Queens completed their home programme for 2013 by sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw with Livingston in today`s Championship clash at a rain swept Palmerston. After falling behind to an early goal, Queens fought their way back into the game and took a deserved lead into the interval, but they were unable to hold on, and the visitors claimed a share of the points when they found an equalising goal 13 minutes from time.
The Queens team showed 4 changes to the side that started in the Cup defeat at St. Mirren 11 days ago, as Kevin Dzierzawski, Gavin Reilly, Michael Paton, and Andy Dowie were all included from the start, Dowie being recalled after a 9 game absence to partner Mark Durnan at the centre of the defence. There was also a place on the bench for local youngster, Malcolm Burgess, who was making his first appearance in the match day squad.Visitors Livingston included former Queens man, Andy Barrowman up front alongside the League`s joint leading scorer, Marc McNulty, and arrived in Dumfries after keeping their first clean sheet of the campaign after last weekend`s scoreless draw with Hamilton.
Before kick-off a minute`s silence was held in respect of the victims of the Lockerbie disaster, which happened 25 years ago today, and as you would expect, all present observed the minute impeccably. The game began with Queens attacking towards the Terregles Street end, knowing that a win would see them move above the visitors and into 6th place in the table. However, with less than four minutes on the clock, it was Livingston who took an early grip on the game as they went in front. After gaining possession inside their own half, `Livvy` attacked at pace down the Queens left and as Jacobs found Barrowman just outside the penalty area, the striker was able to play a neat pass into his fellow strike partner McNulty, and he produced a precise finish to slip the ball past Zander Clark. It was just the start that the visitors would have hoped for, and boosted by the goal they began to play some good approach football, although they were never really able to punish a nervy Queens defence. In fact it was the home side who were next to go close when Michael Paton`s free-kick from the left was only inches away from being met by Iain Russell.
A minutes respect was shown for the victims of the Lockerbie bombing 25 years ago today
At the other end, Queens were slightly fortunate not to fall further behind when Barrowman`s flicked header fell only inches wide of the far post, but after that effort, the game began to turn with Queens slowly starting to find their way back into the game.They began to have more meaningful possession of the ball, and on 17 minutes, they drew level. After fantastic closing down by Gavin Reilly, running from right to left, and back again, pressurising the Livingston defence, the youngster`s presence was enough to allow Stephen McKenna the chance to `steal ` the ball some 25 yards from goal, and in doing so he was fouled, which gave Queens a free-kick in a good position. With most people in the ground expecting Chris Mitchell to step forward, Michael Paton had other ideas and he produced a stunning effort that beat the wall and curled into the top corner of the net giving `Livvy` `keeper Jamieson no chance to save it. The goal was Paton`s first league goal since the opening day win over Dundee, and what a cracker it was.
Keeper Jamieson could only admire Paton`s strike as it flew past him and hit the back of the net
Paton soaks in the applause for the strike
The goal sent the confidence rushing through the Queens players, and less than 40 seconds after the goal they might have taken the lead, but after a terrific run down the left, Iain Russell`s attempt at goal was tame and was easily saved by Jamieson. With their tails up, Queens looked sharper and faster and more confident on the ball, and following a corner with a bit more luck they could well have taken the lead. Mitchell`s delivery to the back post was headed back across goal by McKenna, where Andy Dowie, closely marked, could not generate enough power in his header to beat the `keeper. The first yellow card of the game was shown to Livingston`s Fordyce following his trip on the lively Russell after 29 minutes, and two minutes later he was joined in the referee`s notebook by McKenna after poor control by the Queens midfielder resulted in him dragging back his opponent in midfield.
With the rain continuing to poor down, both teams must be credited for providing some good entertainment in what were pretty awful conditions, and as the half moved towards it`s conclusion, it was Queens who continued on the front foot. With just 3 minutes of the half remaining, the game threatened to boil over after a clash involving McKenna and Mensing, Mensing reacting to McKenna`s hard but fair challenge, but common sense prevailed and the referee took no action, thankfully for McKenna as another caution would have seen him sent off. Almost immediately a thumping half volley from Dzierzawski drew a good save from Jamieson that resulted in a corner, and from the resulting set-piece, Jamieson produced an exceptional save to push away Russell`s powerful drive from 10 yards out. However, the Livingston `keeper`s next action was to pick the ball out of his net, as Mitchell`s well flighted corner was powerfully headed home by Mark Durnan right on the stroke of half-time, the big centre back netting for the first time this season. The visitors only had time to re-start the game before the half-time whistle sounded.
Durnan heads Queens into the lead on the stroke of half time
HALF-TIME QUEENS 2-1 LIVINGSTON
There were no changes made at the break, and in the early minutes of the 2nd half, it was the visitors who began brightly. Queens `keeper, Zander Clark had to be alert when a shot from Jacobs following an early corner bounced just in front of him forcing him to react quickly to collect the ball at the second attempt. Queens first venture forward in the half saw Paton and Russell link up well down the left wing, but Russell`s effort carried no threat and was easily saved by Jamieson. Queens next attack came down the right when McKenna`s strength set Paton free, but Paton`s ball into the danger area was a fraction too far ahead of the unmarked Gavin Reilly and the ball was cleared for a corner, which was ultimately easily defended by the `Livvy` rearguard.
A break from midfield by Paul Burns led to him trying his luck from distance, but his right foot drive started wide and ended up wider as Queens continued to push for a third goal. The third goal very nearly arrived on 64 minutes, Paton`s turn and cross found the head of Reilly 8 yards out, but the young striker could only glance his header wide of the far post. On 71 minutes, Kevin Holt joined team-mate McKenna in the referee`s notebook after being booked for wasting time at a throw-in-perhaps a bit harsh, but he had been warned only minutes earlier. Queens then made a double change with Danny Carmichael replacing the impressive Michael Paton, and Derek Lyle coming on for the hard working Reilly, to play as the lone striker.
Rain, rain and more rain - but a perfect pitch throughout
Unfortunately for Queens, with just 13 minutes left to play, Livingston drew level with a cracking goal of their own. In a move that involved plenty of neat, one touch passing just outside the Queens penalty area, Barrowman`s lay off to McNulty enabled the in form striker to hit a super effort past Clark to tie the game up. Either side could have gone on to score the winning goal at that point. Queens had a chance from another free-kick, but this time a Mitchell drive was comfortably saved, and at the other end, substitute Burchill had the ball in the net but was flagged for offside. A third yellow card for Queens followed when Dzierzawski was cautioned for a foul on Jacobs, and that was to be the American`s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by Ian McShane for the final seconds. There was still one final chance for Queens to win the game when deep into stoppage time, the ball broke for Iain Russell 8-yards out, but the normally reliable striker rushed his angled shot, and blasted the ball yards wide of the target. Michael Paton was named as sponsors man-of-the-match, and taking into account the dreadful weather conditions, both teams served up a decent enough game in front of a crowd of 1523.
An equaliser for Livingston from McNulty
Having come from behind to take the lead, Queens will be disappointed at not taking all three points, but on reflection, neither side played well enough for long enough to deserve to win, so a draw was about right. So the 23rd competitive game at Palmerston in 2013 ended in a draw, a year that supplied us all with some excellent memories. Here`s to 2014, and many more happy memories following Queens.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year to all.