Queens produced a thrilling extra-time victory to send the Scottish League Cup holders St. Mirren, crashing out from this seasons competition in an entertaining clash under the Palmerston lights. After the game ended scoreless after 90 minutes, all the drama unfolded in a pulsating 30 minutes of extra time, which saw St. Mirren miss a penalty, take the lead, and then spend the last 5 minutes chasing a goal after Queens replied with two stunning goals that shocked their top-flight opponents.
Having played their last three games away from home, Queens returned to the familiar surroundings of Palmerston to begin a run of three successive home games, and following the setback at Hamilton, boss Jim McIntyre made two changes to the team that started at New Douglas Park, Derek Young and Michael Paton returned to the side with Ryan McGuffie and Iain Russell starting on the bench. St.Mirren also made changes to the team that was comprehensively beaten at Ross County last time out as David Van Zanten, and John McGinn, came in for Darren McGregor and Paul McGowan, they also included latest recruit Jake Caprice who joined on a season long loan from English Championship side, Blackpool, who started on the bench.
On a pleasant evening for football, Queens, attacking the Terregles Street end of the ground started brightly, and after just 6 minutes they had their first effort of the game when a shot from Derek Lyle from 25- yards out just dipped over the bar. As Queens continued to press forward, a neat twist and turn by Danny Carmichael was only stopped illegally by Van Zanten, the defender being shown a very early yellow card for the foul. The home side continued to have the better of the play, and Carmichael got on to the end of a superb pass from Stephen McKenna, but after cutting inside and setting up a shooting chance for himself, he lacked composure and fired his effort harmlessly over the bar.
After chasing a loose ball on the right side of midfield, Paul Burns pulled up in some pain with what seemed to be a nasty injury, and Queens were forced to make their first change of the game with Ryan McGuffie replacing the unfortunate Burns who was stretchered from the field. The game wasn`t all one way though, and the cup holders began to pass the ball around with style and confidence, although they created very little in the final third of the field as Queens defended solidly. A shot from Michael Paton after 21 minutes forced visiting `keeper Cornell into a smart save, and from the resulting corner, Mark Durnan out jumped the Saints defence to crash a back post header off the upright, although the whistle went for a foul by the big centre-back. For the first 30 minutes of the contest , the teams were pretty evenly matched, although it was Queens who had created the better of the scoring opportunities, and a long diagonal ball from McKenna almost found McGuffie at the far post, but the Saints defence stood firm and Queens could only win a corner. It was from the corner that the home side created possibly their best chance of the half. Mitchell`s delivery from the left was cleared as far as McGuffie, and his shot was blocked into the path of Durnan 8-yards out in front of goal, but slightly off balance, he was unable to keep his shot down and the ball beat `keeper and crossbar and the chance was gone.
Off the bar from Durnan
On 40 minutes Kevin Holt became the first Queens player to be booked for what was deemed to be a foul on Van Zanten, and seconds later Michael Paton seized upon an error by Newton in midfield to try his luck from distance once more, `keeper Cornell saving well at the expense of a corner. As the half-time interval approached, Gary Harkins, who had been pretty quiet, almost scored what would have been a wonder goal. Collecting the ball just inside the Queens half, he waltzed past three defenders before hitting a ferocious shot from 25-yards out that flew past Antell but smashed against the far post, a really big let off for Queens, but so close for the cup holders.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 ST.MIRREN
The second period began with Queens launching an attack down the left as Carmichael skipped past two defenders before drilling a cross into the 6-yard box, but the ball was just too far ahead of the onrushing Derek Lyle. That was about as good as it got for Queens in the early part of the half, as St.Mirren at last began to show their quality. After being subdued for most of the first half, Harkins and Newton started to find more time and space in midfield, and Gary Teale on the right wing began to pose more problems. A shot from McGinn produced a fine save from Antell, and from the corner that followed, a Thompson header was only just wide, and moments later Queens had their `keeper to thank again as once more he produced a fine save to stop another Thompson header. For the first time in the match, Queens were under severe pressure, and a teasing cross from Teale was well defended by a combination of Durnan and Dowie as the defence stood firm.
After weathering the storm, Queens launched a quick attack that almost saw them take the lead. A run down the right saw Mitchell get beyond the Saints defence, and his cut back found Lyle, but `keeper Cornell produced a wonderful reaction save to keep the game level. Harkins was then shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Young in midfield, and with 20 minutes left Young, who was still feeling the effect of that challenge,was replaced by Gavin Reilly. Carmichael and Paton combined to create another chance, this time Paton`s drive from distance was comfortably collected by the Saints `keeper. A foul on McKenna created a shooting chance for Mitchell 30-yards out, but he was unable to test the `keeper as he hit his shot high into the Portland Drive terracing. Danny Lennon made his first change on 76 minutes when he sent on McGowan in place of Newton, and the substitute was immediately involved as his pass found Teale on the right. The tricky wing man skipped around Holt and played a neat pass inside to Harkins whose first time drive flew into the side netting which saw many of the visiting supporters think that they had scored.
Paton looks for a team mate to set up
Queens made their final change with 8 minutes left, Iain Russell coming on for Carmichael, and the pace of the former Livingston player almost paid dividends straight away, but he was just not able to find Lyle with his final pass. With the game approaching full-time, a cross from McLean picked out Harkins, but his flicked effort went well wide of the target, and the match moved into extra time.
The extra 30 minutes was full of drama, and after just 3 of those minutes, St. Mirren had a golden opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a penalty. Michael Paton had plenty of time to clear a long ball, but as he was closed down and pressurised by Thompson, the Queens man lost the ball, and in an effort to regain possession he bundled the Saints striker to the ground just inside the penalty area. Substitute McGowan stepped up to take the kick, but Calum Antell superbly saved his effort, diving to his right to keep the low shot out. However, with the applause for the save still ringing around the ground, joy turned to despair for Queens moments later when the visitors did eventually find the breakthrough. Teale picked up the ball in midfield and after moving forward found Harkins wide on the right in acres of space, and he was able to pick out a perfect cross that was powerfully headed home by Thompson as he climbed high above the Queens defence. The goal was a real blow for Queens, but undaunted they rallied, and Russell, who had injected some pace and urgency into the side was fouled by McAusland, and that earned the former Queens player a yellow card for his efforts. Russell then forced Cornell to make a save at his near post as Queens looked to respond, and respond they did, as 2 minutes before the end of the first period they equalised when Stephen McKenna blasted home an unstoppable drive from 25-yards to give Queens a well deserved equaliser.
Antell gets down well to block McGowan`s penalty attempt
Thompson beats Mitchell in the air to head St.Mirren into the lead
McKenna enjoyed his equalising goal
The final 15 minute period got under way with McGinn trying his luck from distance, but the shot had no power and was comfortably gathered by Antell. Saints new loan signing Jake Caprice had come on for Teale just before the extra-time break, and he showed good pace and skill to escape past Holt, but his cross into the box was cleared before Thompson could latch on to his pass. Iain Russell became the next player to be cautioned as he blocked off Harkins in midfield, however moments after conceding that free-kick, Queens were in front. Skipper Goodwin`s set-piece drifted harmlessly out of play, and from the re-start Antell`s clearance up field was flicked on by Lyle into the path of Michael Paton who controlled the ball on his chest before driving a half volley past the motionless Cornell from 25-yards out, a terrific finish by the former Aberdeen man. That goal came in the 115th minute, and although the majority of the 2073 crowd had an anxious last 6 or so minutes to endure, in truth, the cup holders never really threatened to find a way back into the game, and it is Queens who will be in Thursday`s League Cup 3rd round draw.
Paton goes to the crowd to celebrate his winning strike