Elgin City 2 Queen’s Park 1
We’ve not even reached the end of September yet and the QP support has already been put through the full gamut of emotions. We’ve had the highs of penalty shoot-out cup success against teams we really had no right to beat. But we’ve also suffered disappointment as we found ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
And the long trip to Elgin certainly fell into the latter category as a spot-kick just 90 seconds from the end of normal time condemned us to a third league loss on the bounce.
That late goal was a sickening way to end an afternoon that had begun quite brightly. Given the extent of the Spiders’ injury list, Mark Roberts was able to name a strong-looking side for his second match in temporary charge. Gerry McLauchlan and Ciaran Summers both shrugged off their injuries to take a place in a starting XI which showed just two changes from the Hampden line-up last week against Edinburgh City. Gregor Fotheringham missed out, while Smart Osadolor dropped to the bench. Lewis Hawke and Josh Peters were the men to step in.
We’d been warned by the weather forecasters to expect a windy day at Borough Briggs – and it was indeed blowing a hoolie when the teams took the field. The good news was that Queen’s had the elements in their favour at the start … and showed their intentions right from the off by winning a corner after just 45 seconds. McLauchlan got his head to Jamie McKernon’s delivery, but couldn’t keep the effort down.
Kurtis Roberts tried his luck in the next QP attack, but his shot was blocked and Billy Mortimer fired over from the rebound.
As we continued to press, appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears when Mortimer went down under a challenge from McHardy. We’d not played five minutes yet, but the signs were encouraging.
The best the home side had to offer in the opening exchanges were a couple of free kicks that the Spiders defence dealt with comfortably. Queen’s on the other hand came close again after 10 minutes when Jamie McKernon shot just wide from outside the box.
It was all going the right way, with the only thing missing being a goal … and even that was put right in the 13th minute, when Peters pounced on a mistake in the home defence to fire a left-footed shot beyond Gourlay and put the Spiders 1-0 ahead.
That was our first league goal for more than three-and-a-half matches, but even at that early stage, there was a feeling that we would need more than one goal to make the second half anything like comfortable when Elgin would have the wind at their backs.
Fair play to Queen’s, they tried to build on the lead with Hawke leading the line forcefully, and the pace of Mortimer also causing problems. Lewis headed over from a Grant cross before Elgin fired their first warning shot of the afternoon as Sutherland found space in the centre of the bx, but couldn’t keep the effort on target.
Jordan Hart was called into action around the midway point in the half, and dealt confidently with a dangerous cross from McLeish.
Scott McLean and Sutherland went close at either end before play became a tad scrappy and a series of niggling fouls disrupted the chances of either side maintaining momentum.
Elgin had their best spell on the half-hour when they won a succession of dangerous free-kicks. Queen’s repelled their efforts efficiently and ended the half as they began it by winning a corner, which came to nothing.
Elgin City 0 Queen’s Park 1
City replaced Beattie with Farquhar at the interval, but it was Queen’s who came out the traps best and a mazy run from Kurtis Roberts had hopes rising … but Gourlay was in the perfect position to make sure the midfielder’s shot caused no real alarm.
McHardy became the first booking of the afternoon after a crude challenge ended a Mortimer attempted break.
As we approached the hour, however, the home side began to cause the type of problems we’d feared. Morrison had two chances in quick succession, firstly after a long punt was headed on to give him the chance to test Hart. The Queen’s keeper tipped the effort behind for a corner and this time Morrison was just too high with his header.
The warning bells were ringing loudly now and the moment we’d worried about arrived after 61 minutes. Another corner was swung in to the far post, and headed back into the mincer by Cameron. McLeish reacted quickest and fired the ball beyond the helpless Hart to tie things up at 1-1.
We now knew we were in for a long 30 minutes or so – and that’s how it proved. The home side used the elements to their advantage, and skipper Gibson and his defensive partners must have had sore heads as they rebuffed a bit of a bombardment.
The Gaffer made his first change after 65 minutes when he replaced goalscorer Peters with Osadolor. The pattern remained much the same, but Queen’s continued to defend diligently, while posing their own threat on the break.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, it was still evenly balanced and a quick counter saw McLean go close with a strike from just outside the box.
The home side made their final changes with Hay and Miller replacing McLeish and Wilson, but it was the Spiders who fashioned the next big chance. Fourteen minutes from time, the pace of Mortimer again proved telling, as the striker burst clear to get one-on-one with Gourlay. Sadly for the visitors, the keeper stood tall and managed to deflect the shot to safety.
McKernon then went into the book for a fairly innocuous looking challenge as the home side tried to up the pressure.
Inside the final 10 minutes, and Sutherland went close with a free-kick before Morrison saw another shot blocked by the determined QP rearguard.
Although we’d been under the cosh a bit in the second period, we almost snatched a goal in the dying moments. McKernon shot wide on the break before sub Osadolor saw another shot saved by Gourlay.
A point was well within our grasp when it was wrenched away by one mad moment. Another long punt was nodded on into the path of Miller and Hart raced from his goal to try to divert the danger, Sadly, the keeper only managed to clatter into the sub and send him sprawling. Nobody could argue when referee Graham pointed to the spot and this time there were no heroics from Jordan as Sutherland scored comfortably.
Euan East had been waiting on the sideline ready to come on, hoping for a late chance to grab a winner. He now had just seconds on the field to try to help salvage the game, but the Spiders couldn’t carve out any more openings. Even more worrying was the sight of McLauchlan limping off deep into injury time to be replaced by Dominic McLaren.
It was a sickening finale for an afternoon that had begun so promisingly, raising genuine hopes that we could get back to winning ways in the league. Here’s hoping the Spiders have decided to save that pleasant experience for next week when our old rivals Clyde arrive at HQ sitting close to the top of the table,
Keep the Faith!
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McLauchlan, Scott Gibson, Scott McLean, Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke, Josh Peters, Billy Mortimer. Subs: Smart Osadolor, Dominic McLaren Alistair Miller, Gavin Lachlan, Adam Martin, Euan East, Elliot Anderson (SK).