Queen's Park 1 - 3 Ayr United
A good crowd of 1,092 people made their way into Hampden with the sun shining on a fine April's afternoon. Kick off followed the presentation of the SFL Under-17s League Trophy to the Queen's Park Under 17s and Gardner Speirs made no changes from the side which dumped Peterhead and Berwick Rangers in previous weeks. Zander Cowie was in goals, Paton, Brough, Agostini and Canning were at the back with John Neill, Mark Ferry, Paul Cairney and Alan Trouten in midfield. Goal machine Tony Quinn partnered Stuart McGrady up front.
The game started at a slow pace but Cowie was forced into a save within four minutes. Alex Williams was sent through by Ryan Stevenson and Cowie made a good save with his legs to deny the ex Stirling Albion and Morton forward. Cowie was forced also to save at the feet of Martyn Campbell following Stevenson's wicked corner kick. Brechin bound Stephen Canning had Queen's first serious opportunity after 14 minutes, blasting over after being laid up by Neill, 25 yards from goal.
Damiano Agostini then made a great tackle to deny Alex Williams a clean sight of Cowie's goal before Mark Ferry curled a free kick over Ayr keeper Mark McGeown's crossbar. Wardlaw capatalised on a poor kick out by Cowie, but could only blaze his effort from 30 yards well wide. Queen's were forced into a change on 28 minutes, Paul Cairney was visibly struggling and on came Stuart Kettlewell, returning from his three match ban picked up at Cowdenbeath.
Ayr's Alastair Woodburn was booked just after the half hour for a blatant dive over Agostini's leg in the penalty box before Ryan Stevenson forced a decent save from Cowie, with a powerful drive from 20 yards. 42 minutes in and Queen's forwards had their first chance to punish Ayr. McGrady laid up Quinn just outside the box but he dragged his effort wide of the keeper's right hand post. As half time approached, 0-0 was looking likely, until an uncharacteristic error from Paul Paton cost Queen's a goal. He lost the ball to Stevenson 25 yards from goal, and Stevenson bore down on goal, he dived past Brough and hammered the ball past Cowie with Agostini bearing down on him, twelve yards out. A great goal which showcased the talents of Stevenson, likely to be playing Premier League football next season.
Queen's were out the blocks quickly in the Second Half, and Mark Ferry's volley from 20 yards seemed goalbound before it struck the back of the unaware Martyn Campbell. Cowie then held a long range Stevenson drive, with the Ayr midfielder keen to make a bigger impression at the National Stadium. Cowie then made a great save to deny Paul McLeod after a mix up between Agostini and Brough, blocking what looked to be a certain goal with his legs as McLeod bore down on goal. Ayr were dominant, and when Cowie missed a corner, Jamie Brough was forced to head clear off the goal line. Canning then forced a save from McGeown before Williams doubled Ayr's lead on 53 minutes.
The AWOL Queen's defence gave McLeod acres of room and his neat through ball was met by Williams, he outstripped Brough for pace and chipped the despairing Cowie as he dived at his feet for a fine second goal. Stuart Kettlewell was beginning to drive Queen's forward and on the hour he won a foul on the far side, and then a corner on the far side moments later. This corner was swung in, and with Agostini and McGrady both readying to shoot, Kettlewell appeared from nowhere to lash the ball past McGeown and give Queen's a gilmmer of hope.
Trouten and Kettlewell both had half chances to level things but soon after, the Honest Men were back on top. Both Wardlaw and Stevenson almost scored before Queen's were denied what looked to be a stonewall penalty. Canning was poleaxed by Campbell six yards out as he readied to shoot, and somehow George Salmond said no penalty. Stuart McGrady then dragged a shot wide after a neat nutmeg took Campbell out the game on the right hand side. Soon after, on 72 minutes, McGrady was replaced by 18 year old striker David Torrance, making his Hampden debut. He made little impact however, and Ayr won the game with a third towards the end. McLaren's cross was missed by Paton, and Alex Williams, still limping from a knock taken from an Agostini tackle, flicked the header past Cowie from three yards.
QUEEN'S PARK: Zander Cowie, Paul Paton, Stephen Canning, Jamie Brough, Damiano Agostini, Alan Trouten, Stuart McGrady (David Torrance), Paul Cairney (Stuart Kettlewell), Tony Quinn, John Neill, Mark Ferry
SUBS NOT USED: Mark Cairns (g/k), Shaun Molloy, Martin Ure
GOALSCORER: Stuart Kettlewell (61)
BOOKED: Damiano Agostini
REFEREE: George Salmond (North Berwick)
MAN OF THE MATCH: John Neill