Spi­ders suf­fer first loss in 8

No Hog­manay cheer as Stran­raer kill the party

Rutherglen Reformer - - Sports - Mur­ray Spooner

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

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