Queen’s Park 2 Arbroath 1
Queen’s have been making plenty of chances, but just not converting them.
Could Ryan Hynes be the answer? He’s a 21-year-old striker signed this week by Queen’s from Drumchapel Amateurs, Glasgow’s prolific soccer academy.
Hynes, who played for Scotland in the UEFA Regions’ Cup last year, has played as a trialist in five games for the Strollers and he scored in four of them.
He went straight in to the squad today after training with the first team this week.
Queen’s made two changes from the draw at Methil, Shaun Rooney coming back from illness and replacing Gavin Mitchell, and Shaun Fraser starting in place of Ciaran McElroy, while Arbroath had former Spiders favourite Ricky Little at No2.
At the National Stadium, the park looked in perfect nick despite the winter weather that saw Rangers v Hearts end in farcical fashion last night.
But there was nothing farcical about the start made by Queen’s, as they roared into the lead in three minutes.
Rooney, attacking the traditional Hampden away end, won a tackle on the right touchline, under the main stand, fed Woods and then took a very neat return pass which saw him with a clear run all the way into the Arbroath box.
His low cutback was cleared, but only as far as Woods, who had continued his run and promptly rammed a right-foot shot past McCallum from 16 yards.
The perfect start for Queen’s, given their recent goal problems, but they could be certain of a response from the visitors. It was Queen’s, though, who continued to threaten, and a tantalising inswinging Miller free kick from wide left ripped across goal and beyond the far post without a Hoops shirt being able to make contact.
Arbroath showed their menace from the goal kick, Smith getting away on a break that was stopped in the box only by a fine Quinn sliding challenge.
The Lichties were getting a toehold in the game and Queen’s were fortunate to get blocks on two close-in Murray shots after a corner.
It was exciting stuff, and Queen’s came within inches of going 2-0 up in 15 minutes.
Burns weaved his way along the left to get in a cross which Fraser took on his chest, with his back to goal six yards out, then swivelled and crashed a right-foot shot off the bar. Great technique.
Rooney was causing havoc down the right. He bombed forward again but his cutback was too strong and first Woods and then Fraser failed to control it when they were in great positions in front of goal.
But a second goal for Queen’s was only delayed and it duly and deservedly came in 19 minutes.
We were looking inventive and controlled, playing with good width, but it was a ball through the middle that undid Arbroath again. Miller played it, McPherson executed a delightful dummy, and Burns was in the clear to break into the box, draw McCallum, and plant a low left-foot shot into the far corner. Woods was booked for a silly foul on Easton, but from the Arbroath free kick, Queen’s made a lightning break that should have ended better.
Rooney headed the free kick away, Berry booted it forward and McPherson got a touch ahead of the Abroath defence to send Fraser clear, but he looked in two minds whether to take it on and shoot or pass to Woods on his right – and in the end he did neither, knocking an aimless ball harmlessly wide.
McPherson had played a big part in Queen’s good show so far, but he had been struggling with what looked like a groin injury and eventually went off in 35 minutes.
That was the cue for young Hynes to make his entrance. His first touch was excellent, holding off McBride to control a pass and knock it back to Woods.
His second touch wasn’t too shabby, either, moving onto a through ball and winning a corner that Rooney blasted over the bar, and his third was a first time shot that was powerful enough but off target. So, a busy introduction for young Hynes, and not a bad Drum roll for a superb first half.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 2 Arbroath 0
Arbroath were late out for the restart and their response to being 2-0 down saw them force Muir into a save within the first minute.
But within the next two minutes Queen’s saw Rooney twice head over the bar, the first time beating keeper McCallum to a Miller free kick and the second from a Miller corner.
But Queen’s needed Muir to be at his best as Arbroath twice came close, pushing a Linn shot for a corner and then getting a good touch to knock away another corner.
You had to expect that the visitors would come back – they are not the leaders for nothing – and Queen’s had to remain alert at the back and continue to press in midfield, which they had been doing successfully thus far.
It should have been 2-1 just before the hour, but McGeever contrived to power a free header over the bar from a corner when it looked easier to find the net.
And it should have been 2-1 in 62 minutes, when Linn burst down the left and fired over a low cross which eluded the defence and fell to Murray, who had only Muir to beat but instead knocked the ball against a post and the keeper cleared.
Arbroath, having already replaced Smith with Buchan, sent on Lowdon for Johnstone, and he arrived just in time to see Muir save from Murray at one end and then McCallum at full stretch turn a Hynes shot for a corner at the other.
This was a good game and worthy of a title battle.
Queen’s had been defending well, and they had to as Arbroath tried to turn the screw, and Gus MacPherson tightened things up in the middle when he sent on Fotheringham for Fraser with 15 minutes left.
Queen’s were seeing the game out comfortably enough until a Linn shot in 92 minutes took a wild deflection off Berry and beat Muir.
Queen’s last Hampden victory came on Saturday, April 20, 2013, when they hammered East Stirling 5-1 en route to the play-offs.