Alloa Athletic 2 Queen’s Park 2
Substitute Ewan MacPherson struck deep into injury time to secure a point for the Spiders and make it four draws in a row.
Queen’s were far from their best, but dug deep and refused to accept defeat. And their never-say-die attitude eventually got its reward in the 94th minute when MacPherson bulleted home a Sean Burns cross to tie things up at 2-2.
It was a great way to end what had, in all truth, been a game that would not otherwise have lingered long in the memory.
Until the late drama, the major talking point had been the glorious weather which greeted us all on arrival, with the visiting fans reflecting on our line-up in glorious sunshine. We all knew that our injury list had eased a bit, so the starting XI was a subject of much debate in the pre-match discussions.
In the end, there weren’t too many changes, with Bryan Wharton making way for the returning Adam Cummins – meaning young Cameron Foy kept his place in the back five; while suspension ruled out Anton Brady.
So Queen’s started with Willie Muir in goal and a defensive line of Ross Millen, Foy, Ryan McGeever, Cummins and Sean Burns. Jamie McKernon, Dominic Docherty and Conor McVey occupied the midfield slots, with David Galt and Dario Zanatta tasked with providing our main goal threat.
The early signs were encouraging, with former Spider Neil Parry having to punch clear after a wee stramash in the Alloa box.
That was in the second minute, and four minutes later, Galt just overhit a pass to strike partner Zanatta when things were beginning to look interesting.
The bright start soon faded as both teams struggled to carve out clear chances. A succession of niggly fouls and wasted corners were all that occupied the note takers in the first quarter of an hour.
It was one of those fouls that led to the opening goal after 17 minutes. McGeever was penalised for climbing and Waters delivered a quality ball over the wall. The post seemed to have come to Queen’s rescue as the effort rebounded, but Flannigan had time and space to drill an effort back into the net and put the home side one up.
Queen’s tried to respond quickly, with Galt and Zanatta leading the charge, but whenever we did get a shooting opportunity, the large frame of Parry intervened.
And the Wasps were a constant threat going forward, with the experienced Spence, Cawley and Mackin posing problems in dangerous areas.
As the clock reached 25 minutes, Alloa had a series of chances to extend their lead.
Cawley saw two shots blocked in quick succession before Spence was also denied when he possibly should have done better.
Queen’s know to their cost what the price can be for failing to kill games and take chances when on top – this time the tables were turned and it was Alloa who suffered.
Docherty, Galt and Zanatta exchanged passes to set Dario in on goal, and when Parry blocked his final shot, Galt followed up nicely to take the easiest of chances to tie the scores up at 1-1.
Amidst the celebrations, there were murmourings in the visiting ranks that Holmes escaped with just a talking to for a foul he had committed on Docherty in the lead-up to the Spiders’ goal … and those mutterings became louder when Queen’s midfielder McKernon became referee Roncone’s first booking of the afternoon five minutes later for his first foul of the afternoon.
McGeever became the second player booked moments later as the challenges livened up, but despite Cawley looking a menace, there was no further scoring and the half-time score had a familiar ring for Queen’s in recent weeks:
Alloa Athletic 1 Queen’s Park 1
Although they hadn’t tested Parry on too many occasions in the opening 45 minutes, Queen’s had looked the better side. But whatever Alloa boss Jim Goodwin said to his charges at the break, they emerged far stronger in the second period.
Kirkpatrick went close within the opening couple of minutes and Cawley was allowed to wander across the edge of our box far too easily moments later. Thankfully, when he did pull the trigger, Muir was up to the challenge and beat away his shot.
The signs were ominous, and the goal that had been threatening arrived after 54 minutes. Kirkpatrick found himself in space on the right after we gifted our hosts possession with a careless pass. The Alloa man dinked a cross to the back post where Taggart had the simplest of jobs to nod the ball home.
The Wasps went for the kill at this stage and were denied (rightly) two penalty shouts when players hit the deck in the box.
The woodwork also came to Queen’s rescue just after the hour mark when yet another free kick was whipped in by Waters.
That was the signal for Gus to switch things around, with a double change. Foy and Docherty went off, with Liam Brown and Willie Mortimer coming on as we reverted to four at the back.
It looked as if the changes might work their magic right away as Brown released Burns on the left, but Sean’s cross was not one of his best and sailed harmlessly away.
We started to enjoy a bit more possession, but the home side were dangerous on the break, and sub Longworth could have punished his former team mates after being released by Cawley, but the final effort was a weak one and didn’t trouble Muir.
As we entered the final 10 minutes, Gus threw on Ewan MacPherson for Galt, giving us two very lively youngsters up front against a vastly experienced home defence.
It looked as if the experience would win the day as the home side tried to kill the game and run down the clock. Frustrations grew in the visiting ranks and Burns earned a booking for a challenge on Cawley as the game looked to be meandering to a close.
Just when all seemed lost, however, the Spiders struck … in the fourth minute of added time. Burns was again found on the left, but this time the cross was a thing of beauty. It begged the right finish – and young sub Ewan was happy to oblige as he buried a header past the helpless Parry.
Cue wild celebrations on the park and in the visiting section of the ground as Queen’s found another late equaliser to ensure another week went by without the sour taste of defeat spoiling our Saturday.
There are now just seven games left in this remarkable season, with the Spiders sitting four points off the promotion places and five away from the other contest.
Nobody can yet predict how this one will turn out for the Glorious Hoops, but one thing is certain – we won’t be leaving the ground early in any of those seven matches as this side is one which will battle right to the final whistle.
That’s not a bad quality to have.
Keep the Faith!