Cowdenbeath were in the giving mood following the festive period as defensive errors gave Queen of the South both goals in a 2-0 victory at Central Park.
The weather conditions proved incredibly difficult as the wind, rain and boggy pitch meant that fluid, flowing football was almost impossible but it was Queens who adapted the better and just about deserved their win in what was a game of few chances.
And indeed the opening goal came from a goalkeeper howler as Grant Adam spilled Iain Russell`s shot allowing Paul Burns to net his first of the season from inside the six-yard box on 45 minutes. Another defensive error, this time from John Armstrong, saw Derek Lyle set up Iain Russell for an easy finish after 64 minutes.
Cowdenbeath had enjoyed something of a resurgence over the past few weeks following Jimmy Nicholl`s appointment with a draw against Raith Rovers and a win at Dundee in their previous two games. And the upturn in confidence could be seen as The Blue Brazil started the match very much on the front foot as they played with the wind at their backs.
An early injury to striker Greg Stewart did not seem to affect the home side too much and the early pressure was capped with a well-struck Kane Hemmings effort that Zander Clark did well to push wide. Hemmings had another effort on fifteen minutes that flew just wide of the Queens goal.
After the early periods dominated by Cowdenbeath, Queens began to grow into the game and began to pass the ball confidently in the middle of the park despite the less-than-perfect conditions. Firstly Michael Paton looked to be through on goal after 18 minutes with Adam rushing out of his area but the former-Aberdeen forward mis-cued his attempted lob and the chance was gone.
The next opportunity fell to Derek Lyle as a Chris Mitchell corner from the left was flicked on by Andy Dowie but Lyle could not get over the header and the ball flew high onto the top of the net.
After a number of corners Queens took the lead moments before half-time. Iain Russell had struggled to get himself into the game but exploded into life as he turned Thomas O`Brien inside out on the left side of the area before firing a low shot toward goal. The shot flew straight at Grant Adam for what seemed a simple save but the `keeper spilled the ball and Paul Burns` work to follow up was rewarded as he scored from close range.
Russell strikes the effort that keeper Adam fumbled
Burns gets to the ball before Adam and opens the scoring
The weather conditions worsened as the second half began with rain adding to the strong wind making the pitch even heavier and the impact of the conditions translated to a distinct lack of goalmouth chances for much of the half.
Stephen McKenna had a pop from range after 57 minutes which flew high and wide before the three points were assured six minutes later. Iain Russell picked John Armstrong`s pocket giving Derek Lyle a free run on goal and as Adam rushed out to meet him he rolled the ball inside for Russell to pass the ball into the empty net. It was very unselfish from Lyle as he would have been entitled to try and beat the `keeper himself.
Lyle squares for the incoming Russell to slot home the clincher
Lyle, Russell and Paton celebrate the second goal
The home side battled to try and force themselves back into the contest but the Queens defence was resolute as they were happy to hold what they had. Cowdenbeath did almost halve the deficit with six minutes left as the ball dropped to Lewis Milne inside the area but Zander Clark was equal to the effort with a strong save, low to his right before Stephen McKenna blocked Kenny Adamson`s follow-up.
Queens held out, restricting Cowdenbeath to very few chances and took full advantage of the generosity of the home defenders to secure an important win that pushed the Doonhamers closer to the playoff positions and further from the drop zone.