Queens produced their best performance of the season so far as they defeated SPL side Hibernian in this evening`s Scottish Communities League Cup clash at Palmerston with a display of quality attacking football that at times made their higher league opponents look very mediocre. The win saw Queens stretch their unbeaten start to the season to 7games, and to be honest they were not overly troubled by the visitors from the capital.
Following on from Saturday`s narrow victory, injury to Ryan McGuffie meant that Queens were forced to make a change in defence for the first time this season, with Dan Orsi being recalled to the team, and Chris Mitchell filled in at right back. Boss Allan Johnston, available again after his one game ban, decided against selecting himself for a starting role, and opted instead for a place on the bench. The visitors made several changes to the side that began in Saturday`s 2-0 victory over St.Johnstone at Easter Road, and gave a first start to veteran striker Shefki Kuqi.
The game started with Queens attacking the Terregles Street end of the ground, but it was the noisy contingent of travelling Hibs fans who were first to offer encouragement to their side as a shot from Leigh Griffiths went over the bar just 4 minutes of play. In the early exchanges the SPL team looked composed on the ball, and with Griffiths looking lively, it appeared that the home defence were going to be in for a hard night, however as the game settled it was Queens who grew into the game, and slowly but surely began to dominate the play. The pace on either wing of both Orsi and Dan Carmichael soon started to produce openings for Queens, and it was Orsi`s speed that won the first corner, but sadly Mitchell`s inswinging delivery was too near `keeper Williams who collected the cross under no pressure. As the action switched to the other end, Queens received a mighty let off when Griffiths somehow managed to knock the ball onto and over the bar from about 2 yards out, too be fair to him the ball did arrive quickly, but it really should have been the opening goal for the visitors.
Danny Carmichael ran Kujabi ragged, the Hibs left back being substituted at half time
However, the opening goal was not long in coming and it was Queens who took the lead on 12 minutes. A nice one-two involving Carmichael and Derek Lyle saw Carmichael break away down the right and his pinpoint low cross was met at the near post by Nicky Clark who tapped the ball in to round off a move of top quality.Queens were certainly boosted by the goal, and they began to pass the ball around with purpose and accuracy as the visitors struggled to get involved in the game. In midfield Derek Young and Stephen McKenna were controlling the game, and with Queens attacking at pace the Hibs defence were under constant pressure.
Nicky Clark guides the ball home to open the scoring - photo from Sandy Robertson
Allan Johnston was forced into making an early change after 22 minutes with Gavin Reilly replacing Derek Lyle, and with even more pace added to their frontline, Queens looked even more impressive as they searched for a 2nd goal. After 35 minutes Hibs had a half chance when Kuqi drove a shot straight at Lee Robinson, but it was Queens who had the best chance to score a second goal after Orsi`s neat pass found Clark, but after brilliantly setting up a shooting chance, the striker placed his shot past the `keeper but also wide of the upright. The game was certainly an end to end affair, and Hibs danger man Griffiths squandered a further chance on 40 minutes after finally shrugging off his marker and bearing down on goal, he blasted well over from a good position.
O`Hanlon had no fair answer to Reilly`s torment
If that shot had gone in the game might have had a different outcome, and just 2 minutes later, Queens extended their lead with another well worked and well executed goal. A delightful reverse pass from Mitchell sent Carmichael away down the right and once again the winger delivered an inch perfect cross to the back post where an unmarked Gavin Reilly dived full-length to head the ball in from 4 yards out to send the Queens contingent in the crowd of 2658 into sheer delight. The 2 goal advantage was very well merited and the home side left the field at the break to a much deserved standing ovation after controlling the majority of the first period.
Gavin Reilly heads home the second goal - photo from Sandy Robertson
HALF-TIME QUEENS 2-0 HIBS
At the interval Hibs made two changes with Maybury and Wotherspoon replacing both full-backs, Booth and Kujabi who had both suffered a torrid first 45 minutes, and almost from the kick-off an effort by Griffiths from a free-kick nearly produced a goal, but the alert Robinson was able to react well to push his shot away for a corner. From the resulting set-piece the ball broke to Deegan on the edge of the box but his drive was well wide of the target.
Minutes later Queens went close on a couple of occasions, firstly with a shot from Reilly, and then from a header by Clark as they looked for the 3rd goal which really would have sealed the game. They then created an even better chance after a counter-attack led by McKenna who found Orsi who in turn played in Reilly, but the young striker lacked a bit of composure and his hurried shot was unfortunately way off target. The early threat at the start of the half from Hibs never really built enough to cause Queens too many problems, although briefly following the introduction of Doyle they did look as though that might make a fight of it, as a shot from Cairney was defelected for a corner, and O`Hanlon went close with a header from the resultant set-piece, but really Lee Robinson had a pretty quiet game.
Kevin Holt put in a commanding performance
With 14 minutes to go Willie Gibson replaced first scorer Nicky Clark who had run himself into the ground as Queens left Reilly up front on his own for the final minutes of the game. As the clock ran down Queens played out the last moments by holding onto the ball as best they could, although well into stoppage time Hibs almost got a goal back when a header from Wotherspoon was saved low down by Robinson. The game ended in curious fashion with a clash in the far corner of the pitch, it seemed everyone was waiting for a free-kick to be given, but the referee picked up the ball and began to walk from the pitch which was the signal for the celebrations to start after what was a memorable result for Queens.
Fantastic performance and result for Queens, no need for any one man of the match as after tonight`s display the whole team should be delighted with their effort.