A second half hat-trick inside 11 minutes from striker Derek Lyle was enough to give Queens a derby day victory over local rivals Annan, but the League 2 side proved to be a tough nut for Queens to crack until they eventually made the breakthrough early in the second half.
Following on from last weekend`s Ramsdens cup victory over Spartans, Queens made two changes to the team that began in that game, as Ryan McGuffie, and Iain Russell replaced Derek Young and Dan Carmichael as they once again lined-up in a 4-1-2-3 formation. Visitors Annan, fresh from an excellent victory over Championship side Morton also in the Ramsdens cup, included former Queens favourite, Peter Weatherson at centre-back, and another former Queens man, David Hopkirk, also started for the `Galabankies`.
In the absence of Derek Young, the holding midfield role was given to Paul Burns, who last weekend against Spartans made his 300th appearance for the club, and Ryan McGuffie took Burns` place on the left side of midfield. Queens started on the front foot, and a cross from Stephen McKenna was headed only a foot or so wide by Iain Russell in the opening minutes, and moments later, the former Livingston striker making his first competitive start for Queens, drove a speculative shot goal wards that was deflected for a corner as the home side looked to dominate the early stages of the game. With Queens controlling much of the possession, a long raking pass from Burns was flicked on by Lyle into the path of Michael Paton, but his shot from just outside the edge of the area was miscued and drifted well wide. At the other end Annan created their first half chance of the game when an effort from Sloan was comfortably held by `keeper Calum Antell.
The Annan `Young Team` were in fine voice today
After just 9 minutes, Stephen McKenna was yellow carded after being penalised for a high challenge on Flynn, and as Queens continued to have the upper hand, they created the best chance of the opening period on 12 minutes. A neat exchange of passes between McKenna and Chris Mitchell down the right, allowed the full-back to deliver a perfect cross into the six-yard area where the unmarked Ryan McGuffie seemed to mistime his jump and was unable to keep his header on target. The visitors went close moments later when Hopkirk created a shooting chance for Love, but the winger`s shot lacked direction and caused no problem for Antell. Although Queens were still having most of the possession, much of their passing was taking place in their own half as the visitors were making it hard for the home side to find a breakthrough, and former Queens man, Weatherson, along with centre-back partner Swinglehurst, were keeping Queens at bay. Michael Paton worked an opening for himself, trying his luck from 25-yards, with his fine attempt beating`keeper Mitchell and, unfortunately for Queens the crossbar as well.
Antell launches the ball forward
With 20 minutes played, Queens had a lucky escape when persistent play from McKay almost ended with him being able to force the ball past Antell, but Andy Dowie reacted well to clear the danger, and from that moment in the game, Annan began to grow in confidence. After soaking up much of the early pressure, they started to move the ball around with a bit more purpose and desire, and after winning their first corner of the game, a powerful header from Swinglehurst was well held by Antell. It was a frustrating spell for Queens who just could not find a way past a very well organised Annan defence, and on several occasions as they tried to find a way in behind the visitors defence with more direct long balls, the accuracy of the passing tended to let them down. However, after a 10 minute spell of playing well below their best, Queens slowly began to pick up the pace again, and Paton, Burns and McKenna worked a position for Mitchell to cross, and his fine delivery once again picked out the head of McGuffie who glanced his header just wide of the far upright. That was probably the best chance Queens had created in the first half, but McGuffie was not quite able to cap the good move with his finish. Just before the break, Annan won two corners in quick succession, and from one of them, Weatherson reached the ball first only to guide his header straight at Antell. Although Queens had not been punished up to that point, it was clear that the visitors posed problems at set-pieces, and at the interval, it was the away team and their fans who were more content as the players left the field.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 ANNAN ATHLETIC
Neither side made any changes at the break, and it was the team from Galabank who almost opened the scoring 40 seconds into the half. A break down the left ended with Hopkirk shooting across goal and just as it seemed as though the ball was creeping into the net, Queens `keeper Antell showed tremendous reactions to move quickly to his left and push the ball to safety. The half had started at a fast pace, and with the increased intensity, some of the tackles were becoming a bit more severe, and Annan`s Watson was booked for a lunge on McGuffie on 48 minutes. From the free-kick, Mitchell`s cross was headed out for a corner, and from the resulting set-piece another McGuffie header was cleared away as the home side increased the tempo. Ryan McGuffie was also involved in the next piece of action, when he became the third player to be cautioned after a foul on Chisholm. Then on 54 minutes McGuffie again had a half chance to put Queens in front, but following Paton`s excellent cross from the right, his header lacked power and trickled wide of the target
With Queens struggling to find a breakthrough, and the game plan of the visitors working well, the game`s turning point arrived on 57 minutes when Annan had a man sent off. Less than 10 minutes after being booked, Peter Watson was late on Iain Russell, with the tackle leaving referee Norris, no other option than to send the defender off, and in that moment the game swung decidedly in favour of Queens. Before the Annan defence had chance to re-organise themselves, they had fallen behind. A perfect right wing cross from McKenna was powerfully headed home off the underside of the crossbar by Derek Lyle to give Queens the lead. The goal was just the boost that Queens needed, and settled by that and with the advantage of having an extra man, they began to apply the pressure on their League 2 opponents. A shot from Russell was hit too straight and was comfortable for the Annan `keeper, and then another promising move down the right hand side ended with a Mitchell shot fizzing just wide.
A high five for this young fan from goal scorer Lyle
Another goal looked likely, and sure enough after 66 minutes, Queens doubled their advantage. Michael Paton collected the ball just outside the penalty box and cracked a powerful drive towards goal, and although `keeper Mitchell made the save, he was unable to hold on,and Derek Lyle was on hand to net his and Queens` second goal from close in. That goal seemed to signal the end for the visitors as they realised that it would take a monumental effort to come back from the position they were in, and the result was made certain just 2 minutes later as Queens once again completed the feat of scoring 3 times in 11 minutes. After winning a free-kick on the left, a delivery from Kevin Holt was powerfully headed home by Derek Lyle to give the front man his first ever hat-trick for Queens. It was pretty much all one way traffic at this stage, and only a fine double save from `keeper Mitchell, first from McGuffie, and then from Russell prevented the visitors from falling further behind.
Lyle is first to react for his second
Derek Lyle celebrates his first ever hat trick for Queen of the South
Queens boss Jim McIntyre introduced Gavin Reilly for hat-trick hero Lyle with 20 minutes remaining, with the striker leaving the field to a well deserved standing ovation from the majority of the 1588 spectators. As the tie entered it`s closing stages, Queens were content to control the game at their own pace. They made two further changes as Dan Orsi replaced Iain Russell, and Ian McShane came on for Stephen McKenna, and with almost the last kick of the game, Queens went close to adding a fourth goal. A misplaced pass was seized upon by Ian McShane, and he in turn found Reilly unmarked in front of goal, but the youngster went for power and blasted the ball high over the target.
In the end it was Queens who progressed into the 2nd round of the Scottish Communities League cup, although up until the moment that they found the breakthrough, they had been frustrated by a well organised Annan defence who had acquitted themselves well. However, it`s goals that win games, and Derek Lyle`s burst of 3 in 11 minutes was enough to ensure that there were no shock headlines being written about the outcome of this match.