Going into this afternoon’s Hampden clash, everything suggested a close encounter of the football kind lay in store.
History showed the all-time record between Queen’s and East Fife was all square – with 44 wins apiece in the 112-match series.
Current form also suggested little between the sides; both having recorded two wins in their opening three league fixtures … after both losing their first outings of the season.
So it was a clash of form sides, and little surprise in the home ranks when Gus MacPherson gave the nod to the XI who started at Arbroath and managed their third win on the bounce in all competitions.
However the role was reversed and the Spiders lost 2-0 to the Fifers.
Six minutes in, Queen’s won their first corner after a headed backpass from Kerr went badly wrong. The first was cleared, but Queen’s quickly won another two. Neither produced anything to get the crowd on their feet. But at least we were now moving in the right direction.
After 16 minutes, Bradley and Baty combined in defence to usher the ball behind for what they thought was a goal-kick. Referee Kirkland thought otherwise, however, and gave the corner. Like all the Spiders’ flagkicks to date, this one was also snuffed out without too much alarm.
The same couldn’t be said three minutes later when Wilkie dug out a great cross to the far post. Thankfully for the home team, Smith just failed to connect.
As the halfway point came and went in the first period, there was little on the park to suggest either side would run away with this one. It looked like a moment of genius or a mistake would be needed for the breakthrough. Sadly it was the mistake; and sadly it was Queen’s who made it after 27 minutes. Bradley gave the ball away in midfield and the Fifers broke forward. Murray played in Austin and although Muir saved his effort, Murray was on hand to fire home the rebound and put the visitors 1-0 ahead.
A bad goal to lose, but at least there was plenty of time for a recovery act.
East Fife had the ball in the net again a minute later, but the offside flag had already been raised.
The nearer we got to the interval, the more frustrating things became. Time and time again, we did well to win possession. Time and time again, we gave the ball away as we tried to go forward.
As the whistle sounded to end a pretty dismal 45 minutes, it was an angry looking Gus MacPherson who went off up the tunnel. Safe to say the team talk won’t offer too many “well done” comments to the players.
As if things weren’t going badly enough, Chris Duggan was getting treatment as the half ended. He failed to reappear for the second period.
Queen’s had obviously endured the proverbial flea in their ear at the interval, and came out a bit quicker after the break. Twice within the opening minute Burns broke well on the left and delivered better crosses. Queen’s threw on Marlowe but before the defence had time to readjust, they were 2-0 down. Austin twisted and turned us every which way … before firing the ball past Woods.
Forget about this being a tight one, QP were now in real danger of getting a doing. Naysmith almost scored direct from a corner after 64 minutes, and a minute later Austin teed up Murray.
All in all, it was a bad day at the office.