Queen’s Park 1 Cowdenbeath 1
FOLLOW that! Such is the challenge confronting Queen’s Park today, after that mesmerising seven-goal masterclass in our last game here at Hampden Park.
A run of 10 games without a win was ended in emphatic fashion with our 7-1 rout of Berwick Rangers.
It’s just a pity Mark Roberts’ players have been idle idols for the fortnight since then, after the referee declined to play last week’s game at Elgin inside a freezer. The Spiders had momentum; like a mouth-watering Lorne sausage, we were on a roll.
But it’s back to the bread-and-butter today for visitors Cowdenbeath, who after their recent commendable 3-1 home defeat to Rangers in the Scottish Cup know a thing or two about controversial call-offs (can just see Hampden ground guru Stevie Bache allowing a heat-seeking four-wheeler on his treasured turf!).
Queen’s look fairly evenly matched in this season’s League Two campaign alongside the Blue Brazil, who are just one point ahead of us having played a game fewer. The teams drew 0-0 at Hampden in September and we lost badly 2-0 at Cowdenbeath in November, and the Fifers are behind only Edinburgh City and Clyde in the stats away from home this season.
The one upside to last week’s Spiders’ postponement was that any knocks and niggles got a chance to heal and coach Roberts has reported a full squad free of injury or suspension for the first time in a while.
Despite that embarrassment of riches, it was no great shock that he stuck with his new attacking formation for the third game running, meaning Scott Gibson and Gerry McLauchlan were again our only recognised defenders, and wee Jamie McKernon was middle man in their back three sandwich. And the bench was unchanged, too.
After a stormy Friday night, the wind had relented marginally and it was a lovely sunny afternoon on a pitch that looked better than it should for this time of year.
There wasn’t a minute on the clock, after the visitors kicked off, when Gow had our first chance, a left foot shot from the edge of the box that lacked power or direction and went straight to debut keeper Lennox.
The first 10 minutes were played almost entirely in the visiting half, highlighted only by two lovely touches by Gow, the first through to Galt for a blocked cross and then a delightful flick that opened the space for Mortimer to get in a cross that Lennox held comfortably.
But Cowdenbeath came close to an opener with their first real attack in 13 minutes, Cox heading narrowly wide from 10 yards after a cross from the right.
Queen’s had their own even better chance for an opener a minute later. Gow’s low cross from the right was cleverly dummied by Galt for Hawke, who should have done better from 12 yards than shoot tamely at Lennox.
It was a far more even contest as we passed the 20-minute mark. Queen’s were still playing controlled football, but the passing could have been more accurate.
Galt sparked into life with a clever run in 28 minutes, slipping between two defenders in the box on the left and setting up Gow, but he was crowded out before he could get in a shot.
Cox conceded what was not his first foul under the main stand and from Roberts’ whipped free kick, Hawke made a prodigious leap on the run and hammered a header just wide.
It was pretty much a stalemate as 40 minutes appeared on the horizon, with Swann allowed to glide through four leg-dangling tackles before being crowded out in the box.
After last week’s goal fest this was perhaps the more ugly side to the game, although Hawke almost produced a thing of beauty with a header from McLean’s cross that could have broken the deadlock and McKernon almost created an opening when he broke forward into the box.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Cowdenbeath 0
Gow and Galt tried to work some magic on the restart, but Galtie’s mishit shot from the edge of the box perhaps summed up our efforts so far.
As did Hawke’s effort on 50 minutes, going clear on the left on McLean’s pass and skewing his attempted cross well wide.
The niggly Cox went chest to chest with McKernon after the Beath man’s umpteenth foul, but the referee deemed a stern talking-to was sufficient.
Cox was in the thick of it again two minutes later, getting up to fire in a header that Hart turned onto the bar, and when it came down Cox fouled Roberts to ease the pressure.
Gow created a double chance in 56 minutes, twice bringing out saves from Lennox with left foot shots, and Galt was denied his own shot on goal after being blocked by the badly-positioned referee.
Miller became the first booking in 62 minutes for taking out Galt as he broke down the left, and Malcolm on for Buchanan was their first change in 64.
Galt went down in the box under a challenge a minute later, but the ref waved away half-hearted appeals for a penalty, then Gow’s driven cross cleared the area with Hawke poised and McLean also then cleared the striker with his left wing cross.
Queen’s first change saw Mortimer being replaced by Summers, who swapped full back positions with McLean, and Cowdenbeath sent on Henvey for Allan.
Queen’s were looking laboured, the passing was off, and they were lucky when Miller glanced a header wide at the near post in 77 minutes after a free kick.
But the luck ran out for Queen’s a minute later when Cowdenbeath scored off the same left wing, Renton setting up Henvey to shoot low past Hart.
There was never going to be much between these teams, but Queen’s certainly hadn’t done themselves justice. From the high of a fortnight ago, this was decidedly low.
The final changes, five minutes from time, saw East replace McGrory and Beath sending on Scott for Renton.
Malcolm was booked for a foul on McLean.
But there was salvation for Queen’s two minutes from time when they got a penalty. Galt (who else?) was downed in the box and McLean did the business from the spot – but not before Fraser was booked for a spot of gamesmanship before the kick.
So, a point in the end when it didn’t look likely. From the sublime to the ridiculous indeed!
Keep the Faith.
Queen’s Park: Jordan Hart, Billy Mortimer, Scott McLean, Scott Gibson, Gerry McLauchlan, Jamie McKernon, Kurtis Roberts, Calvin McGrory, Alan Gow, David Galt, Lewis Hawke. Subs: Kieran Moore, Euan East, Josh Peters, Dom McLaren, James Grant, Ciaran Summers, Kieran McDougall.
Cowdenbeath: Lennox, Mullen, Swann, Pyper, Deas, Fraser, Cox, Allan, Miller, Buchanan, Renton. Subs: Todd, Sheerin, Scott, Malcolm, McGurn, Henvey, Sneddon.
Referee: Steven Reid