Queen’s Park 1 Arbroath 0

LIFE seems to have been somewhat chaotic recently for Queen’s, what with postponements and the Scottish Cup double-header against Forfar.

We’re home again today, with Arbroath the visitors, after a couple of quick-fire games on our travels.
Last Saturday we survived monsoon road conditions to reach Forfar, but couldn’t survive in the Scottish Cup replay.

If it’s not big Rory McAllister winning dodgy free-kicks for Peterhead, it’s Chris Templeman proving an even bigger nuisance for the Loons in two games that were well within our winning.

Still, the league is our priority and to follow that cup disappointment with a splendid 2-0 win at East Fife in midweek was spirited indeed.

We have scaled the heady heights of second in League Two and for a team that supposedly has problems scoring we can boast the best goal difference in the division. Go figure.

We are looking to win four league games on the bounce for the first time this season, having twice now managed three.
Arbroath are traditionally a tough nut for Queen’s and Gus MacPherson is not alone in voicing surprise at seeing them at the opposite end of the table from his Spiders.
The Red Lichties, in fact, are being kept off the bottom by Berwick only courtesy of goal difference and you wouldn’t have tipped that at the start of the season.

Queen’s won 2-1 at Gayfield in September with goals from Sean Burns and Paul Woods and Arbroath have just one win in their last six.

They will be feeling down after their own midweek Scottish Cup replay loss to Cowdenbeath, which meant they missed out on a tie against Rangers at Ibrox that would have done wonders for club finances.

Queen’s were again missing injured trio Tony Quinn, Tony Ralston and John Carter, but the good news was that

Vinnie Berry passed a fitness test after picking up a hamstring strain before the East Fife game. Craig McLeish and Joe Bradley also started, with Conor McVey, David Galt and Bryan Wharton dropping to the bench as Queen’s reverted to four at the back (Mitchell, McGeever, Gibson, Burns) from the midweek five.

There was very welcome blue sky overhead (I know, give it five minutes!) as Queen’s kicked off under the floodlights. The pitch looked great for December.

McLeish was prominent with a strong early run down the left which fizzled out, then Woods, Bradley and Mitchell combined down the right into the box only for the ball to run for a goal kick.

So, a positive start, then and Queen’s came so close to opening the scoring in 10 minutes. Watson did well to get in front of Woods as the Spiders playmaker went for a cross, but the big No5 couldn’t control his clearance and sliced it over his own bar with keeper Fleming stranded.

There was more panic in the Lichties box when Fleming dropped Burns’ corner, but the keeper was in the right place to collect Burns’ cross/shot from the rebound.

But there was nothing the busy Fleming could do when Queen’s went ahead in 11 minutes with a splendidly-worked goal. Bradley did all the spadework, the wee midfielder angling his way through the Arbroath defence before releasing a perfect pass into the box to meet the run of Duggan, who took a touch before driving his shot low past the keeper.

Arbroath top scorer Bobby Linn can always be guaranteed to cause Queen’s some problems, and he was at it again in 18 minutes, turning quickly on the right of the area onto a misplaced pass by Woods and firing a left-foot shot that Muir palmed away before collecting.

It was fairly even after that up to midway in the half. Ramsay had a free kick saved low down to his left by Muir then Duggan twice came very close to a second goal, first with a powerful shot deflected narrowly past a post and then with a complete fresh-air shot when moving on to a cross eight yards out.

Arbroath twice came close to an equaliser around the half-hour. Lowdon was allowed a free run to the byeline to get in a cross that the unmarked Rutherford headed over the bar, then that man Linn was through one-on-one with Muir but saw the keeper block his shot. A let-off there, that’s for sure, but no way were Queen’s going to stop Arbroath completely from creating openings.

And that was very true of the Arbroath defence when it came to Queen’s attacks, with the lively Bradley combining with Woods to set up a cross for Mitchell that Duggan rose to meet and glance a header just wide of the far post.
It was a decent enough game and still very even. Queen’s were holding the edge in possession and as usual they were working very hard to keep on top.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 1 Arbroath 1

Arbroath almost made a sensational start to the second half. Straight from their kick-off, and within 30 seconds, Queen’s passed up several chances to clear and McGeever had to stop a Ramsay shot on the line with Muir beaten.
The visitors had certainly restarted on the front foot and they should have been level on 50 minutes.

Mitchell’s poor pass allowed Arbroath to break past him down the left. The cross was blocked, but only to Linn, 12 yards out, and he made space before firing a low shot that again rebounded off the legs of the advancing Muir.
Great work again by the Spiders keeper, but his fellow-defenders were dicing with death giving Linn such gilt-edged chances.

Arbroath were looking dangerous and quick on the break but they couldn’t sustain that start, thank goodness, and Queen’s gradually regained their toehold in the game.

We were treated to some welcome home pressure, and McLeish had a shot blocked as we finally got up the other end.

Linn got the first yellow card of the game for a foul on Bradley on 65 minutes and two minutes later Queen’s came close to making it 2-0, McLeish having a strong shot palmed down by Fleming and Duggan’s shot from the rebound being blocked over the bar for a corner.

The visitors made a double change in 68 minutes, Gold and Ryan replacing Reid and Ramsay. Wilson became the second booking for a foul on Burns, then Mitchell followed for a foul on Lowdon.

Our first meaningful attack of the second half didnlt come until 77 minutes, Bradley bursting through and taking advantage of Duggan’s spirited midfield ball-winning to blast in a shot that Fleming tipped over the bar.

Queen’s made their first change in 81 minutes, Galt coming on for Woods, who had just not managed to click today.
And it was the sub who sparked a great Queen’s break that could have led to a second goal in 84 minutes. From deep in his own half, Galt took a clearance during an Arbroath attack and it was three against two as he broke with Duggan on his right and McLeish on his left.

It was McLeish who received the Galt pass, then he drove into the area before unleashing a powerful shot that Fleming blocked away. Close.

Three minutes from time the industrious Bradley was replaced by McVey. Good shift, young man.

Queen’s had done well this half to keep Arbroath at bay, with a combination of brave defending and good luck, and we needed both to clear a free kick a minute from time, then survive a Linn shot that was blocked and a Clarke effort over the bar from the rebound.

But Queen’s should have wrapped it up and put us out our misery in stoppage time. Duggan looked to be killing time at the right corner flag, but he suddenly released Galt into the box, McKernon ferried his pass through to the unmarked McLeish, and not for the first time he hammered in a shot that was blocked.

You have to say that Arbroath shaded the second half, but goals win games. Keep the faith.

Queen’s Park: Muir, Mitchell, Burns, Berry, McGeever, Gibson, Woods, McKernon, Duggan, Bradley, McLeish. Subs: Galt, Wharton, McElroy, McVey, Baty, Hynes, O’Boyle (GK).

Arbroath: Fleming, Wilson, Lowdon, Little, Watson, Whatley, Linn, Clarke, Rutherford, Reid, Ramsay. Subs: Gold, McWalter, Munro, Hester, Stewart, Ryan, Brodie (GK).
Referee – Mike Roncone.