It ended all square in this afternoon`s Scottish Championship clash at a blustery Palmerston Park, as Queens and Alloa shared the points in a scoreless encounter that offered little in the way of excitement as both sets of players were clearly affected by their midweek exertions. In a game that was pretty much devoid of any creativity, both teams struggled to fashion a really clear cut opportunity during the 90 minutes, as a scrappy, disjointed game ended without either team being able to find a breakthrough, and for the Queens fans in the crowd of 1607, it was the first time that they had seen their team fail to score since Alloa were last at Palmerston back in February.
Following on from Tuesdays thrilling extra time League Cup win over St.Mirren, Queens boss Jim McIntyre, was forced into making one change to the team that began against the `Buddies`, as the injured Paul Burns was replaced by Ryan McGuffie, he also chose to recall club captain, Chris Higgins, after a 3 game absence, as he replaced Kevin Holt at full back. It was a special day for defender Chris Mitchell as he made his 50th start for Queens, coincidentally against the same team that he made his debut against. Visitors Alloa who performed heroically in their League Cup game at Pittodrie, eventually losing on penalty kicks, made just one change to their starting line-up as Jason Marr was replaced by Declan McManus, as they looked to build on a decent start to their league campaign of two wins and a defeat.
Queens got the game under way playing in their usual 4-1-2-3 formation, and an early error by former Queens man, Stephen Simmons allowed Michael Paton to collect the ball and have the game`s first attempt at goal, but his effort was blocked away for Queens` first corner which ended with visiting `keeper Bain making a simple catch under no pressure. At the other end a swift break from the visitors created a shooting chance for McCord, although his attempt from just outside the area was comfortably held by Calum Antell. With Alloa taking the game to Queens in the opening stages, they were having the majority of possession, and striker Kirk might well have caused a problem for Antell had he been able to put more power into a header following a neat turn and cross from Holmes, but as it was, the Queens `keeper saved easily. Andy Dowie looked to have pulled a muscle as he cleared up after the next Alloa attack, and for a few minutes it appeared that he was struggling, although he seemed to have got over the problem as the game continued.
The midfield contest in the opening spell was being easily won by the visitors as Queens struggled to find any momentum in that area, and as a consequence, Alloa grew in confidence. The lively pair of Cawley, and Holmes were posing the Queens defence many problems, although the final ball to them on several occasions, frustrated not only them, but manager Paul Hartley as well. It took almost 20 minutes for Queens to put together a promising attack that almost led to them going ahead. Danny Carmichael provided a neat touch in midfield and played a well weighted pass into the path of Paton whose first time cross was blocked away for a corner on the right. Mitchell`s delivery to the far post was met by Mark Durnan`s downward header, but the pace on the ball was not enough to trouble `keeper Bain. Moments later a quick break from the visitors involving Cawley and Kirk, created a shooting chance for McCord, but his drive from the angle of the penalty area was always clearing the bar.
After 38 minutes, Queens put together their best move of the half and they really should have opened the scoring. A break down the right flank by Paton was supported by the run of Mitchell, and after exchanging passes, Paton`s dinked cross into the 6-yard area found an unmarked Ryan McGuffie, but his glancing header from close range went the wrong side of the upright as far as Queens were concerned. The visitors were next to threaten when sloppy play in the middle of the park allowed Kirk the chance to take possession and drive forward, and his low shot from 16-yards forced a save from Antell who pushed the ball away for a corner. The resulting set-piece was cleared as far as Simmons on the edge of the box, and although he made a good connection with the ball, his shot flew wide of the target. With the half nearing completion, the visitors were awarded a free-kick after McGuffie was penalised for a push, but a Gordon header from McCord`s cross looped over the bar. As the visitors continued to have a slight upper hand, McManus found space inside the area, but surrounded by Queens defenders, he was unable to keep his shot down and the chance had gone.
Not a great half of football, and it was the visitors who probably edged the half, but it was the chance for Ryan McGuffie that was probably the best of the opening 45 minutes.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 ALLOA
Queens were forced into making a change at the break, with Andy Dowie,who did seem to take an early knock, being replaced by Kevin Holt, as for the first time this season, the back four of last term lined up together. An early attack by Queens saw Carmichael attempt to find Derek Lyle with a cross, but once more the final ball lacked accuracy and was easily defended by the visitors. It had been a very quiet half for Lyle, as starved of any service he was unable to get into the game, and for long periods of the contest he was very often isolated up front. The striker then became the first player to be cautioned, as frustration grew within the Queens camp.The Queens boss wasted no time in making his 2nd change as within 5 minutes of the re-start, Iain Russell replaced Michael Paton, as they looked to improve their forward play.
The introduction of Russell did at last inject a sense of urgency into the game, and following a decent cross from the left, Lyle flashed a header well wide of the far post, and he followed that minutes later with a speculative drive that was comfortably gathered by `keeper Bain. The final throw of the Queens` dice came just after the hour when Gavin Reilly replaced McGuffie, with the manager also changing to a 4-4-2 formation. After 69 minutes returning skipper, Chris Higgins, was booked as his clumsy challenge on Cawley on half-way was rightly penalised. From the re-start, Alloa gained another corner, and Antell saved Gordon`s header almost on the line. As the game moved towards it`s final period, Queens had a couple of half chances within the same move to take the lead. As the ball `pin-balled` around the area, a shot from Russell was blocked into the path of Durnan, but his shot was also blocked as the well organised visiting defence stood firm. The next period of play ended with something that is never nice to see as the game was stopped due to a nasty injury. As Alloa substitute Edward Ferns chased a long ball into the area, he was met by the onrushing Antell, and as the two collided, the unfortunate Fearns took the worst of the clash, and following several minutes of treatment, he left the field on a stretcher with what was thought to have been a broken jaw. All at Queen of the South, wish him well, and hope his injury is not too serious.
With full-time approaching, both teams had half chances to win the game. A corner for Alloa was headed on by Meggatt and as confusion reigned in the Queens defence, there were fortunately enough players to block efforts from Gordon, and Cawley as Queens escaped. Then at the other end the final chance almost saw Reilly set up Russell, but his cushioned lay-off inside the 6-yard box was slightly too hard and the ball ran out of play for a goal kick. It was not hard to see why Alloa have made such a good start to the campaign, they were well organised, hard to breakdown, and quite effective on the break, and as disappointing as the performance was from a Queens point of view, the unbeaten home run in the league continues, and it`s a first clean sheet in the league this season.