Spiders suffer first loss in 8
No Hogmanay cheer as Stranraer kill the party
Queen’s Park’s eight- game unbeaten run came to shuddering halt as Stranraer left Hampden with all three points.
Gregor Fotheringham and Ross Millen were still missing for the visit for The Blues and Gus MacPherson made just one change from last week’s win over Livingston, David Galt coming in as Conor McVey dropped to the bench.
It was a dreadful afternoon with darkened sky, torrential rain and a biting wind.
Stranraer’s vivid orange jerseys brightened up the kick-off under the Hampden lights and they started brightly with some early possession.
But it was Queen’s who threatened first, in two minutes, Galt won a freekick on the left and Cameron Belford took Jamie McKernon’s cross under pressure from Adam Cummins.
Early play was disrupted by soft fouls but Queen’s were gradually building a toehold and they almost went ahead in 14 minutes. Sean Burns won a foul on the left, McKernon’s free-kick was knocked on and Aiden Malone, with a cute backheel, sent the ball agonisingly wide of the far post.
If that was close, Queen’s created even better openings in the following couple of minutes, through Paul Woods and then Anton Brady, but each time the visitors’ defence managed to scramble the ball clear. Stranraer’s best outlet was the pace of Craig Thomson down the right and he set up their first chance from open play with a driving run and cross that Willie Gibson headed well wide. Queen’s almost had a kamikaze moment seven minutes into the second half. Cummins’ poor touch as he brought the ball out gifted Gibson possession and he played Scott Agnew into the box but the midfielder’s powerful shot from 12 yards cleared the bar. Stranraer had started the half better, with the slight figure of Kyle Turner pulling the strings, and as the rain belted down, Bryan Wharton was booked for pulling back Gibson to stop a break. So it was probably no surprise when the visitors scored on the hour, when the ever dangerous Gibson picked up a short clearance just outside the box and rattled a shot past William Muir. Queen’s had a chance to level things on 66 minutes when Woods’ good run on the left ended with a cutback that Galt swung at but completely missed from 10 yards.
Their last free- kick brought The Spiders another chance, Cummins winning the near- post jump but heading wide.
Then, a minute later Galt — despite his shirt being blatantly pulled in the box — stood up a cross that McKernon tamely headed wide.
Apart from a Burns rocket over the bar from 35 yards, Stranraer comfortably played out time.
MacPherson said: “It was a scrappy game with little goalmouth action. It was a soft goal to concede although their player took it very well.
“It was frustrating. We never really got into the rhythm that we have shown in the last couple of matches.
“We’re disappointed but if you look at the big picture, we’ve merited what we’ve put on the board so far.”
Battle for possession Defender Adam Cummins tussles with Blues man Pic: Ian Cairns
Skipper’s shot Sean Burns came close to levelling in the final stages Pic: Ian Cairns
No-go area Paul Woods is halted by the Stranraer defence Pic Ian Cairns