Queens slipped to their third home league defeat of the season after league leaders Hamilton Accies claimed all three points courtesy of striker Mickael Antoine-Curier`s 16th minute goal, and try as they might, Queens were just not able to find a way back into the game, as the table toppers recorded their 8th league win of the campaign.
Having got the better of their visitors in last weekend`s cup win, Queens went into the game boosted by that result, and manager, Jim McIntyre, began the game with by making just one change, as match winner, Derek Lyle replaced Ian McShane. There was also a welcome return to the squad for Stephen McKenna, whilst local youngster, Scott Hooper made his first appearance in the match day squad. The visitors started Mickael Antoine-Curier who replaced Eamonn Brophy, as they too, made just the one change.
The game began with Queens kicking towards the Portland Drive end of the ground in the first half, which took a bit of getting used to as they like to defend that end in the first period, and as the game settled down, it was the home side who enjoyed most of the early possession., and with the pace of Gavin Reilly and his ability to close down defenders quickly, the visitors wasted much of their possession by hitting long balls that Queens managed to deal with. After 7 minutes, Queens won a free-kick in a dangerous position after Gordon was penalised for a foul on Iain Russell, but the normally reliable Chris Mitchell passed up the chance to put pressure on the Accies defence as his kick into the area was too low and was headed clear by the first defender.
Hamilton almost profited following an error by Derek Young whose misplaced pass fell nicely for Andreu, but there was enough cover in defence and Queens repelled the attack comfortably. Queens then created a half chance as Mitchell`s cross into the area was cleared, and after eventually collecting and controlling the ball, Danny Carmichael whipped in a fierce drive from just inside the penalty area that took a feint deflection and flew just past the far post resulting in Queens` first corner of the game. With everybody waiting for a cross into the box, the corner was taken short and closed down and cleared by the Accies defence. Moments later, and it was the visitors turn to go close. With the ball bouncing around dangerously in the Queens box, Mark Durnan elected for a safety first policy and knocked the ball over the bar for Accies first corner. As the ball was delivered to the far post, Devlin outjumped everyone to glance a header inches wide of the far upright. With a quarter of an hour played, Queens had a decent chance to break the deadlock following a `route one` move. Zander Clark`s long punt up field was flicked on by Reilly into the path of Derek Lyle, but as the ball gathered pace and with a defender ahead of him, Lyle could not quite make up enough ground to reach the ball before it was collected by Accies `keeper, Cuthbert.
Lyle almost gets on the end of the through ball from Reilly
However, less than 60 seconds later, the deadlock was broken, but unfortunately for Queens, it was the league leaders who opened the scoring. A break down the right hand side by Gordon saw his cross blocked away by the outstretched leg of Chris Higgins, but the ball fell nicely for Andreu who drove a pass across the six-yard box, and Antoine-Curier was on hand to smash the ball past Clark from close range. Once again, Queens had conceded the opening goal and after going ahead, it was the league leaders who began to take more control of the game, and a neat move again down the right, saw Antoine-Curier`s shot parried at the near post by Clark, and then a shot from distance by Crawford flew well wide as the visitors looked to increase their lead.
The first of five yellow cards in the game was shown to Gordon after 34 minutes for another foul on Russell, and three minutes later, Russell had a great chance to restore parity for Queens, but following Durnan`s cross and Lyle`s flick on, the striker placed his effort a foot the wrong side of the post. The well marshalled Accies defence were keeping both Lyle and Russell quiet, and so Queens looked to go wide to either Russell or Carmichael in an effort to launch their attacks, but just like last week`s clash, both Hamilton full backs were wise to the situation and as such Queens options were limited.
As half-time approached much of the play was condensed into the middle of the park, and with both sets of defences coping well with the opposing forwards, the final few minutes of the half petered out, as for the second home game in a row, Queens trailed at the break.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-1 HAMILTON
Queens started the 2nd period on the front foot as they took the game to the visitors, and with Kevin Dzierzawski spraying the ball from side to side hoping to find a way past the resolute Accies defence, the Queens fans in the crowd of 1577 at last saw their team threaten to get back into the contest. A cross field pass from Dzierzawski -being watched by his family for the first time outside of the States-found Mitchell down the right, and his first time ball into the area was punched away by Cuthbert as Lyle closed in, and as Queens continued in the ascendancy, a break by Young was only ended by a rash challenge 10 yards outside of the penalty area, the foul seeing defender Canning becoming the second Accies player to be cautioned. From the resultant free-kick, Mitchell was able to get his shot over the wall, but his effort had too much curl on it and it flew a couple of feet past the post.
Stephen McKenna returned to the action after being out for the last 8 games as he replaced the tiring Dzierzawski, and as Queens continued to go forward, they created a real opportunity to draw level. Excellent play by Iain Russell on the left saw him glide past two defenders before standing up a perfect cross for Derek Lyle, but although the former Accies man got plenty of power into his header it was just the right height for `keeper Cuthbert to tip over the bar. From the corner, Lyle went even closer to scoring as this time his close range header beat Cuthbert but was cleared off the line by Hendrie. For all their possession, Queens never really looked threatening from open play, but they were certainly dangerous from set plays.
Hamilton had rarely got anywhere near the Queens area in the opening phase of the second half, but on a rare foray forward, Antoine-Curier`s shot from distance flew into the Portland Drive terracing well wide of the target. Queens made their second change on 66 minutes as Danny Carmichael was replaced by Michael Paton, and minutes later, skipper Chris Higgins became the 3rd player to be booked as he blocked off a Hamilton attacker after a poor pass from Durnan had left the Queens captain in trouble. The game was held up for a few minutes moments later when an accidental clash of heads between Durnan, and Antoine-Curier, left the Accies striker flat out-the player having to be stretchered from the field with what was later diagnosed as a supressed cheekbone fracture. When the game resumed, Queens were nearly punished following a quick free-kick. A neat pass split the Queens defence and found the unmarked Brophy-Antoine-Curier`s replacement-but both Higgins and Kevin Holt did enough to force the player wide and the chance was gone. Queens final change saw Ian McShane come on for Derek Young with 10 minutes or so remaining, and although Queens were able to pump balls into the penalty area almost at will, too often the deliveries were aimless, and Canning and Devlin were always able to clear the danger.
Cuthbert just gets his hand to this Lyle header to divert it over the bar
With the game well and truly stretched, a break from Hamilton seemed to have won them a free-kick just outside the area as Gillespie went to ground, but as play continued and Queens gained possession and eventually won a corner, referee Salmond signalled out Gillespie whom he then booked, presumably for simulation. The deep corner to the back post found an unmarked Holt, but perhaps surprised by the fact that the ball had reached him, the full back`s header went straight into the air and out of play for a goal kick. As time ticked by, Queens resorted more and more to the long ball, and as for the good majority of the game each time their attempts were rebuffed by the resolute Accies defence in which Martin Canning was a commanding force. Defending a single goal lead led to the inevitable slow re-starts from throw-ins, and goal kicks, and `keeper Cuthbert became the 4th Hamilton player to see yellow after the referee`s patience ran out, as he booked the shot stopper for time wasting
Even though the game went a full 5 minutes over the regulation time, Queens could not find a way past the Hamilton defence, and on this display it was easy to see why the league leaders have only conceded 5 league goals so far this season. For Queens, it was a 6th league defeat of the season, and it leaves them having won just once at home in the league so far,that victory coming on the opening day against Dundee. With Morton visiting Palmerston next weekend, Queens and their fans will be hoping that they can collect a similar result to the one they got at Cappielow back in September.