Edinburgh City 2 Queen’s Park 0
Queen’s travelled to pastures new to face league leaders Edinburgh City, but the change of scenery failed to bring about a change in recent fortunes for the Spiders. Two goals in as many first half minutes were enough to signal another defeat.
And to make matters worse, there was more bad news on the injury and suspension front.
It turned out to be an afternoon as disappointing as the weather in the capital, but despite the scoreline, there were signs that we could bring our losing run to an end sooner rather than later.
Gaffer Mark Roberts and the squad headed for Edinburgh determined to put the miserable events of Tuesday at Central Park well and truly behind them. And although they knew they faced a daunting task given the home side’s impressive record to date this term, there was a positive look to the side that took the field. Euan East returned, hopefully to provide more attacking options, while the increasingly influential Dom McLaren returned after suspension at the back.
Everybody who travelled through from Glasgow was looking to see a better game of football than we suffered in Fife, and right from the outset it looked as if both sides wanted to get the ball down and pass whenever possible.
Unfortunately for Queen’s, most of the early traffic flowed towards our goal as City earned themselves a string of corners and free kicks. Jordan Hart relieved the most dangerous situation by coming to claim a wicked dead-ball delivery from Thomson.
At the other end, Scott McLean made a lively start with a promising run that was halted illegally. The resultant free-kick was overhit, however, and an early chance to dent the City confidence was lost.
Both sides continued to spar for the opening and it was the home side who came closest to landing the first telling blow after 15 minutes. Blair Henderson has been scoring goals for fun this season and should probably have done better than head over from Taylor’s cross.
Queen’s best moment of the opening quarter came after 21 minutes when James Grant combined well with Kurtis Roberts and McLean to win a corner. When the ball was swung in, Gerry McLauchlan got on the end of it, but couldn’t keep his effort low enough to trouble Antell.
Things got very scrappy at this stage, with the almost constant sound of Referee Lambie’s whistle dashing any hopes of flowing football.
The increasing number of fouls and corners awarded in favour of the home side increased the pressure on Queen’s – and that pressure finally told in 31 minutes. A corner from the right wasn’t cleared; Balatoni knocked it into Henderson’s path – and the striker poked it home from close range. Hart went into the book at this point for protesting too loudly about a possible infringement in the lead-up to the goal … and that card was a warning of what was to come from Lambie.
It was going to be tough to come back from a goal down against a side as solid as City, but within a couple of minutes they’d doubled their advantage. Smith outmuscled Grant on our flank and when the ball was played across Shepherd had time and space to drive a shot beyond Hart.
The Spiders tried to respond from these hammer blows and did manage to put some pressure on the home defence. All too often, however, when we did get in a promising position, the final ball was either cleared by the home defence … or overhit in an effort to keep it away from their towering central defenders.
As the interval approached, Kieran Moore did escape long enough to get off a shot, but it flew the wrong side of the post for the visiting support.
Edinburgh City 2 Queen’s Park 0
The same personnel took the field for both sides at the start of the second period and the early pattern was much the same as the opening half. City enjoyed more of the possession – and won more than their fair share of free-kicks. Four minutes after the interval, Shepherd went down under the challenge of McLaren, and Lambie decided to flash his second yellow card of the afternoon.
It’s hard to say if it was the Spiders’ sense of injustice, or the home side taking their foot off the pedal a bit, but Queen’s enjoyed their best spell of the afternoon in the following 25 minutes.
Ten minutes in they had a decent penalty claim waved away after Lewis Hawke appeared to be nudged off the ball by Liam Henderson, and a minute later, should have equalised. Thomson was forced to give away a corner by the persistence of Moore and when the ball came in, it found its way to McLaren inside the six-yard box. Big Dom got a shot away, but unfortunately it was too close to Antell who produced a tremendous reflex save to deny the visitors an equaliser.
Lady Luck decided she didn’t like us at this stage and we lost Hawke after a nasty – but totally accidental – clash of heads inside the home box. The striker looked decidedly groggy as he was helped off after lengthy treatment, so it was good to see him reappear in his “civvies” a few minutes later.
Lewis was replaced by our trialist, but it was still the Spiders who were creating the best of the chances. Perhaps because of this, City made their first change with just over 20 minutes to go, replacing Taylor with Watson.
Our Gerry took centre stage at this point, firstly going into the book for a challenge that didn’t appear too bad … and then almost bringing Queen’s back in the game with a flashing header from a Moore cross. Either side of Antell and it was in the back of the net, but unfortunately, it flew straight at the keeper and he managed to clutch the ball.
Just as hopes were rising of an unlikely comeback, Lambie killed them stone dead. McLaren was penalised for a challenge in the middle of the park. It looked as if the foul would be the only punishment, but after a few seconds, the whistler reached into his pocket and produced a second yellow and the inevitable red – presumably because Dom said something that didn’t go down too well.
Lewis Magee came on to bolster the defence as McLean was sacrificed. Queen’s continued to try to go forward, but were increasingly exposed at the back as City looked to deliver the killer third. Hart was seldom troubled, however, which is more than can be said for his opposite number.
Twelve minutes from time, Moore robbed Henderson as the defender looked for too much time to clear. Once more, Kieran got a shot away, and yet again the home keeper stood tall to deny the young striker a long-overdue goal.
Roberts and our trialist were next to try their luck – without success – as the game meandered to a close.
In the last minute of the 90, Hart did brilliantly to deny Watson what would have been an undeserved third goal. Then deep into the time added for Hawke’s injury, City defender Henderson went into the book … to ironic cheers from the visiting support.
It was the last action of another disappointing afternoon as we tasted defeat for the fourth match on the bounce. The daft thing is that we had the better of the chances in the second period – and could even have scored when we were a man down. The flip side of that optimistic outlook is that City knew the job was done when they went 2-0 ahead … and might have been able to step up a gear had we managed to reduce the deficit.
It’s back to our Hampden home next week for the visit of Stirling Albion. Let’s hope that the Hawke isn’t too badly injured … and (difficult though it may be) let’s try to stop picking up what could be costly cards that leave us having to shuffle what has begun to look like a settled side.
Keep the Faith!
Queen’s Park :Jordan Hart, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Jamie McKernon, Gerry McLauchlan, Dominic McLaren, Euan East, Kurtis Roberts, Lewis Hawke, Kieran Moore, Scott McLean. Subs: Gregor Fotheringham, Josh Peters, Dean Kindlan, Trialist, Lewis Magee, Adam Martin, Kieran McDougall (SK).