A spirited performance from ten-man Queen of the South was not enough to prevent SPL side Kilmarnock from running out 2-1 winners in the Scottish Cup Second Round match at Rugby Park.
A first half goal from Cillian Sheridan after Stephen McKenna was given a red card gave Kilmarnock the lead going into half-time. Borja Perez doubled the home side?s lead on 69 minutes before Nicky Clark headed a consolation with fourteen minutes remaining.
The Second Division leaders knew they would be in for a tough match but things were made even tougher as midfielder Stephen McKenna saw red within the first ninety seconds after his tackle on Borja Perez was seen as a dangerous one by Mike Tumilty the match official. The Queens faithful were incensed as they felt that it was a harsh dismissal and that McKenna?s tackle warranted no more than a booking.
The referee shows a red card very early on
Kilmarnock, buoyed by their man advantage, took the game to the away side and put Queens under real pressure with Lee Robinson making a great double save on six minutes. Perez crossed from a wide free-kick to find Paul Heffernan completely unmarked whose glancing header looked to be destined for the bottom corner before Robinson pushed it wide at full stretch. Cillian Sheridan pounced on the rebound but the ?keeper was equal to it and the Queens defence managed to clear.
Heffernan?s header was a warning sign as the Queens defence struggled to overcome the confusion following the red card and allowed Sheridan to open the scoring after ten minutes. The former Celtic striker was completely unmarked at the far post and buried the ball emphatically from a corner from the left.
Sheridan fires home
It took twenty minutes for Queens to manage their first shot on target as Chris Mitchell?s free-kick from 25-yards found a gap in the Kilmarnock wall but Cammy Bell dealt with it easily enough.
As the half wore on Queens settled into the game as they made it difficult for the SPL side to pass their way through and tried to hit Kilmarnock on the counter attack.
The away side?s first real chance came on 36 minutes as Nicky Clark drove at the Kilmarnock defence and fed the ball to Ryan McGuffie who found himself in space on the edge of the box. It would perhaps have been better had the roles been reversed as the full-back miscued and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the Kilmarnock goal.
Nicky Clark then had a long range effort that flew a couple of yards over before Paul Heffernan smashed an effort onto the Queen of the South crossbar on the stroke of half-time. Derek Lyle found himself on the ball halfway inside the Queens half and without an obvious pass dribbled inside before Heffernan stole the ball. The Englishman then smashed a fierce effort beyond Lee Robinson but was denied by the goal-frame.
That was not the end of the first-half action as a lovely move involving Carmichael, Clark and Burns opened up the Kilmarnock defence. Carmichael attacked the defence and played the ball inside to Paul Burns coming on to the edge of the Kilmarnock box. The midfielder could have shot but elected to lay the ball to Clark eight yards out but Queens? top scorer could not control the shot and miscued the ball inches wide of Bell?s post.
Annan lad Cammy Bell thwarts Clark at the end of the second half
The second half began much as the first ended with Kilmarnock controlling possession and Queens looking to break on the counter attack.
Cillian Sheridan twice came close in the space of two minutes as he glanced a header wide from the edge of the six-yard box before Robinson?s crossbar was rattled once again. Queens failed to clear and Heffernan fed the ball to Sheridan who chose to hit the ball first time on the half-volley from 20 yards and the ball flew past Robinson and cannoned back off the woodwork.
Queens were on the attack immediately afterwards as Carmichael?s cross fell to Derek Lyle at the far post and the experienced striker took a touch before forcing a save from Bell in the Kilmarnock goal before his defence cleared the area.
Bell foils Lyle
Queen of the South began to grow in confidence as they started to worry the Kilmarnock defence but the ten men left a gap at the back as the home side countered following a Queens corner. Gary Harkins had troubled the Queens defence all game with his dribbling and passing skills and the moustachioed playmaker made the difference as his low cross found Borja Perez who kept his composure to pass the ball into the far corner.
The cup-tie looked to be over but Nicky Clark made the game of it with a majestic diving header. Nice passing in the Queens midfield opened up a space on the right and Ryan McGuffie was more than happy to power into it. The full-back whipped in a cracking cross towards Nicky Clark who bulleted a diving header past a helpless Cammy Bell.
Nicky dives and heads home
It was a wonderful diving header but it was only to be a consolation goal as Kilmarnock played the game out for the last ten minutes and booked their place in the Third Round.
Had it been eleven against eleven it may well have been a different outcome as Queens acquitted themselves well against the SPL outfit and can take heart from how well they competed against eleven men.
Brilliant travelling support outsang the three Killie singers all afternoon