Queens opened their Championship campaign in fine style this afternoon, as a superb second- half performance gave them a richly deserved win over title favourites Dundee in a seven goal thriller at Palmerston. After going behind early on, Queens drew level just before half-time, and then an electrifying 11 minute spell after the break saw them surge ahead of their visitors, before the title favourites scored twice in the final 9 minutes to set up a nervy ending.
Following on from last weekend`s victory over Annan, Queens boss, Jim McIntyre, named the same starting eleven, although Paul Burns, and Ryan McGuffie swapped positions, with the holding role going to McGuffie as the manager kept faith with his 4-1-2-3 formation. With the new rules coming into force regarding substitutes, Queens had all of their squad available for selection, with the exception of Derek Young who remained sidelined through injury. Visitors Dundee, included Ryan Conroy, who enjoyed a good spell whilst on loan at Queens, and the vastly experienced Gavin Rae at the heart of their midfield as they lined up in a 3-5-2 formation as they looked to get their season off to a winning start.
The Championship flag was unfurled before the game
The large travelling support helped to produce a terrific atmosphere for the occasion, and shortly before kick-off, the flag to commemorate Queens success of last season was unfurled. The game began with Dundee on the front foot, and in fact they created a half chance almost instantly when McAlister had an effort that was blocked away. At the other end of the pitch, fine work from Iain Russell down the left saw Queens win their first corner of the game, and as per usual, Chris Mitchell supplied a dangerous cross into the box. Stephen McKenna knocked the ball into the path of Ryan McGuffie, but under strong pressure he hooked his effort wide from close range. Moments later, Queens might have gone in front. A long kick from Calum Antell was flicked on by McKenna into the path of Michael Paton, and his precise cross was met by a good header from Derek Lyle, and although his effort was on target, it was also straight at Dundee `keeper Kyle Letheren.
Having failed to make the most of that opportunity, Queens were punished straight away as the visitors broke away and opened the scoring on 7 minutes. A free kick from Benedictus was played into the path of Conti who in turn found MacDonald, and the striker produced a fine low curling drive that just shaved the inside of the far post as it crept past Antell`s outstretched hand. It was a well crafted, and well finished goal, and it gave the visitors just the start that they wanted. After falling behind so early on, Queens could have been forgiven for allowing their heads to drop a little, but thankfully the setback did not really affect them, and they continued to play their part in what was a bright and entertaining start to the game, and two shots in quick succession, one from Paton, and then one from McKenna, although not on target, demonstrated that Queens were clearly up for the challenge.
MacDonald fires the ball past Antell to open the scoring for Dundee
The Dundee fans celebrate the goal
On 24 minutes, Queens went very close to getting back on level terms. A neat turn and run by the impressive Russell down the left flank gained the hosts another corner, and again the set-piece caused all sorts of confusion in the Dundee penalty area. Mitchell`s delivery was headed towards goal by McGuffie, but a combination of defender and `keeper smuggled the ball to safety and protected the away side`s lead. Just short of the half an hour mark, Russell spurned the chance to level the game, blasting his effort way over the bar when well placed some 16 yards from goal. Although the game was flowing from end to end, it was Queens who were creating the better of the scoring opportunities, although Dundee did have the chance to double their advantage from a corner which was missed by everybody in the box including Declan Gallagher, who went to ground claiming that he was the victim of a push. The away support had singled out Derek Lyle as being the villain of the piece, and at every opportunity, they were quick to give him as much abuse as they could. The first of 4 yellow cards for the visitors was shown to Gallagher for a trip on Russell after 37 minutes, with the resulting free-kick from Mitchell, this time a direct shot at goal, being comfortably held head high by the `keeper. As the game went through a bit of a scrappy stage with both sides tending to give the ball away fairly cheaply, for the first time in the opening 40 minutes or so, the pace of the game dropped.
The Queens fans in the main stand thought that their team had levelled the game three minutes before the break as once again a Mitchell set-play caused problems for the Dundee defence, as his whipped cross was flicked on by Burns to the back post where Russell was only able to find the side netting with his header. However, the equaliser, that on the balance of play Queens deserved, arrived just seconds later. The industry of Russell was rewarded with a free- kick yards in from the left touchline, and Mitchell picked out a superb cross that allowed Derek Lyle to escape free of his marker giving him just enough space to head the ball past the helpless Letheren. So an eventful half came to an end with the scores level, and although Queens fell behind early on, they battled back really well, and were certainly worthy of being on equal terms at the break.
Lyle stoops to head in the equaliser just before the break
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-1 DUNDEE
The teams emerged unchanged for the start of the second period, and as Queens got the re-start under way, it was clear from the opening minutes that there was more of a sharpness to their play, as well as a quickening of the tempo. Lyle and Holt exchanged passes on the left with the full-back`s cross being panicked away by an under pressure defence. The home side were slowly gaining control of the game, and a flowing move that saw McKenna and Burns link-up to create a heading chance for Lyle almost saw Queens take the lead. For the first time in the half, Dundee almost worked themselves an opening, but Rae was just unable to get the ball under his control, and Holt was able to clear.
The pace and trickery of Iain Russell had been a constant threat for Dundee, and after 57 minutes Benedictus was cautioned for a foul on the Queens front man. The set play from Mitchell was cleared out as far as Paton on the right and his cross was blocked away for a corner that eventually led to Queens going in front for the first time in the game. As Mitchell`s delivery appeared to be going beyond everyone, referee Colvin penalised Davidson for a shirt pull at the near post, awarding Queens a spot-kick. After a few seconds delay whilst Davidson was booked, Ryan McGuffie stepped up to coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner. Having turned the game around, it got even better for Queens just 2 minutes later when they increased their lead with a `route one` type goal. A long clearance from Antell was flicked on by Burns into the path of Iain Russell, and after one bounce, the former Livingston man, smashed his drive into the corner of the net to open his goalscoring account for his home town club.
McGuffie slams home the penalty
Iain Russell extends the lead
Queens were really in control at that point, and they went close to scoring again when Russell found Burns 25 yards out, the midfielder trying to lob the`keeper and only narrowly missing out on the goal that his 2nd half performance merited. Incredibly, Queens scored again after 70 minutes, once more making it 3 goals in an 11 minute spell !! The ball fell kindly for Russell in central midfield, and he was able to find Michael Paton breaking free on the right. The former Aberdeen striker cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable drive that flew across the `keeper and nestled in the bottom corner. For the home support in the crowd of 2644 it had been a terrific spell, but for some of the visiting fans from Tayside, the fourth goal was enough, and many of them decided to leave. With cries of Ole` echoing around Palmerston, Paton again went close, whilst only a splendid save from Letheren prevented Lyle from scoring a fifth for Queens, and when after 80 minutes Gallagher headed home from a corner, a comeback from the title favourites still seemed a long way off. With just 3 minutes left, Gavin Reilly, and Dan Carmichael replaced Derek Lyle, and Michael Paton, but with time almost up, the jitters began to creep in when the away side scored again. After gaining a corner on the left, Dundee packed the six yard area and when Antell was unable to deal with the cross, Davidson who had certainly had an eventful afternoon, was on hand to prod the ball in from close range. Whether or not the Queens`keeper was fouled, under severe pressure he struggled to handle the cross and the goal was given. Late on Paul Burns was booked for a foul in midfield, and after being well in control at 4-1 in front, Queens were now having to `hang on`, and although the officials somehow conjured up more than 6 minutes of additional time, fortunately Queens played out the remainder of the match without any major problems to record what was an exceptional victory.
Davidson challenges Antell at the third Dundee goal
The sponsors gave their man-of-the-match award to Iain Russell, and it was great to see him to score his first goal for the club. The win also extended the unbeaten league run to 19 games, which I believe is a new club record (apologies if this is wrong) and continues Jim McIntyre`s unbeaten start to his spell as Queens boss.