Queens extended their unbeaten start to the season to 6 games in today`s clash at Palmerston although they made hard work of beating visitors Albion Rovers,and it took a Derek Lyle goal, and another penalty save from Lee Robinson to ensure that Queens collected all three points against the division`s bottom side.
After the draw with East Fife last weekend, boss Allan Johnston made 2 changes to his starting line-up with Derek Young and Dan Carmichael replacing Dan Orsi and the manager himself, as Queens started in a 4-1-3-2 formation with Stephen McKenna offering extra protection to the back four.
After a fairly subdued opening to the game, it was Queens who had the first real scoring chance after 6 minutes when a neat exchange of passes between Chris Mitchell and Derek Young, led to a corner ,and from Mitchell`s set-piece the ball fell to Dan Carmichael some 8-yards out but under pressure the Queens player blazed his effort high over the bar. The visitors had hardly managed to get into the Queens half in the opening period, but they managed to win a corner courtesy of a sloppy backpass from Stephen McKenna, but the corner was easily dealt with by Lee Robinson who made an assured catch under little pressure.
Queens were having a lot of the ball down the left hand side of the pitch, and Kevin Holt and Dan Carmichael were combining to good effect, and it was those two players who created a half chance for Derek Lyle to try his luck from distance, but `keeper McCluskey was well positioned and held on comfortably. Albion then created what was probably their only chance of the first half, but Gilmartin`s header from a right wing cross sailed harmlessly over the bar from about 12-yards out.
Just short of the 20 minute mark Queens won a succession of corners as they searched for the opening goal, and Nicky Clark produced a powerful header from the last of those quickfire corners,but the ball went the wrong side of the near post as far as Queens were concerned. However,it wasn`t long after that attack that the goal that Queens had threatened to score duly arrived. Excellent work down the right involving Mitchell, Clark and Lyle, allowed Clark to race away down the wing and on reaching the bye-line he played the ball into the path of Derek Lyle who swept the ball home from just inside the 6-yard box, a really well worked, and well executed move by Queens. At that point in the game it looked as though the visitors were on the back foot and Queens would be able to add goals at will, and moments after going in front Ryan McGuffie was inches away from connecting with a deep Mitchell cross at the far post as Queens increased the tempo.
Lyle sweeps it into the net - photo from Sandy Robertson
The returning Carmichael created a chance for himself, cutting in from the left and shooting straight at the `keeper, and with Queens well on top a second goal looked as though it would arrive sooner rather than later. Just 3 minutes before the break it appeared as though Queens task had become a lot easier when Albion were reduced to 10 men after Jamie Gilmartin was shown a straight red card for a cynical challenge on Ryan McGuffie that left the Queens defender requiring treatment off the park before being able to continue.That was the final action of the first half, a half in which Queens eventually gained control without ever outplaying the visitors, and although some decent scoring opportunities were created, the end product was unfortunately missing.
The tackle on McGuffie that saw Gilmartin see a straight red card
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 ALBION ROVERS
There were no changes made by either side at the interval, although 3 minutes into the half Willie Gibson made his first appearance at Palmerston since re-joining Queens as he replaced Ryan McGuffie who was still clearly suffering from the effects of a couple of hefty challenges he took in the opening half. With a man advantage, Queens began the half brightly and should have added a second goal on 53 minutes when from Holt`s cross Mitchell laid the ball into the path of Clark but the striker`s goal bound shot was blocked away by a defender. Moments later at the other end after latching on to a loose ball in midfield, the 10 men of Albion got themselves an excellent chance to get back on level terms when they were awarded a penalty after what appeared to be a rather harsh decision by referee Charleston who had decided that Jason Crooks had been pushed to the ground in the area. After consultation with his assistant, the referee stood by his decision and the spot-kick was given. Crooks himself took the kick, and although it was a decent enough strike, Robinson guessed right and diving full-length to his left pushed the ball to safety to preserve his clean sheet.
Robinson foils Crooks with another penalty save
Although the penalty decision was on the soft side, with only one goal between the teams Queens needed to be wary of any Albion breaks, but to be honest that save was the only one that really tested Robinson, and thankfully he was up to the task.
Most of Queens best attacks were being created down the left hand side of the park, and from another forward run from Holt the home side won yet another corner, and a training ground routine involving Mitchell and Gibson saw an attempted volley from Gibson fly miles over the bar. Kevin Holt was next to try his luck after being put through by Clark, but from a tight angle the youngster`s drive was straight at the `keeper.
Derek Young was replaced by Steven Black, and 4 minutes later Gavin Reilly came on for scorer Derek Lyle as Queens looked to use the pace of youngster Reilly, and within minutes of coming on he got ahead of his marker to fire a shot across goal that was blocked away by the `keeper`s outstretched leg. Queens did eventually get past the 10 men of Albion as Carmichael slipped the ball past McCluskey, but not for the first time in the game, the flag had already been raised for offside. There was one final chance for Queens and that came 2 minutes from full time when Carmichael`s cut back from the left fell nicely for Clark, but the striker`s shot flew inches past the far upright. After more than 5 minutes of stoppage time the final whistle was greeted with a sense of relief for most in the crowd of 1426, as Queens claimed the three points and kept their unbeaten run intact.In a game that will not live long in the memory, a well worked goal, and a splendid penalty save was enough to get the win. Kevin Holt was named as sponsors man-of-the-match, and Queens are now one of only two clubs who have yet to concede a league goal this season. It`s cup football next for Queens, as SPL side Hibs visit Palmerston in the league cup on Tuesday night, and cup football is all about shocks, hopefully I will be writing about one on Tuesday!!!
This week the keeper came out on top as Riley stole in from the left