Toon almost there

SECOND DIVISION PLAY OFF'PETERHEAD V QUEENS PARK'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S DAVID COX TURNS TO CELEBRATE HIS OPENING GOAL
SECOND DIVISION PLAY OFF'PETERHEAD V QUEENS PARK'(DUNCAN BROWN)''PETERHEAD'S DAVID COX TURNS TO CELEBRATE HIS OPENING GOAL

The Peterhead bandwagon just keeps rolling on! Another competent performance saw the Blue Toon sweep aside their semi-final opponents with impressive ease and into the two-leg final against East Fife.

A late Andy Rodgers penalty at Hampden had given Peterhead a narrow advantage from the first leg.

The Blue Toon should have taken an early lead midway through the first half after Jamie Redman broke up the right and picked out Bryan Gilfillan.

His first0time effort slipped McAllister through and his drive looked to be heading into the net until Parry produced a magnificent save.

It was McAllister who looked dangerous again just before half-time, but with Parry beaten it slipped agonisingly past the post.

Five minutes into the second period it was Peterhead who looked dangerous again when Cox released Gilfillan on the left and Andrew Robertson was at full stretch to head his cross clear with McAllister waiting to pounce.

Peterhead suffered a major blow just after the hour mark when McAllister limped off, replaced by Rodgers.

He was immediately in the thick of things when he sent a lobbed effort against the woodwork.

It had looked like it would be all-square for the re-match at Balmoor until Steven Noble launched a free kick deep into the home box and Blair Spittal slid in on Andy Rodgers to give away a spot kick.

Rodgers picked himself up, dusted himself down and duly netted with ease from 12 yards.

With nothing to lose, Queen’s Park were expected to push their hosts hard at Balmoor, but instead kept their shocking record in play-off games intact. They have now lost their last ten!

With nine consecutive wins under their belt, Peterhead confidence was high and this tie was over before the game was barely ten minutes old.

Rory McAllister had limped off at Hampden causing concerns over his fitness for this game but that was dispelled when he set up the first goal in the fourth minute.

He had actually had a good chance presented to him via a long ball forward from Scott Ross a minute earlier but in uncharacteristic style sent his wayward volley to the left of goal.

His confidenc e was clearly unaffected as he soon set up the opener with some skilfull trickery by the corner flag on the right.

He ghosted past a couple of Queen’s Park defenders to the edge of the penalty area and squared to David Cox who wheeled to score from six yards out.

Six minutes later the tie was put to bed with a superb goal, started and finished by man of the match Cox.

Picking the ball up inside his own half he drove forward, played a one-two with McAllister then raced into the area and picked his spot.

A rain storm as the break approached left noticeable puddles over the pitch but the Blue Toon players skipped through them in search of more goals. The visitors showed a bit more purpose after half time but rarely looked capable for breaching their hosts’ disciplined rearguard.

The third goal came after 64 minutes and inevitably involved Cox. He whipped in a free kick from wide on the right, Rodgers stretched his neck to head on towards the back post where McAllister bundled the ball high into the net. With both sides fielding all three substitutes, in the case of Peterhead to keep two of his booked players out of the firing line, the last thing Jim McInally needed was one of his players getting shown a completely needless red card.

One of those subs, Ryan Strachan, stupidly kicked out at Lawrence Shankland with the ball long gone for the only black spot on another smooth and professional performance.

Well, there was one more, the conceding of a consolation to the Spiders two minutes from time, Shankland exacting revenge for the Strachan challenge with a close range volley.

The furious reaction of goalkeeper Graeme Smith to the loss of only his second goal in those ten games says it all about the attitude that the manager has instilled in his team in recent weeks.

Another busy week lies ahead as Peterhead look to complete the journey that looked so unlikely in early March.

They travel down to New Bayview on Wednesday night before hosting East Fife at Balmoor on Sunday at 3pm for what should be a terrific occasion in front of a bumper crowd.