Queen’s Park 0 Annan Athletic 0
The alarm bells were ringing long before the teams emerged at Hampden today. Just after 9am, news filtered out that Gaffer Mark Roberts had lifted the Manager of the Month Award … and we all know what a good omen that has been in the past! Over the years, a succession of QP managers have been given this accolade – and more often than not, have promptly lost the next game.
There’s no denying Mark was worthy of the award, having guided the team to four successive victories since taking the helm. But apart altogether from that “curse”, his charges would have to be at their best to keep the run going against Annan.
Our visitors arrived sitting third in the table, on a run of three wins on the bounce. And our last encounter with the Galabankies saw us on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline on a very disappointing August afternoon. That was the fifth time in a row they had beaten the Spiders, so despite the Bookies making us favourites for the points, it was going to be a big ask for the Spiders to send their fans away happy again.
The good news was that the boss had no fresh injury concerns apart from the long-term absentees. So the team was expected to be along familiar lines. That’s the way it turned out, with Mark giving the nod to the XI who started against Albion Rovers.
The other good news was that the rain which had been battering the west all morning relented a bit before kick-off, although the wind was blowing a fair old hoolie.
The early stages were scrappy, with neither side able to make their mark.
Annan did have the ball in the net after nine minutes, but the flag was up long before the ball was touched beyond Hart.
As the first 15 minutes passed, Annan produced a neat break, but Strapp’s cross was meat and drink for Gerry McLauchlan and the danger was averted. The visitors were looking sharper now – and not just with their natty red and black strip.
Eighteen minutes in, Scott McLean nipped in ahead of Hooper, who sent him sprawling and could have no arguments about the yellow card he received. Keeper Jamieson clutched Jamie McKernon’s delivery before anybody in black and white could get on the end of it.
Two minutes later, and a dangerous inswinging ball from Sinnamon saw Jordan Hart race off his line to punch clear. The keeper and Muir collided heavily and it took a few moments before both were able to retake their places.
After the action-packed start last week at Coatbridge, this was certainly not the most riveting watch. Queen’s just couldn’t get the ball down to play, and were finding the wind as much an obstacle as their opponents.
Josh Peters did well to block a shot from Moxon and then Hart had to be at his very best to tip a low shot from Johnston away as the visitors turned the screw.
On the half hour, Johnston rattled the QP bar and it began to look like a matter of time before Annan took the lead.
The challenges started to fly in at this stage, with some on the distinctly meaty side. At least it gave the home crowd something to cheer. Kurtis Roberts produced a bit of magic to ghost past two defenders and find Peters, but yet again the final ball just wasn’t good enough.
Four minutes from the break, Queen’s got their first corner after a Lewis Hawke shot was deflected. Annan broke, and it took a timely foot from Dom McLaren to deny Muir a shooting opportunity.
It was the last action of a disappointing first half – but at least the Spiders were still on terms despite being well below their best.
Queen’s Park 0 Annan Athletic 0
Neither side made any changes at the break – the hope however, was that the game would improve.
It was almost a perfect start for the Spiders as Peters got the ball in for McLean, but Moxon intercepted before the wee man could do any damage.
A dancing run from Roberts earned a free-kick which McKernon whipped in – only to find the head of Wilson. It wasn’t good yet, but at least it was better.
Johnston had pulled the strings in the first half and he was behind Annan’s first attack in the second period. Roberts dragged his shot wide after the midfielder had given him the chance.
Ten minutes in, Mark made his first change, replacing Peters with Kieran Moore.
Annan then had a huge shout for a penalty when Muir went down after a challenge from Hart. Referee Cook ruled it as a dive and booked the striker.
As the hour approached, Queen’s produced their best moment to date. A raking ball from Roberts (a-la-Wharton diagonal) found McLean and his cross invited a scoring header. Unfortunately, Roberts and Hawke both went for the ball and neither could find a way to get the ball into the net.
Annan made their first change at this stage, replacing Muir with Ferguson.
Moore chased a lost cause after 65 minutes and won Queen’s a corner. The delivery arrived at the sub’s feet and his low drive was destined for the far corner until Sinnamon somehow manged to hook it off the line.
That was the signal for Annan to make another change, replacing Wallace with Smith.
Queen’s continued to look livelier and Hawke found the side net after sub Moore played him in.
The visitors hadn’t been seen much in the attacking third since the break, but Johnston sent Sinnamon away on the right before a crunching tackle from Summers brought that to an end.
Smart Osadolor entered the fray with 15 minutes left, at the expense of young Euan East.
The visitors were relying on quick breaks now – but looked menacing when they did get forward. The offside flag saved any possible embarrassment as Roberts chased a through ball before Smith went close with a lob from out wide that didn’t miss by much.
Nine minutes from time another sweeping move started by Summers saw Queen’s travel the length of the park and win a corner as the impressive Moore again went close.
Adam Martin got the last seven minutes, replacing McLean, and the sub saw glory when he shot from distance … but the effort cleared the bar. The same player then went on a mazy run that was only halted deep in the Annan box.
As Queen’s strived to find a winner, Moore shot too close at Jamieson before Annan won a free kick inside the last 90 seconds. It had danger written all over it, but the effort sailed over the bar.
Inside injury time, Smith was booked for hauling back our Kurtis. Ciaran Summers whipped in a great cross from the foul, but Smart’s looping header landed on the roof of the net and our last chance was gone.
So the chance of five wins on the bounce has gone, but let’s look on the bright side. We kept our unbeaten run going; kept another clean sheet … and produced a huge improvement in the second period against a difficult to beat Annan side.
There’s another tough test next week when Peterhead come calling, but the Spiders have got a wee bit of momentum going … and it’s about time we got one over on Rory McAllister’s team
Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McLauchlan, Dominic McLaren, Euan East (Smart Osadolor), Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke Josh Peters (Kieran Moore), Scott McLean (Adam Martin). Subs not used: , Gregor Fotheringham, Billy Mortimer, Lewis Magee, Kieran McDougall (SK).