Late strike sinks Blues

Craig Malcolm
Craig Malcolm

THE scene was set for Stranraer to pick up a victory and take their place at the top of the league.

Stranraer 2, Queen’s Park 3 Shaun Niven at Stair Park

This would require the Blues to defeat a side that had beaten them back in August but Queen’s Park hadn’t read the script and produced an excellent display to claim their first victory at Stair Park since January 2001.

Stranraer opened brightly and a move down the left gave Sean Winter a chance to cut in but Queen’s keeper Neil blocked the effort. Minutes later the Blues had the wind to thank for a great chance as a Steven Noble cross deceived Martin McBride and when Martin Grehan tried to take advantage his shot flew just a few yards wide.

Queen’s looked equally positive and a dangerous Sean Burns cross required intervention from Frank McKeown to head away for a corner. McBride then delivered a pinpoint cross to the front post where striker Jamie Longworth rose unchallenged and headed smartly past David Mitchell for the opener for the visitors. David Anderson had an effort from distance as the Spiders began to look dominant.

Stranraer needed something special and, on 23 minutes, it arrived with a superb move that resulted in an equaliser. The ball was worked down the right by Chris Aitken and Grant Gallagher who fed Winter in the centre. He shot but was denied by a fine Parry save. Craig Malcolm collected the loose ball and had the presence of mind to look up and find Martin Grehan who slotted the ball home. Six minutes later the Blues completed the turnaround. Grehan gained possession, beat James Brough and slipped the ball into the path of Malcolm who took a touch and finished neatly.

Both sides produced some decent stuff despite the difficult conditions and an made for an entertaining first half.

Brough didn’t reappear after the break and Anderson was injured within a minute but this misfortune didn’t prevent the visitors from taking control. Despite the odd piece of play from Stranraer, it was the Glasgow team dominating possession but not making the best use of it. McBride shot straight at Mitchell and the visiting support must have been wondering how they were going to unlock the home defence. The answer would be known less than two minutes after Craig Smith had entered the contest. Scott Taggart, in attempting to hook the ball clear, hit it straight off Smith who knew little about it but enough to celebrate when the ball evaded Mitchell and nestled in the net.

With a minute left, Queen’s clinched the points. Burns played the ball down the left and, as John Kane left the ball to run out, Murray chased, kept it in and played inside to Longworth. He looked up and crossed into the box where Ian Watt popped up to smash the ball into the net.

Gardner Speirs was delighted with his team’s general play and praised the fact that they got better as the game went. The effort, spirit and application earned his team a deserved victory.

Keith Knox, conversely, was most unhappy at the performance of the home side, particularly in the second half when they hadn’t done the good things they are capable of and had shown in the previous few games. Too many players had an off day and he would be looking for a big improvement for the upcoming game at Alloa.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, John Kane, Steven Noble, Scott Taggart, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Grant Gallagher, Stephen Stirling, Craig Malcolm, Martin Grehan (Michael Moore 67), Sean Winter (Stuart McColm 78). Subs Not Used: Nathan Shepherd, David MacGregor, Ryan Marshall