Football can be a cruel game sometimes, Saturday in Falkirk truly showed that after Queens` season came to an end.
The Doonhamers fell 3-1 to Falkirk in the Premiership play-off second leg after extra time.
A Blair Alston strike in the closing minutes of the game sealed the victory for Gary Holt`s Falkirk, after Rory Loy and Craig Sibbald had overturned Bob McHugh`s first half strike.
After Tuesday`s dramatic 2-1 victory over the Bairns, Jim McIntyre`s side were anything but qualified for the second round of the play-offs with Hamilton awaiting the winner.
Three changes were made to the starting 11 with goalscoring hero Bob McHugh spearheading the Queens attack once again at the Falkirk Stadium for the sixth meeting of the two sides this season.
Going in to the two-legged tie, Falkirk had won three of the previous meetings but the form book goes out the window for the big games, as was demonstrated on Tuesday night.
And with the chance to play Premiership football next season, there could be no bigger incentive and that was clear to bumper crowd of 4427, 1033 of which were Queens fans.
The game started at a frantic pace and within ten minutes the Falkirk fans and Rory Loy had a penalty shout waved away by Referee Calum Murray but the danger wasn`t over for Queens. From the resulting two corners which followed Mark Beck and Will Vaulks both had great chances from six yards out but they were wasteful.
Bob McHugh continued from where he left off on Tuesday night as he looked lively, with an overhead kick after 15 minutes being Queens` first real chance, but the ball agonisingly went past the post.
However, the early stages were mainly controlled by the home side and Gary Holt`s men came close again through Vaulks, this time as his header took a cruel deflection but Clark dealt with it.
The Queens stopper was called in to action again after 25 minutes as he saved a corner from Mark Millar, which almost curled in directly from the delivery. At the other end, Michael McGovern hadn`t made a save for Falkirk in the opening half hour.
The Northern Irishman was almost called in to action as Danny Carmichael ran forty yards and looked to be one on one with McGovern but as he cut back Johnny Flynn made a fantastic challenge, and denying Queens the opening goal of the game.
Momentum started to build though for McIntyre`s men and Ian McShane hit a piledriver of a free-kick which narrowly missed the top corner as Queens started to gain the upper hand.
And on 35 minutes again it was Tuesday`s hero Bob McHugh who firmly put Queens in control with a fantastic strike. The Motherwell loanee chested the ball before turning from 12 yards out and rifling the ball home - giving McGovern no chance and McHugh his fourth goal in three games.
McHugh swivels, shoots and scores
Calum Murray blew his whistle for half time and Queens went in at the break knowing that they lead 3-1 on aggregate with 45 minutes to play.
Falkirk`s intentions were clear in the second half as they had earned a corner within 45 seconds of the restart but the Bairns couldn`t test Zander Clark. The Queens` keeper was called in to action five minutes later as Alston fired the ball towards the bottom corner but Clark was equal to it.
The 21-year-old stopper could do nothing about Rory Loy`s equaliser, which came on 53 minutes. Flynn rounded Dowie and cut the ball back to the Dumfries-born striker who calmly slotted home and reduced the deficit to 3-2 on aggregate.
Falkirk continued to push Queens in search of the game`s third goal and half chances fell to Millar and McGrandles but with twenty minutes to go Queens still lead the Bairns on aggregate.
All of that changed on 70 minutes, however, as Craig Sibbald headed home off the post. As Andy Dowie lay on the edge of the box injured, Falkirk played around the defender and Sibbald met the end of a cross and found the back of the net.
Zander barged into and Dowie down injured but play raged on and Falkirk scored their controversial second
Queens went down the other end after the game restarted and hit the post, only for it to bounce back in to play. Danny Carmichael, who played superbly for the Doonhamers, swung the ball in from a free-kick and it evaded all of the players in the box and rattled the woodwork. The ball then fell to Mark Kerr but the midfielder could only blast his shot in to the chest of McGovern.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and McHugh and Carmichael were linking up wonderfully, each supplying chances for each other but neither could find the target. Derek Young also volleyed wide with the last attack of the game but failure to hit the target was the story for both sides in the closing stages as the game finished 2-1, ensuring extra time.
Man of the Match Danny Carmichael shapes a shot but it goes just over
The extra thirty minutes of football sparked in to life after 10 minutes as Rory Loy should have been Falkirk`s match-winner as he was one-on-one with Clark but the 21-year-old stopper made a miraculous dive and denied the Bairns striker a sure-fire goal. Carmichael went down the other end and tried an audacious chip but it never troubled McGovern.
The second period started much the same as the first ended, with Queens on top. Russell and McShane tried to keep up the onslaught and find that elusive second goal. But it was arguably the hosts who should`ve bagged the next goal with ten minutes to go as a combination of Loy, Shepherd and Sibbald all tried to knock the ball home but it was blocked by Mark Durnan.
Sibbald and McGrandles forced great saves out of Clark in the second period but the heartbreak came for Queens with three minutes to go in the game.
Substitute Scott Shepherd ran in to the box and drilled the ball in to the near post where Blair Alston was waiting to tap in. The timing of the goal meant that Queens didn`t have a chance to claw back in to the game and force a penalty shoot-out.
Alston slides the ball past Clark for the third
Albeit a disappointing way to end the season, Queens fought hard and, for a team in their first season back in the second tier, a squad who had to adjust to a new manager, the season can be deemed a success.
Falkirk will now face Hamilton with the winner playing Premiership strugglers Hibs who may join Edinburgh rivals Hearts in next season`s Championship.
With two Edinburgh giants potentially in the league, as well as Rangers, next season is set to be a blockbuster, and we can`t wait for it to start.
Iain Russell dissapointed at the end
Captain Higgins at the end
A last goodbye from Zander?
A family affair as Derek Young goes to console his son at the end