Rory McAllister curled home a strike fitting of the surroundings as Peterhead came away from Hampden with a 1-0 win over playoff-bound Queen’s Park, writes Dave Gray.
It was the only goal of a game in which Jim McInally’s side never really looked under threat - despite the blow of losing goalkeeper Paul Jarvie in the warm-up.
Jarvie had been due to start the game but suffered a pelvic injury which saw Ray Jellema step into the breach at the last minute.
The only other change to the side that had lost to Berwick Rangers saw Scott Ross make his first start after a dislocated kneecap. He replaced Craig Tully who dropped to the bench. Jellema was called into action as early as the third minute, as he took a firm grip of dangerman Jamie Longworth’s angled shot.
And a minute later, McAllister’s willingness to get a shot away tested Spiders keeper Neil Parry, who clutched the strike at the second attempt. It was a bright start for both sides, but the play soon settled into a midfield battle which Peterhead began to take control of, albeit with chances at a premium.
There was some light relief as the stadium announced, confused by a change of shirt for Ryan Strachan after treatment for a bloody nose, announced a non-existent substitution.
Longworth was looking the home side’s best bet for a goal, and he should have done better from Martin McBride’s free-kick than to head over Jellema’s crossbar. On the half-hour, another Peterhead chance saw McAllister fire another effort towards the home goal, but Parry was able to clutch the ball comfortably.
Five minutes from the interval, the best move of the game so far saw Strachan feed Martin Bavidge down the right. The striker hit the bye-line before standing up a cross for Russell Duncan at the back post, the midfielder heading into the side-netting. The Blue Toon stepped it up a gear after the interval, and the former Brechin pair of McAllister and Jamie Redman combined to give the latter a chance but, left-footed, he steered his shot wide of the post.
Two minutes later, a Roy McBain cross from the left found Callum Macdonald in space at the back post, Parry diving low to his right to hold the Peterhead captain’s header on the line.
And Peterhead’s pressure on the home goal paid off as Redman, who had impressed in the midfield all afternoon, picked off Michael Daly and drove deep into the Spiders half before slipping a ball left to McAllister. The striker needed no second invitation to step inside his man and curl high into the far corner of the net from 20 yards for his eighteenth goal of the season.
The home side responded immediately and Longwirth dragged a low shot wide of Jellema’s goal, but Peterhead could have extended their lead. A 25-yard free kick saw McAllister, clearly in the mood, step up and fire a low shot towards goal only for Parry to get down low to his left and turn the ball away.
The home side made positive changes to try to find a leveller, but Redman could have put the result beyond doubt as he again ran at the home defence, only to shoot inches wide as he took aim for the far corner of the net.
One of the Spiders’ substitutes, Craig Smith, had the home side on their feet when he found the net with a thunderous 20-yard strike, but the cheers were short-lived as the ball had hit the side-netting.
Another sub, David Murray, had a similar outcome from closer range after getting in behind combination of Redman and Davie Donald, but the Blue Toon held onto their clean sheet and deservedly headed back north with all three points.
PETERHEAD: Jellema, Donald, McBain, Ross, Macdonald, Strachan, Sharp (Webster 75), Redman, McAllister (Davidson 90), Bavidge (Wyness 85), Duncan. Subs not used: Tully, Jarvie (gk).