Queen's fine away form continued with this hard fought win at Stirling, a place where, over the years, we have won all too rarely. To nobody's great surprise, John Connolly made no changes at all to last week's successful side.
The match began late, at almost five past three, and the players from both sides were slow off the mark too. It took fully twelve minutes to generate a chance worthy of note but, when it came, Peter Weatherson really should have given us the lead. Paddy Atkinson managed to get a perfect cross in from the left at the second attempt and it found the young striker unmarked six yards out. However, he was only able to direct his header wide of the near post with Reid, in the Stirling goal, stranded. A minute later, a half clearance from a Jon Sunderland cross fell to Danny Paterson. He struck a decent half volley towards goal but Reid dealt with it comfortably enough.
In the 35th minute, Phil Nixon played a ball in to Weatherson just inside the penalty area. He controlled it on his chest and spun to send a powerful volley goalward only to see Reid throw himself spectacularly to his left and make the save. Albion broke straight upfield and a slip by Pickering gave them their first real sight of goal. However, the forward elected to try to bend the ball into the top corner in the same manner Robert Pires did for Arsenal in midweek and, fortunately for us, just missed the far post.
In the 41st minute, Stirling's Kevin Gaughan, having already been spoken to by the referee for persistent climbing, clattered through the back of Peter Weatherson and picked up the first booking of the match. Two minutes later though Albion almost broke the deadlock when Charlie King powerfully met a left sided cross with a good header from about the penalty spot, only to see it beat the right hand post as well as Mathieson. Right on half time a Pickering cross was headed partially clear only to be met by Stuart Davidson on the volley. With Reid unable to get there the shot just missed the left post.
It was Queen's who made the better start to the second half as well. In the 54th minute, good work by Suddick on the edge of the box fed Stuart Davidson into the danger area. His cross / shot from almost at the byeline was gathered by Reid at the second attempt. Within a minute, a long ball from defence saw Peter Weatherson beat the offside trap. However, he was driven wide and elected to hit the ball first time from the left side of the penalty box. Chris Reid again made the save look comfortable. Ray Stewart had seen enough and elected to change things by bringing on the ever dangerous Ally Graham.
On 59 minutes Davidson again picked up a good ball from Pickering and made for the byeline. Again however, his cut back was anticipated by the "Bino's" keeper and gathered up. It was only a matter of time though until Graham made his presence felt. In the 61st minute Albion attacked down the right hand side and crossed deep to the back post. Graham towered above all and cleanly won the header. Deliberately or otherwise though it went back across the face of the goal, just needing a touch, before Paterson and Mathieson scrambled it clear between them.
Three minutes later, John Connolly made his first change of the game, bringing on Warren Hawke for Phil Nixon. In the seventieth minute the change paid full dividends when Queens finally grabbed the lead. A decent attack broke down but Peter Weatherson didn't give up and, as Stirling dallied on the ball in midfield, he won possession with a clean tackle. The ball was fed to Danny Paterson who advanced towards the penalty area before passing to the overlapping substitute, Warren Hawke. Hawke cut into the penalty box on the left and, with everybody on both sides expecting a cross, caught Chris Reid out with a strike low to the bottom left corner which found the net via the post for a well deserved lead.
For ten minutes Queens remained in comfortable control before, with 80 minutes played, a long ball from the back gave Jarrod Suddick the chance to go clear. However, seeking to gain an advantage, he clearly pulled back Albion's Gordon Hunter and the referee, quite rightly, awarded the free kick to Stirling. That, however, did not excuse the former Hibee from the usual fate when, right in front of the assistant referee, he reacted to the pull by blatantly elbowing Suddick in the face. There was only one possible consequence and Hunter rightly received a red card for his actions. A minute later, Stuart Davidson became the only Queen's booking of the game for an accumulation of niggly fouls. A further minute later and Ally Graham joined him in the referee's notebook for dissent.
The only further incident of any note came with four minutes left when an Albion corner kick bounced about in the box before being solidly met with a shot from about ten yards out. Mathieson dived smartly down to his left to make a good block and the defence completed the clearance. Eventually, at about five to five, following the late start and a number of injury stoppages which were invariably lengthened by the ridiculous behaviour of the St Andrew's Ambulance women on duty (wandering on to the pitch very slowly before standing watching whichever team's physio was on the field work from about ten yards away. Having realised they were not needed they would then wander off the pitch equally slowly and by the longest route they could manage. On more than one occasion the players and officials were made to wait for them to leave the field before play could recommence. At one point Jon Sunderland attempted to get on with the game around them!), the referee called a halt and we celebrated our fourth league win of the season.