Queens extended their unbeaten start to the league campaign after they claimed a single goal victory over East Fife in this afternoon`s clash at Palmerston. The victory saw Queens re-establish their 7 point lead at the top of the table, and took their unbeaten run into double figures.
Boss Allan Johnston, made 4 changes to the team that began last weekend`s 2-2 draw with Stenhousemuir, as the suspended pair of Kevin Holt and Derek Young, were joined on the sidelines by the injured Mark Durnan, whilst Willie Gibson had to settle for a place on the bench. Ryan McGuffie, Stephen McKenna and Derek Lyle came into the starting line-up, with young defender Steven Black being given his first start for Queens, partnering skipper Chris Higgins at the centre of the defence. There was a change in formation as well for Queens as they opted for a 4-3-3 set up with Lyle, Gavin Reilly and Nicky Clark forming a three man strike force. This was the first league meeting at Palmerston between the sides since April 1999, when Queens ran out 2-0 winners, although in the fixture earlier in the season at Methil, the sides shared a goalless draw in a game that Queens dominated for the most part, but they were not able to make the decisive breakthrough.
On a miserable damp day, Queens were quickly into their stride, and might have opened the scoring after only 45 seconds. Daniel Carmichael was fouled some 10 yards outside the area on the right, and with everyone expecting a cross, Chris Mitchell elected to shoot, and his deflected attempt only missed the target by a matter of inches. The resulting corner was only half cleared by the under pressure visiting defence, and as the ball found it`s way to Reilly, he drove the ball across the six yard box where it seemed as though Lyle would have the easiest of tasks in steering the ball into the open goal, but a vital interception from Durie cleared the ball for a corner. This time Mitchell`s delivery found Derek Lyle and the striker planted a firm header past `keeper Antell to give Queens the opening goal after just 4 minutes.
Lyle rises high to score the only goal of the game
Well done Del Boy!
That encouraging start by Queens was the platform for them to take control of the game, and Clark almost got on the end of a long ball from Higgins, but the ball sped off the top of the greasy surface and the `keeper was able to collect. Minutes later Reilly`s cross saw Lyle attempt an overhead kick, but off balance, his attempt was always going wide of the target. A swift counter attack by the visitors almost got them level, but Lee Robinson produced a smart save from a good effort from Willis, the Queens `keeper back pedalling to tip the ball over the bar, and shortly afterwards, Robinson held on well following Sloan`s shot from distance from a free-kick. However, Queens were soon back on the offensive as Carmichael and Reilly combined well down the left before Carmichael was eventually fouled near the corner flag. The set piece delivery into the crowded penalty area was met by Black but his goalward header was knocked clear by Forster as the visitors repelled the Queens attack once more. On 25 minutes, Queens got a fortunate break. Ryan McGuffie`s loose pass in midfield was seized upon by Willis and after making good progress down the right, his cross into the middle went behind his fellow teammates inside the penalty area, much to the relief of the Queens defenders. That incident showed just how finely balanced the game was, and although Queens were doing the majority of the attacking, their failure to add to their lead was somewhat worrying. They had another chance to create some danger for the visitors when Clark hussled Durie into a mistake, but with Reilly waiting unmarked in the area, Clark took one touch too many and was unable to supply a telling pass as Durie recovered in time to clear the ball away.
Just short of the half an hour mark came the best chance for Queens to go further ahead. Paul Burns sent Clark clear on the left and the striker slipped a perfect pass inside to Reilly who had only `keeper Antell to beat, but he snatched at his shot and sent the ball yards wide of the far post. As Queens began to step up the pace, a neat move between Carmichael and McGuffie allowed Carmichael to deliver a delightful cross to the near post where Reilly`s powerful header from close range was beaten away by Antell. That was followed by a fast flowing move down the Queens right as Black`s well flighted pass sent McGuffie racing clear of the defence, his accurate cross finding Lyle who was just not able to keep his header down. With the half-time interval approaching, Queens created a further chance to double their lead. Paul Burns won possession in midfield and played a super ball into the path of Reilly, and the striker`s attempted curler from just inside the area took a nasty deflection before being pushed aside by Antell as the `keeper made another decent save to keep his side in the game.
Reilly fires wide when one-on-one with the keeper
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 EAST FIFE
The second period was slow to get started with the ball spending much of the opening minutes being thrown into play as each team gave up possession of the ball as soon as they got it, and it took 8 minutes of rather drab stuff before either side could muster an attempt on goal, and when it came, a header from Clark was well off target. The best chance of the early part of the second half came from a route one attack by Queens. Robinson`s long kick was flicked on by Reilly to Clark, and his shot was parried by the `keeper, and as the ball spun towards Carmichael , he missed his kick, and Lyle who was well positioned to shoot saw his attempt slip by the outside of the post as Queens passed up yet another chance to increase their lead. A good spell of play down the Queens left saw Mitchell, Lyle and Carmichael combine well before creating a shooting chance for Lyle, but his drive from distance went well wide. The first yellow card of the game for Queens was shown to Gavin Reilly after 58 minutes, the youngster hauling back Muir on the halfway line, and minutes later a mis-hit cross from Mitchell might have embarrassed the keeper, but the ball bounced off of the top of the bar and out for a throw.
Carmichael is manhandled by Antell well outside the keepers box
Midway through the half Queens introduced Willie Gibson in place of Clark, with Reilly playing as a lone striker and Carmichael tucking in just behind him. Following a corner from East Fife, it was Queens turn to attack on the break. A neat touch from Carmichael gave Stephen McKenna the chance to hit an excellent 35 yard pass straight into the path of Reilly, and taking the ball in his stride he cut in from the left but his attempt was swerving away from goal the moment he hit it. With just three minutes remaining, Queens scorer on the day Derek Lyle was replaced by Allan Johnston, and with just about his first touch, the manager produced a delightful chipped pass for Reilly to latch onto, but after rounding the `keeper, and with the angle narrowing all the time, he unfortunately missed his kick and the chance was gone. As the game moved into stoppage time, Reilly almost got in again, but he was denied a scoring chance as defender Forster was able to prevent a shot at goal.
Reilly never gave up and rounds Antell late on
The final whistle signalled another league win for Queens, their eighth so far, and it was also an eighth clean sheet in the league, as Queens kept tight hold of top spot in the division. Man-of-the-match went to Danny Carmichael, and Steven Black produced a solid performance on his first start for the team as Queens began the second quarter of the season by claiming all three points.