Queens failed to build on last weekend`s league victory at Morton as they slumped to a second consecutive home league defeat of the season as visitors Dumbarton scored a late winner to take all three points. After falling behind early on, Queens rallied and drew level during what was a fairly even 1st half, but they succumbed to Fleming`s late strike which leaves them having taken just 4 points from their opening 4 home league games.
Following the battling, but ultimately unrewarding performance at Tynecastle in midweek, Queens boss, Jim McIntyre, named the same team that began in Edinburgh, with fit again Stephen McKenna finding a place on the bench, and there was also a first home start for American, Kevin Dzierzawski, who slotted into midfield alongside Derek Young, and Ian McShane ,as Queens went with a 4-3-3 formation.Visitors Dumbarton started the day a point , and two places behind Queens in 7th position as they made their first trip to Palmerston on league business for the first time since February 1997. They included former Queens players Kevin Smith, and `keeper Stephen Grindlay, both of whom started on the bench .
Queens began the game brightly and the midfield trio of Young, McShane, and Dzierzawski were at the heart of all of Queens early attacking moves, especially Dzierzawski. On several occasions he was able to produce some fabulous cross field balls to either full-back, as Queens tried to get in behind the visitors defence. It was clear that the Dumbarton tactic was to sit deep and try and catch Queens on the counter attack, and after 4 minutes some neat and inventive approach play created a shooting chance for full-back, McGinn, but his shot from 20-yards was hurried and flew well over the crossbar. Moments later, Queens put themselves under pressure when a loose pass from Chris Higgins was too short for Young to collect, and in trying to retrieve the ball, Young`s rather heavy challenge on Murray led to the on loan Partick man having to be substituted with just 9 minutes gone. The resulting free-kick led to the visitors winning their first corner of the match, but Queens were able to defend the set-piece comfortably.
At the other end, it was Queens` turn to win their first corner, and Ian McShane`s inswinging delivery caused problems for Dumbarton `keeper Ewings who had to tip the ball onto and over the bar for another corner. This time, McShane`s cross was cleared out to Michael Paton just inside the penalty box, and the striker forced Ewings into making a comfortable save. As the game switched from end to end, Dumbarton had a half chance from a free-kick, but Graham `s header was well off target. Queens almost gifted the visitors a goal following a mix up from a throw-in by Ryan McGuffie midway inside their own half. The ball was thrown in between both Young and Dowie and was not close enough to either which allowed Turner to steel the ball away and launch an attack. In an effort to collect the ball, Dowie was a little late on Turner and although the referee waved play on, fortunately for Queens Dumbarton were not able to benefit from the move and the danger was cleared. However, the Queens` centre-back was not so fortunate as the referee reached for his notebook to caution the defender for his rash challenge.
Keeper Ewings palms over
Just 2 minutes later, and Turner was involved in the game once more, this time in a positive way for his team as he smashed home an unstoppable drive from the angle of the penalty area after Queens could only half clear a hopeful cross into the box. The home side were quick to respond, and McGuffie and Paton combined well down the right wing which allowed Paton the chance to deliver a cross into the area, but his final ball was too far beyond Iain Russell at the far post.With 26 minutes gone, Queens best move of the half produced an equalising goal. Ian McShane`s clever pass inside the full-back found the overlapping Ryan McGuffie, and the defender`s cross along the six-yard line was swept home from close range by Iain Russell. After drawing level, Queens began to dominate possession, although their quality in the final third of the field was at times a little too predictable as crosses from both sides of the park failed to cause any significant danger to the visiting defence. On a rare break away, Dumbarton created a half chance when a shot from McGinn was pushed away by Calum Antell, and as Queens played their way out from the back, a move involving McShane and Paton saw the former Aberdeen man deliver a cross to the far post that was only inches away from finding an unmarked Russell. The second caution of the game came after a foul by Russell, and the Queens striker was in the midst of the action minutes later when he connected with a delightful Derek Young cross, but under close attention from Barry, he was unable to direct his header towards goal.
Turner celebrates his goal for the Sons
A minute before the break Queens almost snatched the lead when Young and McShane worked a one-two to set up Lyle, but slightly off balance, the striker put his effort wide. After a fairly even half, in which both teams played well in parts, the sides went into the interval on level terms, and from the overall play, the scoreline at the break was probably just about right.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-1 DUMBARTON
The only significant thing that happened in a rather slow start to the 2nd period was that the ball ended up out of the ground twice in quick succession, and as both teams tried to take the initiative, the game trundled along with neither being able to dominate proceedings. Dumbarton had obviously worked out that Young and especially Dzierzawski, were the main threat to them, and as such their midfield started the half a bit further forward which crowded the central area of the park which meant that space was at a premium. Dumbarton`s Nish was the next player to be cautioned, and from the resultant free-kick a foot or so in from the left touchline, McShane`s cross was hit far too high and presented `keeper Ewings with a simple catch. At the other end, a miscued header in defence allowed Gilhaney to control and shoot, but his effort went well wide of the target.
Michael Paton`s good work down the left eventually led to Queens being awarded a free-kick, when Young was fouled right on the edge of the penalty box, but from a promising position, McShane`s drive from a central position crashed disappointingly against the defensive wall and bounced away to safety. Queens then enjoyed a period of good pressure, and a shot from Dzierzawski was blocked away, then Young`s through ball found McShane breaking into the box, but with the angle against him, the youngster did all he could to get his shot on target, but the `keeper blocked his effort away for a corner, which was easily dealt with by the Dumbarton defence. On the hour, Queens made a double change sending on McKenna, and Reilly, to replace Young and Lyle, and within minutes of his introduction, Reilly had a marvellous chance to put his team ahead. Seizing on a loose ball just inside the Dumbarton half, Reilly easily outpaced the covering defender and as he drove forward with only the `keeper to beat, he shot straight at Ewings, who to his credit, made a decent stop, however, the loose ball spun free to Russell but the striker spurned the chance by placing the ball over the crossbar, and also over the Portland Drive Stand. It was a really good chance for Queens, and on reflection, it was undoubtedly their best chance of the half.
Reilly has a one-on-one blocked
As the game became more stretched, Calum Antell produced a smart save to deny Dumbarton`s goalscorer Turner, and minutes letter the Queens `keeper was grateful when a header from Megginson following a free-kick,went straight into his gloves. Queens were awarded a rather fortunate free-kick when Paton`s drive was judged to have hit a defender`s hand, Paton took the kick himself and his curling right-foot drive didn`t miss the target by much. Queens final change saw Russell replaced by Dan Orsi with 20 minutes to go, but try as they might, Queens were just not able to find a way to unlock the visitors defence. Gone were the probing balls from midfield as Dumbarton defended solidly and broke quickly, and the away side had claims for a penalty as they enjoyed their best spell of the half, but thankfully, referee Clancy waved away their appeals. Minutes later, the visitors won a free-kick just outside the area, but a solid Queens wall rebuffed the attack as the home side launched a quick counter attack of their own, only for the whole move to end in disappointment as a shot from distance by McKenna was far too tame and just rolled through to the Dumbarton `keeper.
Queens kept plugging away and good work between McShane and Holt down the left ended with McShane trying a delicate chip from the bye-line, but his effort was not quite high enough to clear the `keeper, who was able to take the ball comfortably. On the right wing McGuffie and Orsi exchanged passes, but after getting beyond the last defender, the youngster`s cross went straight into the midriff of a well placed Ewings. With the game looking as though it was heading for a draw, disaster struck for Queens as for the second time in the game, the visitors went in front as Fleming guided the ball in from close range after a shot from Prunty had been blocked into his path. There was very little time for Queens to react, but they almost snatched a late leveller. Dan Orsi won a corner on the right, and when the set-piece eventually fell to Paton, the sponsors choice as man of the match, on the edge of the box, the striker reacted quickly enough to get a shot away, but unfortunately it flashed inches wide of the near post much to the disappointment of most in the crowd of 1693.
The ball is forced home for the winner
The final whistle sounded moments later as Queens ended the day with just 8 points from their opening 7 league fixtures, and occupying 7th place in the table., as visitors Dumbarton won a league game at Palmerston for the first time since March 1992. However, such is the tightness of the league at present, Queens may be just three points from the bottom, but they are also only four points away from second place.