Danny Carmichael`s first goal of the season was enough to secure all three points for Queens as they recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over 3rd placed Brechin City in this afternoon`s clash at Palmerston.
Having suffered their first league defeat of the season at Alloa on Tuesday, Queens went into the game determined to return to winning ways and to consolidate their lead at the top of the 2nd division. Manager Allan Johnston made two changes to the team that started at Alloa, as Derek Young replaced the injured Paul Burns in midfield, and Derek Lyle returned to the attack with Gavin Reilly dropping to the bench. Visitors Brechin included the division`s top scorer, Andy Jackson in their line-up as the inform Angus side looked to continue their recent unbeaten run.
The opening exchanges were pretty even with Queens winning an early free-kick on the right that was wasted after a poor delivery from the set-piece, and minutes later the visitors produced a carbon copy when they too wasted a good chance from an almost identical position. Queens best spell of the opening period came when Carmichael intercepted the ball just outside his own penalty area, and after going on a driving run in which he eased passed two defenders, he was not quite able to get his pass away to Clark, and defender Moyes was on hand to block the ball away to safety. From that clearance, Brechin created a half chance when Byrne had the chance to shoot, but his effort from 16- yards out was always rising. After 11 minutes Queens won their first corner of the game, but unfortunately Willie Gibson`s delivery went past everyone and sailed harmlessly out for a goal-kick. However, moments later from another Gibson corner, Derek Lyle powered a header goalwards, but `keeper Andrews held on to make a comfortable save.
Danny had a productive time down the right in the first half
The hosts were begining to find some rhythm, and a neat passing move involving Gibson, McKenna, and Young led to Gibson teeing up a half volley for himself and his shot from 20-yards produced a smart save from Andrews. Brechin were keen on using the quick long ball, and Mark Durnan showed good composure to react well in preventing Jackson from breaking through on goal. Two minutes later Queens had their best chance to take the lead. A superb 40 yard pass from Gibson carved through the Brechin defence and sent Carmichael through on goal, but Andrews produced a brilliant stop to keep the winger`s shot out. The winger may have thought that was his best chance to open his scoring account for the season, but just 90 seconds later he got his name on the scoresheet. Derek Lyle`s flicked header was collected by Clark, and the Queens striker made good progress down the right before picking out a precise pass that allowed Carmichael the chance to place a shot just inside the near post to give Queens the advantage.
Danny sends the ball into the net
The next incident of note saw the first booking of the game, when Brechin`s Molloy was cautioned. After committing 3 fouls ,one after another in the space of just 30 seconds, the midfielder reacted to being pulled up for his third foul, and was booked for dissent after kicking the ball away. The Brechin side were clearly disappointed at going behind, and several of their players thought they should have had a free-kick during the build up to the goal, and boosted by their sense of injustice, they may well have equalised after 35 minutes. Good build up play down the right saw a chance fall to Stewart, but Lee Robinson was able to preserve the lead for Queens by saving well, grabbing the ball at the second attempt. A quick break involving Carmichael and Clark ended with a header at the back post from Lyle being only just off target, and just before the interval, a fine effort from Gibson was deflected wide for a corner that the Brechin defence defended well as the half ended with Queens having marginally the better of the game.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 BRECHIN CITY
At the start of the 2nd period, Brechin sent on David McKenna in place of the previously booked Molloy, and the substitute forced Robinson into making the save of the game early in the half as the Queens `keeper dived to push away McKenna`s goalbound effort. In what was a decent opening to the half for the visitors, they went close again following a free-kick, Byrne`s shot not missing by too much. There then followed a quick succession of yellow cards for Queens as the game, although never dirty, did become a bit scrappy and niggly for a short time. Firstly, Willie Gibson was very late with a challenge on Trouten by the touchline, and to the credit of the Brechin player, he made no fuss about it, then Trouten was again involved as Young was cautioned for fouling him, and finally skipper Chris Higgins was next into the book for a mis-timed challenge on McKenna as the Brechin man looked to break clear.
Nicky had to contend with three markers
The home fans in the crowd of 1419 thought that Queens had doubled their lead on 74 minutes when Gibson`s shot was parried into the path of Nicky Clark, but just as the striker pushed the ball into the empty net, up went the far side linesman`s flag for a clear offside decision. Allan Johnston made his first change after 78 minutes when Gavin Reilly replaced Derek Lyle, and shortly afterwards, Queens forced 2 corners in quick succession, but on both occasions, Brechin were able to clear their lines under little pressure. Queens made a further change with 8 minutes left when Kevin Holt was introduced in place of Stephen McKenna, with Chris Mitchell moving into midfield.
The absence of McKenna in midfield almost proved costly for Queens as twice in the last quarter of the game, the visitors created really decent chances to get themselves something from the game, and both times their breaks began from the midfield area. Firstly, a header from Trouten from inside the 6-yard box should have tested Robinson, and then substitute Dalziel fired just over with the goal at his mercy. In between those attacks, Queens created a chance of their own when Gibson`s shot fell to Carmichael and the winger was only inches wide of adding a second goal as his curled attempt from the edge of the box just skipped past the far post. The final action saw Carmichael display even more trickery as he went past three defenders tight on the bye-line before finally running out of space and into the `keeper.
So Queens returned to winning ways in a game that probably won`t stay in the memory for to long, but the result was the most important thing about today`s game, and the fact that 2nd placed Alloa lost and the gap at the top of the table is once more 9 points was an added bonus. The sponsors gave man-of-the-match to defender Mark Durnan, as Queens recorded a 12th league win, and kept their 10th clean sheet from 15 league games.