A REJIGGED Queen’s Park side slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Elgin City in what was a meaningless final game of the normal league season.
With both teams assured of their play-off place prior to this fixture, Gardner Speirs and City boss Ross Jack took the opportunity to give game-time to fringe players.
Goalkeeper Adam Strain, right-back Steven Baillie and centre half Paul Gallacher all made rare starts for the Spiders.
Regulars like Jamie Longworth, Ricky Little and James Brough were rested completely ahead of Wednesday night’s first leg play-off tie away to Stranraer.
An already quiet 527 Hampden crowd were silenced even further after just 4 minutes when Archie MacPhee put the visitors ahead.
The attacking midfielder angled in a left-footed finish after being found by Ross O’Donoghue’s pass.
Queen’s had a good chance to restore parity two minutes later, but neither Michael Daly nor Sean Burns could connect with Ian Watt’s centre from the right.
On 28 minutes the Spiders won an indirect free-kick inside Elgin’s penalty box when Zander Clark picked up a through ball that had taken a heavy touch off City defender David Niven.
Watt rolled the set-piece to Martin McBride six yards from goal, but his shot was blocked by the solid line of Elgin players along the goalmouth.
Into the second half, and a few menacing runs down the left-hand side from Peter Bradley mustered some applause amongst the home support.
Jason Crooks had a superb opportunity to double the visitors’ lead on 63 minutes when he dispossessed Daryll Meggatt, but Strain saved well in the ensuing one on one.
However Crooks made no mistake on 72 minutes, firing home after good set-up play from Paul Millar.
The rearranged Queen’s team were struggling to piece passes together and before long Elgin increased their lead to 3-0.
This time Jamie Duff scrambled MacPhee’s corner into Strain’s net.
There was to be one moment of cheer for Spiders fans, though.
On 88 minutes Craig Smith chested down a headed clearance before hitting a looping volley over Clark from the edge of the box – a tidy consolation.
Gardner Speirs said: “It took us a wee while to find our feet - it’s difficult when there are so many changes. We did well enough without really being a threat.”
Ross Jack said: “A lot of the fringe players got a game and I was delighted with them. It was nice to see the depth of the squad out there. We knocked the ball about well on a brilliant surface.”
Queen’s travel to Stair Park on Wednesday night having won all four meetings with the Blues this season, but almost certainly without influential midfielder David Anderson for this one. He is unlikely to have recovered from a hamstring strain in time.
Meanwhile, in other football at the weekend, Pollok were celebrating after a win on penalty kicks against Renfrew in the D&D Programmes Central League Cup quarter final. The sides were tied 3-3 after extra time.
In cricket, Clydesdale defeated Arbroath in a tight encounter while at Shawholm, NVT Poloc fell short of Greenock’s first-innings total of 228 by 86 runs.