Match Report by Chris Marshall. Photo via @QueensParkfc on twitter.
Queen’s Park secured promotion to next season’s Scottish Building Society SWPL 2 in dramatic fashion as two injury time goals sealed a 4-4 draw at home to Hibernian U23s and the point they required in what was an incident packed final day in the SWFL Division One South promotion race.
Queen’s came into the game knowing that a draw or victory would see off rivals Renfrew in the promotion chase, whilst a loss for the Spiders and a win for the New Western Park side away to Boroughmuir Thistle would see ‘Frew make the step up.
Drama was soon unfolding before a ball was kicked in Mount Florida when the start at Lesser Hampden was delayed by forty minutes as a result of a late running official and by the time the game had commenced the other key contest of the day between Boroughmuir Thistle and Renfrew was already over as, with the home side 1-0 up, the referee called the game off amidst controversy with only 25 minutes on the clock.
Back in Glasgow, and with the game underway, it would be the visitors who would take an early lead as Anna Dickov’s close range effort rattled in off the underside of the bar inside two minutes.
The visitors had entered the game in relaxed mood knowing that 3rd spot in the SWFL Division One South table was assured but it would be promotion chasing Queen’s who would equalise on the 20th minute after a low, zipping Sarah Wardlaw cross was turned into her own net by Hibees defender Eve Donald. The scores would remained level at the interval as confusion continued in the terraces around what exactly had transpired earlier at Meggetland.
The game was quickly back under way as the official looked to make up for lost time and within five minutes of the interval the Edinburgh side found themselves back in front as an Eilidh Adams header made it’s way past Annika Meuskens in the Queen’s goal before a Holly Aitchison free kick three minutes later seemed to put the visitors out of sight whilst leaving the home side’s promotion chances hanging by a thread.
The Spiders weren’t done though and on the 68th minute they pulled it back to 3-2 when Frankie Fern was on hand to convert from a Cheryl Watt corner however their task was soon to be made more difficult as on the 71st minute captain Gemma McElhinney was shown a straight red card for bringing down Aitchison with the the forward clean through on Southsiders stopper Meuskens.
Despite the player deficit Queen’s continued to press towards Alicia Yates’ goal but were handed what seemed to be a fatal blow with just a minute of the ninety remaining when Aitchison found herself once again clean through on goal, this time rounding Meuskens before rolling the ball into the empty net.
But the game was far from over and a minute into injury time Ferns scored her second to set up a grandstand finish in front of a healthy SWFL crowd with the moment the home support had been waiting for finally coming in the 94th minute. After winning a free kick on the Hibernian right hand side a dangerous cross was whipped into the area making its way to the back post where defender Lauren Ray was on hand to nod in from close range, sending the home dugout into bedlam with what would prove to be the final meaningful touch of the game.
With the point secured, a promotion party could begin for Mark Kirk and his side, after what had been a chaotic final week in the SWFL Division One South promotion battle, safe in the knowledge that they will now take their place alongside nine other sides in next season’s newly expanded SWPL 2.
Queen’s Park: Meuskens, Davies, Mullen, Ray, Mcelhinney, Caldwell, Anderson, Watt, McKeown, Fern, Wardlaw. Subs: Dickson, Macpherson, Mackinnon, Porter, McDonald, O’Keeffe, Gibney.
Hibernian U23’s: Yates, Turner, Aitchison, Jamieson, Donald, Dickov, McCafferty, Adams, McDonald, Fellenger, Hay. Subs: Lowe, Smith, Rutherford.