Queen’s Park goal hero Ian Watt is aiming to make it third time lucky after his strike helped ensure a third successive playoff appearance for the Spiders.
The winger’s 71st minute goal added to Jamie Longworth’s first half opener as Queen’s beat fellow playoff hopefuls Annan Athletic 2-0 at Hampden to set up a semi final with Stranraer in May.
After being on the losing side at the semi final stage in the previous two campaigns, Watt is desperate to guide his team back to Division 2 for the first time since 2009.
Speaking after the game, Watt said: “We’ve come up short in the playoffs before. We’ve been in the playoffs every year since I’ve been here but we’ve never got through to the final, so we’re hoping to go two better and go up this season. We’ve got a good chance, we’ll just keep our feet on the ground and hope we can do it.”
Queen’s manager Gardner Speirs was delighted to secure their place in the playoffs, but hinted that he could use next week’s dress-rehearsal against Stranraer in the league to rest a couple of key players.
Speaking about injuries to Watt, Tony Quinn and Daryll Meggatt, Speirs said: “I don’t know if the teams next week will be the same as in a playoff game. We’ll look at one or two things and if there’s an opportunity to rest one or two with knocks then we’ll do that. We certainly don’t want to lose any momentum or any edge to our play, so we have to be careful to strike a balance between that.”
Queen’s Park only required one point to guarantee their place in the playoffs, but they never looked like getting anything less than three against a disappointing Annan side.
David Anderson came within inches of scoring his first goal for the club after only four minutes when he cut in from the right and unleashed a rasping left foot drive that cannoned off Alex Mitchell’s crossbar.
The dangerous Jamie Longworth then stung the palms of Mitchell with a powerful drive from the edge of the area that the keeper took two attempts to gather.
Annan seemed unable to get a foothold in the game, and Queen’s deservedly took the lead after half an hour thanks to a piece of quick thinking by Tony Quinn.
Peter Watson was penalised for a foul on the edge of the area and as he remonstrated with the referee the alert Quinn took the free kick quickly, setting Paul McGinn free in the box. His cross was met by the unmarked Longworth who calmly guided the ball past Mitchell and into the net.
The visitors made a couple of substitutions early in the second half, introducing Bryan Gilfillan and David Winters, and it almost paid off after 76 minutes when Gilfillan’s knock down at the back post was met by Winters on the penalty spot, but his drive struck the bar.
And just seconds later Queen’s made them pay when Quinn beat the offside trap to get on the end of the omnipresent David Anderson’s through ball, and his cut back was coolly slotted into the net by Watt.
Annan could have scored a consolation goal with just two minutes remaining when Jack Steele pounced on a defensive error by Richard Little to race clear on goal, but he somehow managed to miss the target as his side’s miserable day was compounded.
Annan boss Harry Cairney lamented his side’s poor performance and conceded that a playoff spot for his side now looks unlikely: “We’ve got to win our two remaining games and hope that Elgin slip up, so I don’t think I can say that I’m confident”, he said. “Queen’s Park deserved the victory, they were the better side overall. They are a good footballing side but we gave them too much respect in that sense.”
Speirs, though, was delighted with team’s performance, but stressed that there was still a lot of work to be done before thoughts could turn to the playoff ties.
“If you can’t win the league you should aim to finish second,” he said. “There’s a bit of work to be done yet, but we’ll try to do that.”
Queen’s Park: Parry, McGinn, Meggat, Little, Brough, Anderson, Watt (Ronald 73), McBride, Quinn (Smith 79), Longworth, Burns (Murray 86)
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Muirhead, McGowan, Swinglehurst, Watson, Steele, Sloan (Winters 46), Jardine (Gilfillan 61), O’Connor (Mitchell 79), McKechnie, Cox