St Mirren Colts 2 Queen’s Park 4
It may be made in Scotland from girders, and the IrnBru cup certainly seems to be the one where Queen’s Park players really show their mettle. Before arriving at St Mirren Park today, the Spiders had already survived two nerve-wracking penalty shoot-outs. And today was a different test of their bottle … and one they finally passed with flying colours.
Anybody who has been on the journey from Hampden to England (via Wales) and then to Paisley will admit that the contest keeps throwing up surprises. The one thing you can usually rely on is that the QP team will look like weans compared to their opponents. Today it was the St Mirren Colts players who looked as if they’d had to ask their parents for permission to stay out late.
They might have looked green, but Queen’s had to keep in mind that they were all looking to break into a Premier League squad, so there was no reason to take our progress for granted.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of an incredible game, Gulliver would like to extend a warm welcome to our new head coach – Mark Roberts. It’s a pleasure to have you here Mark … and Lang may yer lum reek.
The former Ayr striker has been in temporary charge since Gus departed – ironically to join our opponents today – and he had us all celebrating last week with that excellent victory over Clyde.
Today marked his first game in offeeshell charge and given our fun thus far this season in this competition, he could be forgiven for thinking that it was a good place to start.
His selection was along familiar lines, with Dom McLaren for the unlucky hamstring injury victim Scott Gibson, the only change from our victorious line-up against the Bully Wee.
As it turned out, the game epitomised (good word that) the roller coaster ride that is the life of a Queen’s Park fan.
Our first scare came long before kickoff with the news that the torrential rain had forced a precautionary pitch inspection, but thankfully the excellent work of the Paisley ground staff meant that test was passed with ease.
But the first anxious moment of the game itself wasn’t so easy to dismiss. Only two minutes were on the clock when the Paisley side won a free-kick. The original delivery was cleared, but when it was headed back into the mix, it found Jamieson unmarked – and he finished with ease. If we were being uncharitable, we’d say he looked offside when the ball reached him, but as the flag didn’t go up, there’s no point in arguing about that.
If we wanted to give the youngsters encouragement, that was one way to do it, but it’s safe to say that free gifts were not in the Mark Roberts pre-match team talk.
Queen’s first attack came a couple of minutes later and ended with Josh Peters copping a sore one. Referee Grant Irvine ignored the penalty claims – and also took an eternity to allow the physio on to treat the prone striker. Five minutes gone and already it wasn’t looking like the fun afternoon we had hoped for.
Nine minutes in we’d our first chance after good work on the left by Ciaran Summers gave Lewis Hawke the chance to lay ball back to Scott McLean, but he couldn’t beat Wilson.
A corner soon after saw McLaren head over as the Spiders started to find their feet.
But it was almost unlucky in the 13th minutes as a quick Saints break gave Kirkpatrick a shooting chance. Thankfully, Jordan Hart gathered his effort with ease.
Any lingering doubts about the scale of the task facing us were firmly dispelled when Henderson delivered a wicked cross which caused all sorts of problems in the QP box before it was finally cleared.
Once the hectic first 15 minutes were out of the way, the visitors started to exert some serious pressure, notably down our left where Summers and McLean worked well on countless occasions.
After 17 minutes, the pair combined to win a corner which saw McLaren head over. Then the same pair gave Peters the chance to run at the defence and the striker wriggled along the byline, beat keeper Wilson – and then saw his cross-cum-shot roll agonisingly along the line before it was hacked to safety.
Jamie McKernon was next to try his luck, shooting just wide after being found by a superb crossfield ball from James Grant.
Although Queen’s were well on top in the possession stakes, the home side still posed a threat going forward as Kirkpatrick demonstrated when he curled a shot wide after 30 minutes.
Normal service was quickly resumed and Kurtis Roberts started another attack with a superb long ball to Peters and then got on the end of the cutback only to see his shot saved.
Gerry McLauchlan’s experience makes him like a father figure to the Queen’s youngsters and after 35 minutes, the daddy long legs came to the rescue twice as he blocked dangerous efforts from Breadner.
The Spiders were soon back on the offensive and another Summers-McLean combination gave Peters a shooting chance, but his effort was deflected behind for a corner. The delivery reached Roberts at the edge of the box, but his volley was way off target and the feeling began to surface that this might be one of those day for the visitors.
Those feelings were reinforced as the interval approached when McKernon took one touch too many when the shot seemed on – and then appeared to be bundled off the ball in the box. It was a similar challenge to the one given to Scotland on Thursday, but today Irvine saw nothing untoward and waved play on.
Half time: Saint Mirren Colts 1 Queen’s Park 0
It wouldn’t have been the team talk Mark Roberts was hoping to give, but the question we all wanted answered in the affirmative was whether he could find the words to bring about a change in fortune for the Spiders.
Neither side made any changes at the break, and the game followed a similar pattern to the first half.
Early pressure from the Spiders won a free-kick which was swung in to the far post. Keeper Wilson didn’t gather at the first attempt, but recovered before anybody in red could pounce.
A Summers cross was then deflected behind for another fruitless corner. Hawke had the chance to ease the growing tension after 53 minutes, but couldn’t get enough on a header to test the home keeper.
The new Gaffer had seen enough by now, and decided to send on Euan East for Billy Mortimer. The sub made an immediate impact, beating two men on his first run before being taken out illegally on the edge of the box.
It was a promising position, but as McLean’s effort cannoned off the crossbar with the keeper nowhere, the ranks of the visitors began to fear that one of those days was becoming a reality.
As the hour approached, the Spiders won a series of corners which failed to produce the desired result. Then, after 62 minutes, we finally got a stroke of luck. McLean hit a shot that was so far wide it turned into a good pass to East on the left flank. Euan swung the ball in; Peters tried his luck with a shot … and Hawke swooped to touch it beyond the helpless goalkeeper to tie the scores up at 1-1.
It was no more than Queen’s deserved for their persistence, but what followed a mere 60 seconds later was so careless it was almost criminal. Breadner was allowed to run across our defence and pick his spot to fire a powerful low shot past Hart to restore the Colts’ lead. (Welcome to the world of Queen’s Park, Gaffer).
To their eternal credit, the Spiders didn’t let the heads go down. An East cross found McLean in a good position, but he slipped just as he was about to pull the trigger and the chance went abegging.
The Boss made his second change at this point, replacing Peters with Kieran Moore. And the second sub also made his presence felt, bringing a great block from Glover with his first touch. But Kieran wasn’t to be denied, and after 66 minutes, his second touch was a sublime through ball to McLean. The wee man took the pass in his stride and fired firmly past Wilson to get us back on terms.
The traffic continued to flow towards the home goal, but the threat of the counter attack never went away. James Grant came close to opening his account when he let fly from distance with his left peg. It was on target; it carried power aplenty … but it couldn’t beat the keeper.
To prove they were still in the game, Saints went straight up the park and won a foul right on the edge of our box. McShane fancied his luck, but as the surface became slippier in the continuing downpour, he lost his footing as he strode forward to shoot and almost took out the linesman with his miscue.
McKernon became the first player booked when he tugged back the dangerous Breadner, and as we approached the final 10 minutes, yet another penalty decider was more than a possibility.
Moore continued to look lively and gave McLean a chance to shoot, but Scott’s effort flew past the post.
Just when it was beginning to look like we’d never get our noses in front, Queen’s did a London buses trick and scored twice within a couple of minutes.
McLean was the provider for the first, sending over a delicious cross which East was happy to knock over the line from close range. At this point, the oft-heardd words of a certain Neil Chisholm summed up the hopes of the visitors … with “Concentrate” being the war cry. As it happened, there wasn’t the need for too much concentration as our very next attack saw McKernon barged in the back in the box and this time Irvine had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
McLean put the seal on the performance by stroking home the penalty and at 4-2, Queen’s finally had the breathing space they’d worked so hard to find.
The Young Colts had nothing left in their armoury now and East came close to adding to the lead on another two occasions before the final whistle sounded.
As a cup tie, this was a cracker, with no fewer than 30 efforts on goal between the two teams. Queen’s mustered 20 shots, with 11 of them being on target – and those are stats you won’t see too often.
In the end (and strange as it sounds to say this about a Queen’s Park team) our experience told and we were well worth the victory that takes us into Tuesday’s draw.
Who knows where we will end up in the quarter-finals, but regardless of who we face, all we can ask is that the entertainment value lives up to the excitement already savoured in this remarkable cup run.
Watch this space for the next instalment of cup football 2018-19 as Queen’s travel to face Stirling Albion next Saturday in the Scottish Cup.
Keep the faith.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McClauchlan, Dominic McLaren, Billy Mortimer (Euan East), Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke, Josh Peters (Kieran Moore), Scott McLean. Subs not used: Smart Osadolor, Gregor Fotheringham, Gavin Lachlan, Alistair Miller, Elliott Anderson (SK).