On an evening when most people's thoughts were on other, more important World events, Queens eased comfortably through to the Second Round of the CIS Cup. Unlike the Challenge Cup match at Airdrie, John Connolly resisted the temptation to experiment with his line up and, instead, sent out an unchanged team for the third successive game. No disrespect to our hosts who were quite welcoming, if a little sparse in number (I would say Queens fans comfortably made up at least three quarters of the crowd) but, on this showing, it's easy to see why almost every team relegated from Division Two is soon seen challenging at the top of the Third. There was a clear gap in class between the two sides and Queens really should have won this match by much more than the final three goal margin.
In fact, Joe McAlpine had the ball in the net inside the first minute but he had strayed offside before firing home. However, East Stirling's Gregor McKechnie soon brought a good save from Colin Scott after breaking up the right wing following a Queens corner. In the fourth minute, a superb through ball left Peter Weatherson clear on goal but his shot from inside the box was parried out by the keeper. In fact, the Falkirk side's McKechnie threatened again three minutes later when his back post volley flashed across the face of goal and, at this point, the match had started like it would be an end to end cup tie. However, that was more or less the last we saw of East Stirlingshire as an attacking force and Queens, without playing especially well, dominated from then on in.
Midfield action at Firs Park.
In the 12th minute, a cross-field ball found Peter Weatherson at the back of the box and he cut inside his marker before beating the keeper low to the right side. Unfortunately, his goal drought was not ended as the ball struck the base of the post and rebounded back into play. The defence only half cleared though and Paddy Atkinson was able to work a shooting opportunity which he hit straight at David Hay in the 'Shire goal. Hay could only parry the ball up into the air and then watched as the ball dropped onto the top of the crossbar and out for a corner. With the woodwork struck twice in a minute it was clear a goal was coming and it duly arrived in the fifteenth minute. John Crawford won the ball in a tackle in the left back area and fed Peter Weatherson. Peter turned his man beautifully and played a superb pass out to Paddy Atkinson. Paddy moved the ball on out right to Gordon Connelly but was a little short with the pass. However, Connelly managed to beat the full back anyway and dropped a perfect cross onto the head of Craig Feroz standing unmarked in front of goal six yards out. His header, low to the left post, left Hay with no chance.
There was little more action of any note in the first half though Peter Weatherson might perhaps have done better when sent in on goal by O'Neill after 34 minutes. However, the striker's shot was parried out by Hay.
The second half began in similar fashion to the latter part of the first with little inspiration from either side. However, ten minutes in the East Stirling left back, McDonald, managed to work an opening on the left of the box though his weak shot was easily dealt with by Colin Scott. This seemed to galvanise Queens into action and, within a minute, the lead was doubled. It was Route One stuff with a long punt clear from the back by Jim Thomson dropping in front of Feroz about thirty yards from goal. He spotted Hay way off his line and immediately unleashed a half-volley which dropped into the top of the net over the scrambling keeper.
On the hour mark, Paddy Atkinson was booked for a late lunge at David Lorimar which saw the latter stretchered off and, five minutes later, Paddy was replaced with Jon Sunderland. It took just three minutes for Jon to have an effect as he took a Connell pass and broke into the box on the right. He fired low across the six yard box and, though the ball was missed by Weatherson and a defender at the near post, it only reached that man Feroz standing just beyond the six yard area at the back post. He hit a first time shot which was over the line before a defender could hack it clear ; the first hat trick by Queens player since Weatherson's treble at home to Stenhousemuir last October.
That finished the scoring but not the incidents of note. In 70 minutes, Gregor McKechnie beat John Crawford and found himself with a great chance for a consolation inside our box but he failed to even trouble Scott with a low shot, wide of the right post. Within a minute, at the other end, Sunderland fed Connell who turned his marker cleverly before curling a shot just wide of the left post. Four minutes later, some terrific work on the left by Peter Weatherson saw him put in a fine low cross which John O'Neill looked to have turned in at the back post but somehow Hay saved with his legs. Two minutes after that O'Neill again was denied by a good save down at his right post by Hay. Finally, with ten minutes remaining, Queens netted for the fifth time. Unfortunately this would be a second ruled out for offside. Jim Thomson's header from a right sided corner seemed to be going in anyway before it was turned in by John O'Neill standing on the line. If O'Neill had left it untouched it would be interesting to see how the referee would have ruled. However, he was clearly offside and, since he actually knocked the ball in, no goal was the correct decision. Immediately after this the hat trick hero, Feroz, was replaced by Stuart Connolly.
And there it should have finished. Unfortunately for us it didn't and in the last minute came the incident which soured the match for us, and Peter Weatherson in particular. The ball was played into "Nellie" on the halfway line and he laid the ball off before going for a possible return. The 'Shire substitute, Hall, grabbed hold of him and was pulling him back. In an effort to get free Peter tried to slap him off. Down went the defender as if he'd been shot and up went the Assistant Referee's flag. The conclusion was inevitable I suppose. A yellow card for the original offender and a red card shown to Peter for the reaction. All so unnecessary and, as this will be a violent conduct dismissal, he will now miss Saturday's match at Cowdenbeath at the very least.
In summary, this was a comfortable and competent win in a match in which we were rarely troubled. We can't expect such an easy ride in subsequent rounds. However, the sending off and impending suspension of Peter Weatherson was something we could well do without, especially given the shortage of resources we have in the striking role at this time.
Thanks to David Gow for the photographs.