Queen’s Park 2 Peterhead 0
THERE was a distinctly humbling introduction to the League Two visit of Peterhead, with Queen’s Park remembering the Armistice that ended the First World War, 100 years ago tomorrow.
Piper Bryan Sinclair, brother of former QP captain Richard, and two navy personnel, led a minute’s applause in memory of those who perished in the Great War, among them 34 of the 234 former Queen’s Park players who served in that abomination.
Brian will be back on the centre spot here at the National Stadium at 6am tomorrow, one of 1000 pipers across the world who will simultaneously play the retreat march When the Battle’s O’er, an international tribute organised by the College of Piping in Glasgow.
On the more mundane matter of a football contest, Queen’s faced a Peterhead team riding high at the top of League Two.
While Queen’s will be going for six matches unbeaten, Peterhead will be chasing their eighth win on the bounce. They have dropped just four points so far this season, having been held 1-1 by our very own Spiders in the first league game of the season at Balmoor and losing to surprise high-flyers Edinburgh City in September.
The Queen’s squad were nursing some knocks and bruises after last week’s crunch-fest here against Annan, but thankfully there seems to have been no lasting damage, with Kieran Moore replacing Josh Peters up front the only change.
Meanwhile, missing pair Calvin McGrory and Dean Kindlan returned to training this week, so they’ll be back soon to boost the squad.
The Queen’s website had warned us that Hampden Park was hosting a Whisky Festival today — and local traffic cops would no doubt be interested in their prediction that the car park would be busier than usual!
Some home supporters did indeed look slightly more flushed than usual, but we’ll put that down to some welcome early morning sunshine! By kick-off it had clouded over somewhat, and the floodlights were on, but at least it was still dry.
Of the six press photographers on show, five had taken up residence behind the Queen’s goal at the home end. QP snapper Ian Cairns was all on his lonesome behind the east end goal – and with a very long looking lens.
The Blue Toon were in their traditional colours as Queen’s forced the first corner on five minutes through the mobile Moore, but it was cleared.
The first tussle of the afternoon – and the first of many – between Gerry McLauchlan and Rory McAllister resulted in a foul by the Toon striker. Well spotted, ref.
Ten minutes in and it had been largely sparring, but a minute later Queen’s almost had Peterhead on the deck, McLean picking up the ball just inside the box on the left and rifling a tremendous right-foot shot that Fleming did well to turn over the bar.
That was very promising for the home side, who had been set up by Mark Roberts to go toe to toe with the league leaders, and 20 minutes in we were more than holding our own.
McAllister was penalised again, this time in a challenge on McLaren, but it was going to be a long day for the Spiders central defensive pairing against the “wily” striker.
But that was forgotten as Queen’s took a deserved lead in 25 minutes.
Eadie was booked for a painful barge on McLean just outside the box on the right. Summers fired in a dipping free-kick that was missed by everybody, and though keeper Fleming seemed to have it covered, the ball squirmed under his body and in at his right-hand post.
And you know which snapper had the best view of the goal!
So, a good start for the Spiders had just become even better, but we still had a long way to go.
But we came so close to making it 2-0 after a splendid move down the left in 31 minutes. Summers to East, and young Euan wriggled his way past two defenders to the byeline, played it back for Summers, and the full back’s low cross was knocked agonisingly wide of the far post by Moore.
McAllister had been kept quiet so far, but he showed his danger with an overhead kick over the bar after we had failed to clear. Then he was pulled up for another foul on McLauchlan, who was himself booked for dissent a minute later after arguing about conceding a free kick when it looked like he had actually been fouled. Fouls are Ok, just don’t talk back.
Peterhead were cute in the challenge, all nudges and shoves and blocks, but the young Spiders were so far managing to cope.
But they needed Hart at his best to turn full-length a header round his left hand post in 40 minutes.
Still, an excellent first 45 from the Glorious Hoops. Just 45 more to go!
Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Peterhead 0
Peterhead forced a corner on the left within the first minute of the restart but it was comfortably cleared.
The rain was falling now and it was getting chilly, but Peterhead had started quickly and were trying to make it hot for the Spiders.
But it was the home side that turned up the heat with a spectacular second goal on 50 minutes. East teased his way down the left, turned it back to Summers, and the full back’s left footed cross cum shot deceived Fleming and flew over the keeper’s head and in at his side netting. A sensational double, Ciaran!
Peterhead must have been stunned, but they hit back immediately when McAllister’s trademark slump when challenged won them a free kick just outside the box, but it was cleared.
Hart came to the rescue again in 55 minutes, with a splendid diving save to turn a Lyle header over the bar, then McLauchlan had to turn a Jason Brown flick over the woodwork.
Peterhead were building a head of steam, as you’d expect, and they made a double sub in 58 minutes, McLean and Boyle replacing Ferry and Leitch.
But there was no doubt Spiders had them rattled and we looked dangerous on the break as they poured men forward.
Still, Hart was a busy boy as he used his legs this time to knock away a Scott Brown shot.
Home for Jason Brown was the last change for the visitors in 68 minutes.
Queen’s were showing a maturity beyond their collective years, and it took a splendid full length stop from Fleming to deny McLean in 76 minutes, after the tireless Moore had won yet another tackle. What a shift from the laddie from Lochgilphead.
Hawke was booked for a foul on Stevenson in 78, then Queen’s made their first change when Fotheringham replaced McLean.
McLaren was booked for a foul on McAllister in 81 minutes, then two minutes later he got a second yellow for a sliding challenge in the rain that failed to connect.
Queen’s immediately sent on Lewis Magee for East to take the place of McLaren in defence, while Hawke also dropped back as Peterhead committed men forward.
Hart did well to hold a raking Gibson shot low down at his post on the now slimy surface, then McAllister summed up his Gerrymandered day with an attempted header that arrowed towards the corner flag.
Stevenson escaped a booking for trying to down Roberts, although he got the foul, but Home was booked for booting the ball away. Go figure.
Queen’s weren’t hanging on, by the way, they were attacking at the end and fully merited what was a magnificent victory.
Now for the Nomads. Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKern, Gerry McLauchlan, Dominic McLaren, Euan East, Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke, Kieran Moore, Scott McLean. Subs: Gregor Fotheringham, Smart Osadolor, Billy Mortimer, Josh Peters, Adam Martin, Lewis Magee, Kieran McDougall (SK).
Peterhead: Greg Fleming, Jason Brown, Jamie Stevenson, Cammy Eadie, Willie Gibson, Simon Ferry, Scott Brown, Jack Leitch, Ryan Dow, Rory McAllister, Derek Lyle. Subs: Ryan Gibson, Callum Home, Patrick Boyle, Russell McLean, Ross Kavanagh, David McCracken.
Referee: Chris Graham