A midweek trip to Dundee would probably be one of the last choices we`d make in an attempt to pick up more points in the fight for survival and throw in it that failure for Dundee would hand the title to the non playing Ross County makes tonights trip even less appealing.However on Saturday Queens twice came from behind to snatch a point so and unbeaten in the last two meant we at least traveled up in decent enough form.
Dens Park has a bit of a reputation for less than friendly policing and stewarding amongst our fans but even so the early arriving Queens fans are a little shocked to see a bus load of soldiers unloading a couple of field guns outside the away turnstyles - seems the no standing or enjoying yourself edict is going to be strictly applied today. Thankfully its only the pre match/half time entertainment arriving and inside the ground its a far more relaxed attitude it is though very wet as the game kicks off in a down pour that lasts most of the first half.
Queens make 2 changes to the team that has gone the last two unbeaten with the return of Alan Reid and Nicky Clark in place of Kevin Holt and Stephen McKenna. The changes saw Queens also revert to a traditional 4-4-2 tonight against opponents who themselves had a few injuries in defence and featured ex Queens man Ryan Conroy out wide.
Saturday saw a poor first half showing from a Queens side who rarely ventured forward whereas today its a much more positive early showing as Queens look to take the game to Dundee at every opportunity. Involved in much of this early action is Nicky Clark, though he rarely has much luck in gathering or converting his chances but at least he gets into the position. He fails to reach an early Parkin flick on and then neatly flicks a Carmichael pass over the oncoming defender but then rather runs into him rather than around him and doesn`t get the appealed for free kick. Approaching the quarter of an hour mark though he is taken down and wins Queens a free kick in a good position about 25 yards out but McLaughlins curling effort is placed well over the bar.
Dundee have rarely threatened so far but they do make a first chance as McIntosh runs onto a pass but sees his shot blocked. The same man is quick to seize on a slip by Potter and fire in a shot from near the by-line that Robinson pushes away for a corner. The corner is quickly cleared and Carmichael finds himself outpacing the Dee`s defence and is now bearing down alone on Rab Douglas, from inside the area Danny elects to curl it low round the big keeper and it takes a fine diving touch from the ex-Scotland man to push away and keep the game level. Good save but from our point of view a huge chance goes abegging.
Douglas saves from Carmichael - Photo courtesty of David Young
We almost pay a dear price immediately as first McClusky beats Alan Reid to the ball and is off before being hauled back by the full back to collect one for the team and a yellow card. The free kick is still in a dangerous position and Robinson has to be very alert to get down low at his near post to push away Conroys set piece.
With half an hour gone Queens are forced into an early change as Craig Reid takes a late one in the midfield that goes unpunished but the defender is clearly struggling from it and when ref Beaton does stop the game its soon evident that Craigs game is over for the night with Ryan McGuffie coming on in his place. From the restart Carmichael is denied by a defensive clearance before McLaughlin wins it back and finds Parkin who sends it to Clark. Clark is blocked in the box but the penalty appeals are ignored by the ref, a few Queens fans will cast their minds back a couple of seasons ago to a very soft penalty awarded to Dundee that night that also Queens go down to ten men and think this looked every bit as good a claim.
The nearest either side come to scoring before the break is when Dee`s full back Irvine strides forward and cuts inside before shooting wildly from 30 yards out. The half ends with a second card for Queens as Simmons sees yellow for kicking the ball away at a free kick, this seems unnecessarily harsh as he barely kicked it 5 yards and even more uncharitably if the ref had seen some of his passing in other games it was pretty decent in comparison. The half ends goalless and its been a battling if unspectacular performance from Queens so far and theres every reason to think that if we can get a break we can win this one.
Half Time Dundee 0 Queen of the South 0
Queens start the second half with no further changes and news that Raith are behind in the other game crucial to our survival hopes. This seems to give us a fresh impetus as we go on the attack from the start.A first minute corner falls at the feet of Higgins but he fresh airs his shot and Dundee escape,A Reid cross is well headed clear before McGuffie is sharp to cut out a Dundee pass. At the other end McGuffie forces a corner that Johnston sends in but its a fraction too high for Parkin to get a good head to as it slides off him and away.
McGuffie is now becoming quite effective down the wing linking with the wide man to effect as he finds Clark who jinks past his man at the corner flag to cross low to Parkin to lay it off to McLaughlin who hits a shot that is deflected wide as Queens are playing some of their better football for a long while now.
Its therefore a real kick in the pants to go a goal down down and to a fortunate goal too. Dundee move forward and the ball breaks to Stephen O`Donnell who smashes in a shot from 30 yards that takes a big deflection up and over the diving Robinson and in off the underside of the bar. The shot was going some and may well have beaten Robinson but the deflection certainly gave Lee no chance and its just the sort of goal a team in our league position always seem to lose.
A few weeks ago that would have been game over but Saturday we showed more fight and tonight again we fight back. Higgins sees a header deflected wide before an excellent Simmons pass puts Carmichael away, he finds Johnston in the box but his cross/shot is smothered by Douglas as Queens waste a decent looking chance. With an hour gone Kevin Smith comes on for McLaughlin with Clark dropping back into midfield to allow the returning striker to go up front. As with Saturday his appearance gave Queens a fresh spark upfront.Hes straight into action as he harries his man on the edge of the box and wins it back only to be hauled down at the expense of a yellow to the defender. It gives Queens a free kick in a dangerous postilion and with all the big men up for it its hugely disappointing to see Clark send it whistling over everyones heads.
Smith puts in a low shot that is easy for Douglas to hold before John Potter takes a sore one in a clash of heads. With a fairly long stoppage now its a pretty groggy looking Potter who continues and hes back in time to see Robinson produce a fine diving save to turn away a 35 yard effort from McBride. The corner is cleared but Potter is still struggling and goes down in the box to allow the ref to stop the game and Queens make a second enforced change. Its McKenna on now with Simmons dropping back into the defence - the announcer tells us that Higgins is off and not Potter and thats enough to confuse the press and so why Potters name would feature in many reports later on.
As Queens readjust to the new defensive partnership a ball over the top sees Simmons slip and Higgins fail to cover as McIntosh shoots wide past a diving Robinson. Smith and Parkin exchange passes before Douglas gets out to clear the ball and from this Queens gain a free kick, Clark sends it in and with Douglas flapping a bit Parkin is waiting to head it in should the defender miss it he doesn`t but he can only find Carmichael with the headed clearance. Danny sends it back in and again Douglas flaps at the cross and Chris Higgins is on hand to head the ball into the net and get Queens on level terms.
Queens players celebrate Higgins goal - Photo courtesy of David Young
10 minutes to go and the game is there for the taking now. Clark finds Higgins again from a corner but Higgins shot goes wide this time. Queens deal with a Dundee free kick though Reid clearly takes the ball out before finding touch but a charitable linesman fails to spot it and gives only the throw from this McGuffie breaks and finds Smith on the wing his cross finds an offside Parkin.
Dundee`s Irvine is the final man in the note book for a daft barge on Reid before a ball over Reid sees a back post cross met by Riley that sees Robinson make a good save though ref Beaton awards a foul in the box for an earlier push. The free kick allows Smith to set up Clark but his shot is over the bar before Fotheringham curls a shot wide of Robinsons goal.
With the game into injury time now Smith gets into the box and sends it over and Parkin appears to go down under a challenge, difficult to judge from the away end but plenty of appeals from the players though probably in hope rather than expectation. Its a corner only and from it Parkin heads over as the game finishes all square
Full Time Dundee 1 Queen of the South 1
A much better showing today with the defence looking solid and midfield more of a presence and problems caused by the front men. Coming back from going behind again also showed the sort of fight that is going to be required in the last 4 games of the season if we are to escape our current position. The loss of Reid and Potter with injuries may be a real downside of today though.
Raiths loss at home to Livingston further boosts our prospects and we now await Ross County returning our favour of winning them the title tonight by giving Ayr a beating tomorrow. Even if that comes to pass we still have to produce our own results to complete the relegation escape and that continues with a home game against Falkirk on Saturday, a team who have a bit of an indian sign over us at Palmerston of late. so continued improvement will be required.
Thanks to David Young for the pictures. See more from the game here