Cruel end to the season

Last updated : 10 May 2015 By Fargone

C:WindowsTempphp4DE4.tmpFrom the Queens Park website: Queen’s Park 1 Arbroath 0 (agg:3-2)

THE long wait is finally over! This stunning defeat of Arbroath in the play-off second leg at Hampden means Queen’s Park have ended in spectacular fashion a run of FIVE play-off campaigns in which we failed to win a single game.

The 2-2 draw in midweek at Arbroath saw our winless play-off sequence hit 11 games, and a goal today from captain courageous Tony Quinn in extra-time put us through to a final for the first time since 2007.

Billy Stark’s entertaining squad took us to promotion back then — ironically after play-off wins against first Arbroath and then East Fife — but since 2009 under the unlucky Gardner Speirs we had been winless in the season’s finale. Gus Macpherson’s squad changed all that today.

Queen’s will now meet Stenhousemuir at Hampden on Wednesday night and again next Saturday at Ochilview with the prize a place in Division One.

Queen’s had gone into the home second leg with a winning record this season against early title pacesetters Arbroath.

The starting Spiders not surprisingly were unchanged from the side that had let slip a midweek 2-0 lead at Gayfield — and against 10 men at that — with Ryan Hynes taking a place on the bench in place of the injured Jordan Moore.

Arbroath kicked off in glorious sunshine and had forced a corner on the right within 20 seconds, but Willie Muir got an excellent first touch when he pulled the kick out of the air.

Frantic wasn’t the word for the start, and from Muir’s kick-out Fraser was upended in the box but referee Dallas waved away his appeals.

That midweek draw had seen Division Two Player of the Season Bobby Linn and Dundee United loanee Simon Murray causing Queen’s all sorts of problems, and today looked like being no different.

The impressive Murray, who scored both Arbroath goals in the first leg, escaped Wharton’s challenge and the Queen’s players looked distinctly nervy as they combined to halt his progress. All this inside four minutes. It was going to be a long afternoon.

It was end to end as both teams tried to settle and it took a good block from Slattery in nine minutes to stop Murray’s right foot shot after he had cut into the box on the right.

The sprinklers had been on right up to kick-off and the surface must have been greasy as players were losing their footing.

Other than that Muir take at the corner, the first 10 minutes produced plenty of sweat for the outfield players but no stress for either keeper. It was a different story in the stands; squeaky-bum time, indeed.

The next 10 minutes passed with barely an incident worthy of comment. Had the occasion got the better of both teams? So far it was scrappy and lacked anything like Wednesday’s intensity.

We had to wait until 22 minutes for the first shot on goal, Muir saving very comfortably low down from Carreiro after Linn had got clear on the right for the first time to set up the cross.

Linn and Murray had the knack of finding each other when Arbroath broke and the Queen’s defenders were hard pressed to keep tabs on both of them.

They also failed to keep tabs on ex-Spider Ricky Little, who got to a cross and headed over when he should have done better.

The game finally came to life in 36 minutes, and not surprisingly it was a tackle by Nicoll that lit the fuse.

The combative Nicoll, who crocked Rooney at Arbroath in the last league game, went in studs up on Berry but the referee took no action.

Rooney did, stupidly but not surprisingly, by having a kick at Nicoll and the Queen’s youngster was booked.

The game could have done with an edge, sure, but there was a feeling the more experienced visitors would not be unhappy if the action got physical. Ed's note - rubbish look at the game stats Queens made many more fouls over BOTh ties

Rooney was downed to earn Queen’s a free kick 25 yards out, a minute from half-time, but McCallum did well under pressure to punch away Burns’ kick.

That was the last action of a thoroughly unexciting 45 minutes. Still anyone’s game.

Half-time: Queen’s Park 0 Arbroath 0

It was to be hoped that coach Gus Macpherson had found some inspiring half-time words to fire up his side and Woods certainly looked up for it when he won a good tackle a minute in to set up Burns, only for the full back to overhit his cross.

Queen’s were dicing with danger when they allowed Linn space to get to the byeline and Quinn did well to clear as the cross was on its way to Murray.

But Linn should have put Arbroath ahead in 57 minutes. The visitors, like Wednesday, were quick to break and there was panic as Murray got on his bike. Quinn completely missed his attempted tackle and as the other defenders moved to cover, Linn was left alone on the right.

Murray found him with a pass that put Linn clear on Willie Muir. The wee winger looked certain to score, but Muir stuck out his  leg to divert his right-foot shot away. Great save, lucky escape.

Queen’s responded and created a chance of their own in 64 minutes. Rooney for once got a cross in from the right and it was cleared back to him, and when he fired it back across Woods rose at the far post to head into the side net.

Queen’s made a change in 69 minutes, McElroy coming on for Fraser, who exited less than happy. What we needed was an injection of composure. We were seeing enough of the ball, with Arbroath more than happy to wait for the break, but it was nervy stuff (and off the park wasn’t any calmer!).

McElroy certainly wasn’t calm when he won a corner against Gordon only for referee Dallas to award a bye kick, and then brandishing a yellow card to an irate and talkative McElroy.

Still, it didn’t seem to affect young Ciaran. A minute later he had a shot blocked and he should have had a free-kick when he had to hurdle a scything tackle, but Mr Dallas was again unmoved.

Queen’s had been having the best of the second half but they needed Willie Muir to come to their rescue and deny the Linn-Murray double act.

First the keeper saved the wee winger’s right foot shot from close in and then he pulled off an even better save to turn away Murray’s effort.

The game was opening up now and chances were coming at both ends. Rooney got in a cross from the right that McElroy somehow missed but the young sub picked up the ball wide left and fired over a cross that Carter turned wide at the near post.

This was more like it, from both teams. It wasn’t silky but it was a cup-tie now and Muir again had to save from Murray after the striker had again broken clear.

With a minute to go before extra-time, the excellent Berry was replaced by McVey and the visitors sent on Grant for Carreiro.

And so to a further 30 minutes, as both squads huddled in their technical areas to listen to the backroom words of wisdom. Let’s hope Gus talks a good game.

Woods was booked for a foul on Nicoll as the action restarted and within two minutes Arbroath had replaced Johnstone with Lowdon.

The break had stopped the game’s momentum and the action became scrappy again.

Rooney went off in 99 minutes, replaced by McPherson, who came so close right on half-time with a left foot shot that was deflected for a corner.

There was mayhem in the box when the kick came in and the ball bounced around, and Whatley threw himself in front of Wharton’s shot to prevent a goal.

The half ended with Wharton booked for a foul on Nicoll and the game still deadlocked in the sunshine.

The second period was equally frantic and on a knife-edge, with McElroy and Woods having crosses blocked.

And from the second corner in 118 minutes Queen’s scored – McCallum punching the ball straight to Tony Quinn and captain courageous Quinno slamming a right-foot shot through the ruck of players and into the net.

The gnarled veteran was swamped under a pile of jubilant Spiders and the fans in the stand went daft.

What a finish, and how fitting for Quinno to supply the winner.

Keep the faith. We’re not finished yet.

Queen’s Park: Muir, Mitchell, Burns, Berry, Quinn, Wharton, Woods, Slattery, Carter, Rooney, Fraser/McElroy. Subs — McVey, McPherson, Moore, Hynes, Gibson, McGregor, George (S/K).

Arbroath: McCallum, Little, Johnstone, Nicoll, Gordon, Linn, Whatley, Carreiro, Stewart, Murray, McBride. Subs — Buchan, Smith, Grant, Lowdon, McBride, Lindsay, Rowan, Wilson (GK).

Referee: Andrew Dallas.