Queens maintained their position as leaders of division 2 after they recorded a narrow 1-0 win over Alloa Athletic at a bright, but blustery, Palmerston this afternoon. The single goal victory was enough to keep up this season`s 100% home league record, and also made it five league wins in succession for Allan Johnston`s side.
After the disappointment of losing for the first time this season in midweek,Queens, were eager to get back into the habit of winning games, and although the performance did not reach the heights of some of Queens earlier displays, they were still good enough on the day to claim all 3 points.
Manager Allan Johnston, made just the one change to the team that began against Dundee United, with Paul Burns -making his first home start since re-signing- replaced Stephen McKenna in midfield, and the manager included himself on the bench as Derek Lyle dropped out of the squad. Last season`s Queens skipper,Stephen Simmons,lined up against his former team.
From the outset, it was clear that Queens intended to try to and attack Alloa down the flanks, and in particular, down the right where the pace and trickery of Danny Carmichael could cause them problems, and the skillful winger was heavily involved in the opening spell, combining effectively with Nicky Clark as Queens began brightly. Early in the game, Clark had the chance to get behind the visitors defence, but a heavy first touch, and poor control saw him eventually run the ball out of play. After being given a free-kick on the right, Chris Mitchell picked out Kevin Holt with his cross, but the defender`s header across goal was too far in front of the onrushing Burns, and the danger was cleared. Again good work from Clark saw him reach the bye-line, but with Gavin Reilly well placed at the far post, Clark`s cross lacked direction and was easily gathered by Alloa `keeper Bain. The lively Clark then created a chance for himself, as his shot from 25 yards had to be tipped away for a corner by the alert Bain. The resulting corner from Willie Gibson was met at the far post by Mitchell`s volleyed pass back towards goal, but the ball was blocked away by the under pressure visiting defence. Alloa had hardly been inside the Queens half in the opening period, but a Ryan McCord effort from distance wasn`t that far away, and after a mistake in the middle of the park, Cawley was next to try his luck as the visitors created a couple of chances in quick succession.
Reilly fighting hard
Danny Carmichael continued to see plenty of the ball, but unfortunately on several occasions his final ball was not what he, or his team-mates would have wanted. Midway through the half as Queens pushed for the opening goal, a forward run from Kevin Holt ended with the defender slicing his shot from the edge of the box harmlessly wide. For some reason, Queens were finding it hard to find any real momentum, and the neat, quick , passing game that has so often been evident in games this season, was only visible in patches, which led to a certain amount of frustration being expressed by the some in the expectant home support. However, Queens stuck to their task and 35 minutes in, they produced their best move of the half. Carmichael`s skill and pace saw him skip away from 2 defenders and deliver a perfect cross to Reilly 12 yards out. The young striker directed a powerful header goalwards only to see Alloa `keeper Bain dive full length to push the ball away for a corner. Minutes later, Queens came even closer to opening the scoring when a hopeful driven cross from the right flicked off Clark and then hit defender Meggart which caused Bain to react quickly to smother the ball on the line. As the first period ended Kevin Holt reacted well to block a shot from Cawley as the visitors threatened again, and a frustrating half, with Queens creating the better of the chances came to a slightly disappointing conclusion.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 ALLOA
Queens began the 2nd half brightly, and a Gibson cross almost found it`s way to Clark, and moments later a cross from Reilly fell nicely into the path of Clark, but slightly off balance, the striker rushed his shot and blazed it wildly high. As Queens began to get on top, Gibson was next to have an attempt on goal, with his right-foot drive only just clearing the crossbar.
Carmichael takes on the Alloa defence
Alloa defender Gordon was yellow carded for hauling back Clark as the striker threatened to break clear, and a quick move involving Burns, Clark, and then Carmichael almost put Reilly in the clear, but the young Queens forward had strayed marginally offside and play was stopped. Just as it looked as if it was going to be one of those days for Queens, they made the breakthrough on 67 minutes, and Reilly was the at the heart of the move. The striker showed great spirit and determination to win the ball out by the touchline, and after doing so his pass set Clark free on the left. Clark found Burns, who in turn found Carmichael who saw his shot parried away by the `keeper, but the ball rolled nicely to Reilly and his driven shot across goal was tapped in at the far post by the unmarked Nicky Clark who claimed his 3rd league goal of the season, and his 9th in all competitions so far this season.
Clark slips the ball home
Clark is airborne as he attempts a spectacular effort late on
Queens made a change straight after the goal, with Dan Orsi replacing Willie Gibson for the last 22 minutes. The home side tried to increase the pace of the game, and a flick on by Clark sent Reilly bursting clear of the defence, but as he tried to steady himself to shoot, he lost control at the vital moment and the ball was cleared to safety. A Chris Mitchell cross sat up nicely for Clark to hit, but he mis-hit his effort which almost ran through to Burns, but Bain was alert to the situation and claimed the ball just ahead of the Queens man.
As the clock moved towards the 90 minute mark, Queens survived a couple of tricky moments at the back as first Mark Durnan, and then Chris Mitchell made timely blocks to preserve the lead, and ensure that Queens extended their unbeaten league run.
Skipper Chris Higgins was named as man-of-the-match, and I would expect that most of the crowd of 1573 would be in agreement as Queens completed another calendar month unbeaten in the league.