Annan Athletic 2
Late scare, but Spiders hold on
There was only one sure thing about Gardner Speirs' team selection for today's encounter ... there would be a lot of unhappy bunnies in the QP camp.
The emergence of another couple of likely lads from our youth system has helped provide genuine challenges for most of the starting places.
That situation posed a lot of interesting questions pre-match - but the one question we all wanted answered in the affirmative was whether the game would take place.
Last week, the first real hint of Scotland's winter led to widespread cancellations - including our derby on the Broadwood all-weather surface. Surely the same couldn't happen again this week on the new surface at Galabank?
Thankfully, there was no repeat and the plastic surface was absolutely pristine for today's encounter.
Gulliver arrived bright and early to meet up with his wee Geordie chum. As we enjoyed a spot of lunch and a wee refreshment, we pondered the selection issues:
Would Davie Anderson - now fit again - be thrown in from the start despite his lack of match practice?
Would debut goal hero Aidan Connolly keep his place in the starting line-up?
Would the bug which has laid a number of the QP staff low over the last couple of weeks add Jamie Longworth and James Brough to its list of victims?
If Brough was ruled out, who would slot into the back four?
Would Andy Robertson start at left back, or would he be played in a more advanced role?
Who would be given the striking duties?
And so it went on. In fact, Gulliver's only certain predictions were that Neil Parry would be in goal, with Paul McGinn at right back.
It turned out that way, and the rest of the starting line-up provided plenty more talking points.
The other places at the back were filled by Little and Gallacher, with Bradley on the left.
Anderson did indeed start in midfield, partnered by Keenan, McParland, Connolly and Robertson, with spot-kick king Tony Quinn leading the line up front.
It was interesting, but could it recapture the sparkling early-season form that had given us all so much enjoyment? Truth be told, we've been distinctly flat in our last few outings - even the victory against Stirling Albion was not the best advert for Friday-night football (apart from the last couple of minutes that is!)
And although Annan have stuttered in their last couple of matches, they do have a good record at Galabank, and always provide Queen's with a big challenge in every sense of the word.
From the outset, the signs were none too promising as the home side dominated the early possession. The good thing from our point of view is that for all their huffing and puffing, Parry wasn't called into serious action.
In fact, the first item in the old notebook came after 14 minutes when Anderson, Connoly and Quinn carved out an opening which ended when Quinno shot just wide.
The next 10 minutes followed a similar pattern, with the feeling growing that the first strike could be decisive. So it proved, and again it was Quinno who did the damage.
With 24 minutes on the clock, Bradley romped down the left and was fouled in full stride inside the box. Referee Cook had to point to the spot, and he duly did. Quinn again accepted responsibility, and although his strike wasn't the cleanest you will ever see, it landed behind Mitchell in the Annan net and Queen's were 1-0 ahead.
The goal gave the visiting fans a huge lift, and also buoyed the spirits of the Hoops' players. Without ever looking comfortable, we definitely held the upper hand to the break. McGinn in particular looked promising going forward and with a bit more composure could have helped us add to our lead.
As it was, depite a couple of near things, neither side could add to their tally and at the break it was Queen's who held the most slender of advantages.
Annan 0 Queen's Park 1.
Tony McParland had been tidy, if relatively quiet in the first period. He made his mark within a couple of minutes of the restart.
Queen's won a foul on the left hand side of the Annan box and McParland decided that this was his moment. He fired in one of those wicked cross-cum-shots that defenders hate. It eluded everybody and landed in the back of the Annan net to give us a healthy two-goal cushion.
Naturally, two goals is never quite enough when you follow Queen's Park, and the home side seemed to realise that a quick reposte might pay handsome dividends.
Fortunately, for all those following the glorious Hoops, we held firm - and indeed looked the likelier to trouble the scorers again.
Connolly fired narrowly wide after 57 minutes; Robertson and McGinn also went close - and Annan had their chance to get back into the game throiugh Steele almost on the hour mark.
He couldn't make us pay, however, and eight minutes later, it should have been game over. Good work by Robertson, McGinn and Keenan gave Connolly the chance - and the diminutive youngster made it two goals from two starts by poking home to put us three ahead.
With any other team, that would have put us in easy street and coasting to victory. But this is Queen's park we are talking about and when did we ever do things the easy way?
We were sloppy enough to let Donley pull a goal back a minute from time when he rose highest to head home Steele's cross.
There should still have been nothing to worry about, but former Spider Mick Daly came off the bench for Annan to ensure a nervy finish for the Spiders as he reduced the deficit further with a sweet strike deep into stoppage time.
Thankfully, even Queen's couldn't embarrass themselves any more and they saw out the remaining seconds to end up 3-2 winners.
Over the piece, it was typical of the team we love. We were never at our silky best, yet contrived to carve out a 3-0 lead. Havingly seemingly done all the hard work, we then did our best to throw it away by gifting our opponents two goals to ensure a nail-biting finish.
Few other teams would make such hard work of what could have been a thoroughly comprehensive victory. But then again, isn't that why we love them so much ... you just never know what to expect on this ridiculous rollercoaster ride?
Next stop Broadwood on Tuesday (weather permitting)
Keep the faith.