Elgin City reach League 1 play-offs after pulsating 3-2 victory over champions Queen’s Park
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KANE Hester’s hat-trick earned Elgin City a place in the play-offs as they beat champions Queen’s Park 3-2 at Borough Briggs.
The Black and Whites needed a draw but went one better thanks to a tremendous team performance against the Spiders.
Gavin Price made two changes to his starting line-up from Saturday’s defeat at Edinburgh City, bringing in Stephen Bronsky and Archie Macphee in place of David Wilson and Craig Brown.
As expected Elgin looked fired up and created the first chance from a Macphee corner which Darryl McHardy nodded into the side netting.
The visitors were strong in possession but City had the next opportunity when Russell Dingwall threaded in Kane Hester, who had the goal in his sights and swung to shoot until Stuart Morrison dived in with a terrific saving tackle.
Hester was inches away from connecting with a driven Brian Cameron cross, while at the other end Elgin keeper Tom McHale showed superb awareness and handling for everything thrown into the home box.
The game exploded to life with three goals in five minutes at the start of the second half.
Elgin opened the scoring on 49 minutes when a defensive slip let in Aidan Sopel and he passed the ball on to Hester, who slotted home from a tight angle.
City were ecstatic when Hester added a second two minutes later, following the ball in after a Cameron strike bounced down off the underside of the bar.
But the home side didn’t hold their two-goal advantage for long, as two of Queen’s Park’s four subs combined for Tom Robson to cross and Will Baynham to head home.
Hester fired straight at keeper Willie Muir as the frantic spell continued, while McHale made a vital block from Baynham as the Spiders flooded forward.
Hester again found space but fired wide just before the hour mark.
But the striker completed his hat-trick with a brilliant strike high into the net from a pass by sub Craig Brown on 77 minutes.
Home nerves were jangling again three minutes from time when Spiders sub Luca Connell was given space in the box to fire home a low drive and make it 3-2.
But after three minutes of stoppages, the full time whistle signalled that Elgin’s season and promotion hopes are still alive
Elgin: McHale, Cooper, Spark, McHardy, Bronsky, Mailer, R.Dingwall (O’Keefe 84), Cameron, Hester (Peters 84), Macphee (Brown 69), Sopel (MacEwan 77).
Subs: Miller, Osadolor, O’Keefe, MacEwan, Peters, T.Dingwall, Wilson, Kelly.
Queens: Muir, Doyle, Kilday, Morrison, Paterson (Robson 46), Lyon (Carroll 46), Gillespie (Connell 46), Galt (Longridge 73), MacLean, McHugh, Kouider-Aissa (Baynham 46).
Subs: Gillies, Biggar, Heraghty.
Ref: Duncan Williams