Queens all but guaranteed themselves a place in the end of season play-offs as their 2-0 victory over Livingston kept them three points ahead of rivals Dumbarton,and even though `The Sons` enjoyed a superb victory over Hamilton, and with just one game to go, it would need a big turnaround for Dumbarton to claim fourth place ahead of Queens.
A goal in each half was enough to give Queens their 16th league win of the season in a game that will certainly not go down as a classic, with the home side looking very comfortable, and the visitors seemingly already looking towards their end of season break. Before kick-off there were a number of end-of-season awards made to the players on behalf of several supporters organisations, with Mark Durnan sweeping the board, although Kevin Holt did take one to prevent it from being a complete clean sweep. Following last Saturday`s victory over Dumbarton, the Queens line-up was unchanged as they opted for a 4-3-1-2 formation with Michael Paton playing behind strikers Lyle and Russell.
Livingston, who were on a run of 4 games without a win, were without influential defender, Simon Mensing, and had yet to record a win over Queens this season, began the match well and backed by a small but very vociferous band of supporters they had the first half chance of the game, but Mullan`s tame shot went wide.of the target. The home side were awarded a free kick on seven minutes after Russell was pulled back, and after Paton`s delivery was partially cleared, Kevin Holt`s header back into the mix was flicked goalwards by Mark Durnan only for defender Fordyce to clear his effort off the line. The visitors replied with a swift counter attack launched by their `keeper as his long kick sent McNulty racing clear of the Queens defence, and after cutting inside past Chris Mitchell, he was denied a shooting chance by a good block challenge on him by the recovering Kevin Holt.
Queens gradually began to assume control of the game, and a long ball down the right from Mitchell found Russell in the clear and his pass found Lyle in space, and he in turn flighted a cross to the far post where the unmarked Paton failed to make a good enough contact with the ball and the chance had gone. Mitchell and Paul Burns combined well to set up a shooting chance for Lyle, but from a tight angle, the striker blasted the ball well over the crossbar. Possibly the best chance of the opening period fell to Livingston when a cross from the right was met by the head of Propatnik, but Zander Clark was well positioned and parried the ball to safety. The first corner for the visitors arrived midway through the half, and after the ball was cleared to the edge of the box, Mullan drove a weak effort past the near upright. A clash of heads in the middle of the park saw Andy Dowie having to leave the field for some attention, but thankfully, during his few minutes absence the visitors did not threaten the Queens goal.
Just three minutes later, Queens made the breakthrough and it was all down to the tenacity of Ian McShane. The young midfielder chased and pressurised Beaumont, and after gaining possession, he raced through the middle of the visiting back line and fired in a right-foot drive that nestled in the bottom left corner. Michael Paton had appeared to pull up injured just before the goal, and before the game re-started he was indeed replaced by Bob McHugh on 26 minutes. The substitute was soon in the action when following a cross from Mark Kerr, the ball fell into his path, but under pressure from two defenders he was unable to keep his shot down and his attempt sailed over the bar. With Queens in control of the game at this point, it seemed as though there were more goals in the game for them, and a tantalising cross from the right by Lyle almost picked out Russell, but `keeper Jamieson claimed the ball just ahead of the Queens striker.
McShane muscles past Jacobs and homes in on goal
McShane completes his solo goal by placing the ball past Jamieson and into the corner of the net
Del helps McShane celebrate his fine effort
The pace of the game petered out as the half moved towards it`s conclusion, and after a few minutes of injury time had been played referee Robertson called an end to the first 45 minutes as Queens reached the break a goal to the good.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 LIVINGSTON
The second period began as the first half ended-very low key, and the first meaningful piece of action saw Jamieson`s clearance cannon back off of Iain Russell only for the ball to bounce wide of the open goal. Russell was soon involved in the action again and after managing to keep himself onside his pace saw him latch on to a super ball from Lyle, but from an extremely difficult angle he drove a fierce shot into the side netting. Livingston responded with an attack of their own and a shot from Keaghan Jacobs was easily saved by Clark, before an effort by Paul Burns was comfortably held by Jamieson at the other end.
Nine minutes into the half, Queens doubled their advantage when Burns found Iain Russell in space inside the penalty area and the striker showed good composure after turning well to net from 8-yards out. Surprisingly enough that was the first league goal that the former Livingston striker had scored at Palmerston since he netted against Dumbarton back in September. Chris Mitchell became the first and only player to be cautioned booking when he was penalised for a foul on Jacobs, with Queens defending the resulting free-kick comfortably.
Russell celebrates the second goal
The visitors claimed their first corner of the half on the hour mark, and once again it posed no difficulties for the Queens defence and was easily dealt with. The home side made their second change of the afternoon when Derek Young replaced Derek Lyle, and Bob McHugh moved to join Russell up front. The game fell into somewhat of a lull, as Queens continued to be largely untroubled by a fairly ordinary looking Livingston side, and the visitors seemed content to pass the ball around their back line before looking for the long ball route, the result of which meant very little in the way of meaningful action for the crowd of 1923.
Queens final change of the game saw Lewis Kidd replace first goalscorer, Ian McShane with 15 minutes left, and moments later Iain Russell almost produced a late contender for goal of the season when his audacious effort from fully 40-yards out on the right nearly embarrassed ` keeper Jamieson, the `Livvy` shot stopper being thankful that his attempt went just a few yards wide. As the match moved into the final 10 minutes Queens went close to adding a third goal when Mitchell`s deep corner to the back post was met by Kevin Holt`s head, but the full-back was unable to repeat last weekend`s scoring feat, as his glancing header flew past the post. The visitors then created what was only their second decent chance of the half, but once again their finishing was poor, and Mullan`s effort, like his previous attempt, went wide of the target.
The final chance of the game fell to Queens when McHugh and Russell exchanged passes down the left wing, and this allowed Russell to get to the bye-line and pull the ball back, but unfortunately the ball went behind the onrushing Queens attackers. However, poor defending by Livingston allowed Burns to win the ball back and his cross picked out Russell unmarked at the far post, but Queens` leading scorer mis-hit his shot and his attempt trundled through to the `keeper. The final whistle sounded moments later to end the `regular` home season for Queens, and although it is still not a certainty, it looks remarkably like the Queens supporters will see at least one more game this season.
Sponsors gave their man of the match award to Ian McShane, and the young midfielder can certainly be pleased with his afternoon`s work, as can the Queens defence who kept back-to-back clean sheets in the league for the first time this season. The `regular` season ends at Cowdenbeath next Saturday, but hopefully for Queens and their supporters, the season continues for a few more games yet.
A thumbs up from the management team at the end of the game