At long last, after six postponements and one abortive trip as far as Dunkeld, this match was finally played. A first visit to Elgin's Borough Briggs ground for most of us and a pleasant little ground awaited. Small but tidy and with a bookmakers within the ground quoting prices for Andy Martin, Sandy Hodge and Steve Preen (none of whom are still with us) to be first goalscorer.
With manager John Connolly in Orlando on business, it was assistant Ian Scott who took charge of team affairs today and with Warren Hawke injured, Jon Sunderland moved into the centre of midfield and Dean Muir came into the side on the right. Dennis Boyle appeared out of nowhere to replace Paul Kinnaird in the starting line up and Steven Skinner got the nod as Peter Weatherson's partner ahead of Alan Hogg.
The first chance of any note came after ten minutes when a Queens free-kick from the left was headed partially clear and Dennis Boyle struck the rebound from outside the box. However, Elgin keeper, Martin Pirie, reacted well to touch the shot wide for a corner. On 16 minutes, at the other end, Elgin skipper, Colin Milne, missed the target with a free header six yards out following a right sided corner. However, although Elgin had most of the possession, they failed to make much impression on a stoic Queens defence and most of the chances fell at the other end. In the 20th minute Skinner headed well over from Dean Muir's right sided cross and, in the 23rd minute, Boyle again struck one from outside the box, this time going just wide with Pirie beaten. The breakthrough came in the 37th minute from the best move of the half. Paddy Atkinson and Dean Muir interchanged passes on the right touchline before Atkinson swung in a deep cross. Danny Paterson met it well beyond the far post and helped it back into the penalty area where Skinner struck a shot. Although the shot was charged down the ball broke clear to Peter Weatherson and the top scorer made no mistake bagging his 13th of the season from about 12 yards out.
At half-time Ian Scott made his first change when Paul Kinnaird came on for Danny Paterson but, to be honest, very little action of any note occurred until the Third Division side were presented with a gilt edged chance to equalise out of nothing. This came after 62 minutes when Colin Milne struck a long range effort from the left side. Mathieson should have gathered comfortably but allowed the ball to spill from his arms and then, in attempting to retrieve the ball, pulled down a City player. The referee immediately pointed to the spot but "Smiler" atoned for the error by dropping to his left, blocking Colin Milne's poorly taken kick and then jumping up to collect the rebound before anybody else could reach it. The stuffing seemed to go out of Elgin after this miss and for the rest of the match Queens were pretty comfortable.
On 73 minutes Phil Nixon replaced Dean Muir and Jon Sunderland moved back to his more accustomed right sided role as Queens attempted to tighten things up and, three minutes later, we should really have killed the tie off. Andy Aitken's long ball forward seemed to see both Weatherson and Skinner offside. However, the flag stayed down and Weatherson muscled his way in on goal only to see Pirie block his first effort and, as the ball broke back to him off balance, he hit the rebound over the top. A minute later, Elgin's last chance of any note came when a corner kick from the left pinballed around the box before being cleared.
In the 81st minute Queens made their final change when Alan Hogg finally got his debut, replacing Skinner, and within seconds a Jon Sunderland cross found the head of Peter Weatherson only to be deflected clear. With three minutes remaining Queens had another superb chance when they broke quickly upfield and Weatherson's clever step-over left Paul Kinnaird clear on goal. However, the veteran took too long over the shot and it was charged down by a defender. A minute later Hogg did put the ball into the net after being put clear by Atkinson and Weatherson but he was a half-yard offside.
In truth, this was a competent if uninspiring win by Queens. The whole game had the look and feel of a pre-season friendly, perhaps because both sides had gone so long without a game. Elgin had a lot of possession, especially in the first half, but rarely, if ever, threatened to do anything with it, lacking the necessary cutting edge. Queens did enough to win and that's about all there is to say about it. We'll have to do better to oust the Challenge Cup winners, Airdrie, from the competition.