Queens took a giant step nearer the second division title with this hard fought 2-1 victory over second placed Alloa Athletic. On a day of difficult weather in Dumfries-shire that prevented many from travelling, including the main supporters buses, and disrupted with the website coverage also, the team ground out an important win, possibly against the run of play in the second half.
Jake McMurdo (secret QoS fan) with the captains and referee at kick off
There were three changes to the starting eleven that faced Arbroath seven days earlier. Captain Chris Higgins returned from injury to take his place at centre half which meant Ryan McGUffie dropped to the bench and Kevin Holt dropped out of the sixteen altogether. Elsewhere, Derek Lyle pushed back up front as Clark`s partner so Reilly and Burns dropped out to accommodate Young and Gibson coming in. Young`s return to the squad also meant there was no place among the substitutes for Kevin Smith.
Queens had the better of the opening period with Nicky Clark twice going close before the home side had caused any threat. However, midway through the half a driving run from Cawley saw him leave several Queens players in his wake before firing over from 20 yards. A few minutes later the same player hooked a ball across the face of goal dangerously but Chris Mitchell was alert to the danger and was first to the loose ball at the back post to clear. The game burst into life on 40 minutes just after Danny Carmichael had been booked for a trip in midfield. Alloa earned a corner from the right and it caused problems in the Queens defence with Robinson barely clawing the ball away from under his own bar. However, the loose ball was collected on the edge of his own box by Nicky Clark who turned and ran a good 80 yards up the pitch with Mark Docherty trailing in his wake before the Alloa defender was forced to foul him just outside his own box out wide. The defender was duly booked for his cynical foul but he received a much worse punishment seconds later as Mitchell fired the resulting free kick low and hard back across goal and Nicky Clark fired the ball high into the net from 12 yards.
Nicky celebrates his strike
The second period saw Alloa take control but not before Scott Bain had made a remarkable reaction save to prevent Clark doubling his tally. Thereafter though the home side had several opportunities before Kevin Cawley equalised with a shot across Robinson following a clever pass. With their tails up the Wasps looked to complete the turnaround and they were unlucky when Calum Elliot`s shot from 20 yards on the break clipped the top of the crossbar, though Lee Robinson may claim he would have got to it had it been on target.
There then followed a succession of penalty claims, the strongest of which was probably when Chris Mitchell appeared to block an Alloa cross with a raised hand right in front of referee Andrew Dallas. However, the young whistler waved play on. At the other end both Clark (at a free kick) and Lyle thought they had been pushed over in the penalty area but again nothing was given. It was going to take a refereeing decision to split the two sides and it duly arrived with five minutes to go as Derek Young broke into the box on the end of a clever pass. This time the foul was very obvious and easy to give as Daryll Meggatt pulled him over. Ryan McGuffie had not long been on the pitch for the injured Durnan but as he`s the designated penalty taker his presence was fortunate for such a crucial spot kick. He duly stepped up and fired the ball into the right side of the net.
Ryan slams the penalty home
Although the home side exerted some pressure in the last few minutes, the best they could manage was a dangerous through ball bravely taken by Robinson in amongst feet and Queens held on comfortably enough to record a record equalling 24th league win in a season. A win on Wednesday at Brechin, on Saturday at Palmerston or two draws will be enough to ensure our third ever championship.
Derek Young shows his delight to the travelling support