Queens returned to winning ways this afternoon as a comfortable 3-1 victory over Alloa gave them their first win of 2014. After an even start to the game, Queens scored twice in the space of four minutes to take a half-time lead, and although both sides found the net after the break, Queens might have recorded an even bigger margin of victory had it not been for visiting `keeper, Scott Bain, whose performance kept the scoreline respectable.
Following last weekend`s defeat at Hamilton, the Queens line-up showed two changes to the team that started at New Douglas Park, with Andy Dowie and Kevin Dzierzawski being replaced by Kevin Holt and Gavin Reilly as they switched to an attacking 4-4-2 formation. Alloa boss Paul Hartley boosted his squad with the loan signing of Ross Caldwell yesterday, and the 20-year old Hibernian striker went straight into the squad as the visitors looked to end a run of 3 games without a goal.
Queens got the game under way, and won their first corner of the contest after just 45 seconds following good work down the right wing, but Chris Mitchell`s delivery was well defended as Alloa cleared the danger under no pressure. With both teams looking to force the issue in the opening stages, the visitors created a half chance, but after collecting a loose ball in midfield, McCord`s shot from distance flew harmlessly wide. Most of Queens attacking play in the early stages was going down the right, and Paul Burns, and Mitchell combined well to provide a cross for Iain Russell at the far post, however, closely marked the in-form striker could not generate enough power in his header, and `keeper Bain saved comfortably. Minutes later and again Queens attacked down the right, this time Michael Paton and Stephen McKenna linked well before McKenna`s deep cross to the far post found the head of Kevin Holt who like Russell earlier was unable to direct his header past the `keeper. After 18 minutes, Queens almost found the breakthrough. A superb through ball from McKenna played in Kevin Holt just inside the penalty area, but the full back dragged his effort wide of the post when well positioned. The first yellow card of the game was shown to Stephen McKenna, for dissent, and following that, Alloa, who hadn`t really threatened at all, created a couple of openings as shots from Caddis and then Cawley were not too far wide of the target.
Queens responded well, and a shot from Paton from the edge of the box flashed inches past the post after good work from Burns had set him up, and moments later, the hosts came agonisingly close to taking the lead when Gavin Reilly`s shot from a tight angle brushed past the far upright. With Queens getting closer, and continuing to have more of the ball, it came as no surprise when they took the lead on the half hour. After Paton had collected the ball midway inside the Alloa half, he played the ball through to Paul Burns, and the midfielder`s clever back heeled return pass was thumped past Bain from 12- yards by Michael Paton, who scored at Palmerston for the 2nd game in a row. The confidence began to flow through the team, and boosted by the goal, the home side began to increase the pressure on the visitors and they almost doubled their lead two minutes later. Iain Russell was fouled 25-yards from goal, and a quickly taken free-kick by Burns found the unmarked Derek Lyle through on goal, but his powerful drive was tipped over the bar by the `keeper Bain, and from the resulting corner, a shot from Chris Higgins was blocked away as Queens again went close. The second goal was coming, and once again the initial move that led to it began down the right. Paton and Mitchell exchanged passes and after creating space for the cross, Paton delivered a superb ball into the box for Gavin Reilly who after controlling the ball on his chest, swivelled and smashed a ferocious half volley past the `keeper.
Paton strikes the first goal
Paton is congratulated by Russell
Swivel, shoot, goal - for Reilly
High tens for Reilly
Five minutes before the interval, Paul Burns joined colleague McKenna in the referee`s notebook, as his late challenge on Cawley was punished, and following the free-kick Zander Clark made an awkward save from Kirk, but reacted well to punch the ball clear. The visitors won their first corner of the game right on the stroke of half-time, although Queens were able to defend the set-piece easily, and as the whistle sounded for the break, it was the majority in the crowd of 1476 that felt the happiest. Not a vintage first 45, but Queens looked very comfortable, and it wasn`t too hard to see why Alloa are currently finding goals hard to come by.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 2-0 ALLOA
The better start to the half was made by the visitors, and a shot after just a minute was deflected for a corner that resulted in a header from Marr going very close to getting his side back into the contest. The Queens response was instant, and a swift counter attack involving Paton, Lyle and Holt down the left saw the full back cut inside before playing a pass into Burns whose attempt from just outside the box was not far away from finding the target. Alloa boss, Paul Hartley,introduced on-loan Hibs youngster, Ross Caldwell into the game early in the half as his team continued to struggle up front. However, within a minute of his introduction, his side fell further behind when the move of the match produced a third Queens goal. After winning possession in midfield Stephen McKenna`s pass sent Holt on a run towards goal, and in turn he found Russell wide on the left. The former Livingston man got to the bye-line before picking out a perfect cross for Derek Lyle to cap an excellent move by providing a precise finish from close range.
Lyle slips the ball past Bain for the third of the day
Three nil ahead after an hour`s play had Queens well and truly in the driving seat, although Alloa showed that the game was not done and dusted when a shot from distance produced a decent save from Clark as he pushed a shot from Caddis away for a corner, and just three minutes later, they did indeed pull a goal back. A cross from the right by Gordon was neatly directed past Clark by Caldwell as the youngster showed his Premier League pedigree.There seemed to be a little bit of nervousness creeping into Queens` play, and for a few minutes, Alloa had the better spell, and with a bit more composure, the young Hibs player might have done better than hit his shot high over the bar from a good position.
Queens replaced Iain Russell with Danny Carmichael after 69 minutes, and the tricky winger combined well with Lyle to create a half chance for Reilly at the far post, but the final ball was slightly over hit and the chance was gone. Following a Queens corner after 77 minutes both Mark Durnan, and Caddis required treatment for a clash of heads, although thankfully both players recovered, with Durnan needing to leave the field momentarily for running repairs. With ten minutes left, Gavin Reilly almost crowned a super performance with his second goal, but after latching on to a pass from Paton and beating the last defender, his shot across goal was very well saved by the agile Bain. Queens made a second change as Derek Lyle was replaced by Ryan McGuffie, and less than a minute after coming on, the defender was shown a yellow card for what was deemed to be a foul challenge on Meggat.
Alloa boss, Paul Hartley, was the next person to fall foul of the referee after complaining that Queens did not kick the ball out so that an Alloa player could receive treatment, silly really as Alloa had the chance to put the ball out themselves but chose to continue with their attack. With the final whistle approaching, Queens had one more chance to add a fourth goal as McGuffie attacked down the left and then slipped a perfectly weighted pass inside to Carmichael, but `keeper Bain once again produced another fine save to deny Carmichael from scoring what would have been his first goal of the season.
So a first win of 2014 for Queens turned out to be pretty comfortable in the end, as they scored 3 goals in a home league game for the first time since the opening day win over Dundee. Sponsors gave their man-of-the-match award to Gavin Reilly, and the result consolidates the league position, but with a game in hand, another couple of wins could see Queens make a more significant move up the table.