Albion Rovers 1 Queen’s Park 1
Some draws feel like two points dropped; some feel like a point gained … and some taste sweeter than a good glass of red.
This was definitely a Rioja result as Anton Brady popped up 21 seconds into injury time to curve an inswinger past keeper Stewart and prolong this remarkable run of draws to six in a row.
The performance, and the game in general, may have been far from vintage, but there were precious few complaints from the visiting fans as they headed out of Cliftonhill following yet another dramatic finale.
Queen’s went into the re-arranged fixture knowing that positive results against Rovers and then Peterhead on Saturday would give us a real chance of being involved in the fight for play-off places at the top end of the table.
However, this league is so tight that a couple of not-so-good results could make the last few games just a tad sweatier than we would want.
After the hard-earned draw at Methil on Saturday, Gus went into tonight’s game with a now-familiar side: Willie Muir, Ross Millen, Cameron Foy, Jamie McKernon, Ryan McGeever, Adam Cummins, Conor McVey, Anton Brady, Dario Zanatta, David Galt and Sean Burns.
Despite the blustery conditions, the early signs were promising as the Spiders tried to get the ball down and play.
Galt produced the first real action of the night after five minutes when he found space to get off a shot which struck Dunlop close enough to the arm to spark a penalty shout … which was denied.
Seconds later, we were on our feet as Brady, Burns, Galt and Zanatta were all involved in a slick move which could have earned more than the corner which was cleared by the home defence.
Burns was taken out as the clock ticked towards eight minutes, but the free-kick came to nothing.
It had been all Queen’s so far, but we were given a warning of the danger Rovers posed when Wallace lobbed Muir with an effort that was a bit too close for comfort. The striker quickly followed that with a shot over the top as the home side started to find their feet.
It had been decent stuff up to this point, but it all got a bit scrappy. Queen’s weren’t helped by an injury to Millen which forced him off after 18 minutes to be replaced by Gavin Mitchell.
Before the defence could really settle in, we were behind. Much as it pains your scribe to say it, the goal was a belter. Wallace latched onto Foy’s clearing header and from well outside the box fired an unstoppable left-foot shot into Muir’s top corner.
There was still half the first period to play, but there was precious little goalmouth action to report in the next 20 minutes. Conditions didn’t help, with the ball bobbling a bit on the firm surface – and the wind causing problems for both sides.
As the interval approached, however, Queen’s produced a couple of moments to rekindle hope. Firstly, Brady and Zanatta combined to give Galt a shooting chance. David steadied himself and tried to pass the ball into the net from the right side of the box. His effort beat Stewart, but came back off the post.
From the clearance, the Spiders were back on the attack and Zanatta found space in the box, before going down under Reid’s challenge. Despite optimistic shouts for a penalty, the yellow card he received for diving was probably the correct outcome.
Albion Rovers 1 Queen’s Park 0
The first point of note after the interval came before a ball was kicked. The three officials appeared wearing a light blue top rather than the black one they had sported throughout the first half. It was a good move as the black outfits were far too close to the new Queen’s strip.
Rovers were first to threaten when the action began, with Archibald having a shot blocked.
Five minutes in, Referee Reid incurred the wrath of the visiting support when he didn’t produce any card for Wallace’s deliberate hand-ball. And the mood in the Spiders’ camp darkened further just before the hour when McVey had to limp off to be replaced by Ewan MacPherson.
It was a sign Queen’s were going for the equaliser, and we came agonisingly close after 66 minutes. McKernon swung in a peach of a free-kick and Foy was only inches away from forcing the ball over the line at the back post.
Tensions were rising on and off the field now, resulting in a series of niggling fouls. Brady was booked with 12 minutes left as he and Fisher became embroiled in a personal duel.
Gus made his final throw of the dice when he brought on Liam Brown for Burns, who hadn’t enjoyed his best evening getting the ball into the box.
Sub Mitchell raised hopes with a weaving late run, but the foul which ended the move produced no threat to Stewart in the home goal.
Fisher finally went into the book after 84 minutes, and could have been considered lucky to escape further punishment as he argued his case rather forcefully with the whistler.
It was Fisher’s last action as he was hooked before he could get into more trouble and Gilmour came on.
We’ve seen a few Houdini acts by Queen’s in recent weeks, but there didn’t seem much chance of another one in the dying seconds as Rovers defended resolutely. Indeed, the 90 minutes came and went with Rovers still ahead.
But just as all seemed lost, we earned another corner. Queen’s tried to work a short one, and the first ball was cleared back to Brady. One swing of Wee Anton’s left boot sent the ball spiraling over Stewart and into the far corner of the net.
It was a moment as sweet as it was unexpected and it sparked much jubilation in the visiting section of the terracing – and among the QP players – who had once more made the point that they don’t know when they are beaten.
It was also the final action of the night and the 1-1 draw means Queen’s have now shared the spoils in their last six outings.
We’ve now got just five games left, and there’s still all to play for. Gulliver will make no predictions as to how this season will finish. But he would put his mortgage on this remarkable playing squad giving us a real roller-coaster ride before the curtain comes down.
Keep the Faith!