Queens saw their recent unbeaten run come to a disappointing end this afternoon, as league leaders Dundee left Palmerston with all 3 points courtesy of a penalty from one time Queens man, Ryan Conroy. The winning goal arrived on the stroke of half-time, and to make matters worse for the hosts,`keeper Jim Atkinson who was penalised for bringing down Dundee striker Martin Boyle to concede the penalty, was red-carded meaning that Queens were forced to play out the entire second-half with 10 men, and although they had a couple of really good chances to get back into the game, in the end, they were just not able to find the equaliser.
After last Saturday`s 2-0 victory ended Falkirk`s impressive run, Queens boss, Jim McIntyre, made 2 changes to the team that started against the Bairns. Last week`s match winner, Gavin Reilly, got the nod upfront ahead of former Dundee player, Derek Lyle, and with midfielder Paul Burns missing out due to suspension his place in midfield went to recent signing, Mark Kerr, who made his full Queens debut.. Both Chris Higgins, and Iain Russell, available after suspension, took their place on the bench.There was also a welcome return for Derek Young who featured in the match day squad for the first time since Queens lost at Kirkcaldy back in November last year. Visitors Dundee, who returned to the top of the table thanks to their win over Hamilton-and Queens` victory over Falkirk-arrived at Palmerston having taken just 4 points from their last 4 games. Results from the previous four games between the sides at Palmerston had favoured Queens with the home side claiming two wins and two draws, and new man in charge at Dens, Paul Hartley, was hoping to end that run as he faced his first away game in charge.
The game, much like last weekend`s, kicked off in less than favourable conditions weather wise, as once again a swirling wind made life difficult for the players. Queens began with a slight change to their usual formation, as they lined up in a 4-1-2-1-2 option with Kerr sitting a bit deeper than the midfield two of McShane, and McKenna., as once again, Queens attacked the Portland Drive end of the ground in the opening half. The home side began brightly, and in the opening exchanges were the better side as they looked to get at the visitors defence by attacking down either flank. In their first purposeful attack a long diagonal ball from Andy Dowie released Kevin Holt on the left, and after controlling and then crossing well, the full-back`s ball into the box caused problems for `keeper Letheren as he was challenged by McHugh, but the ball broke the way of the visitors and they were able to clear. As Queens continued to take the game to Dundee, an excellent ball from Kerr sent Gavin Reilly clear on the right, but after using his pace to get to the bye-line, he failed to find enough accuracy on his cross, although a slight deflection worked in Queens favour as they won their first corner of the game. As is usual, Chris Mitchell was on set-piece duty, but on this occasion his deep cross to the back post was easily defended.
The visitors had hardly been able to get out of their own half in the early stages, probably due to a combination of Queens pressing, and the wind that was swirling around, but the lively looking Martin Boyle looked very dangerous on the occasions when he was on the ball, and it was the former Montrose striker who was involved in Dundee`s first half chance. A challenge on Boyle by Mark Durnan was penalised and gave the visitors a chance from a set-piece, but from 25-yards out, MacDonald`s shot went straight into the Queens defensive wall and the opportunity was gone. As the half reached it`s midway point, the league leaders slowly started to gain more control of the game, at least possession wise, although to be fair most of the game was being played in the midfield area and clear cut chances were few and far between.
A quick Queens break down the right saw a cross from McKenna being blocked away for a second corner of the game as they tried to find the breakthrough. However, after winning the corner, Queens almost shot themselves in the foot as Dundee went close to taking the lead. With most of the Queens defenders forward for the corner, a short, training ground set-piece went totally wrong as Mitchell and Paton contrived to give the ball away, and on the break the pacey Boyle worked a shooting chance for McAlister, but fortunately for Queens there were enough covering defenders back to deal with the danger. The best chance of the half was created by Dundee after 28 minutes. A move down their left created an opening for Dyer, but his shot from the angle just inside the penalty box flew across goal only just missing the far post. The home side`s response was instant and a decent attempt from Ian McShane on the half-volley from just outside the box was well held by `keeper Letheren.
Reilly feeds McHugh
Five minutes from the break, loan signing Bob McHugh, did well to get on the end of his own flick down by the bye-line on the left, and his cross to the far post fell kindly for McKenna, but caught in two minds, the Queens captain could only send the ball looping back across goal and out for a goal kick. A mistake in midfield led to the first yellow card of the game, as Andy Dowie lost possession to Boyle, and after trying to reclaim the ball, his challenge from behind was rightly penalised. With the half-time whistle only seconds away, what turned out to be the game`s defining moment arrived. A long ball over the top of the Queens defence from Rae was seized upon by Boyle, and as the striker raced into the penalty area he slipped the ball past Jim Atkinson who unfortunately collided with the Dundee striker, it appeared to be a straight forward collision between the two players, but referee Cook decided otherwise and pointed to the penalty spot.Worse was to follow for the young Queens `keeper as the official flashed a red card in his direction, and Queens were down to 10-men. Calum Antell replaced Atkinson, with Bob McHugh the unfortunate player forced to give way. Former Queens man, Ryan Conroy was the man trusted to give his side the advantage, and although Antell guessed correctly and got the faintest of touches to the ball, the penalty was well placed and found the corner of the net to put the league leaders ahead.
Everyone is shocked by the penalty decision
Former Queens loanee Conroy beats Antell - but only just
There was barely time for the game to re-start, as the referee brought the half to an end, and as the players left for the break, it was the visitors who had a spring in their step after gaining the upper hand right at the end of the half. Disappointment for most of the crowd of 2152, as only a somewhat questionable penalty decision was the difference between the two sides, in what had been a closely contested first 45 minutes.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-1 DUNDEE
The second half began with Queens starting with Gavin Reilly playing upfront on his own ahead of 2 solid banks of four as they looked to find a way back into the game, but as you would expect, Dundee dominated the early part of half thanks to the extra man advantage. The first half chance of the 2nd period fell to the very impressive Boyle as he collected a pass from MacDonald, but his strike from the right hand side of the box flew well wide of the target. The same player was involved in the action moments later, MacDonald being the provider once again, and after slipping the ball past the advancing Antell, he watched as his shot slipped narrowly past the near upright.
Dundee had begun the half well, but for all their possession, those two half chances were all they had to show for their control of the game, and slowly, Queens began to drag themselves back into the game. Queens made a double change after 51 minutes, leading scorer, Iain Russell replaced McShane, and Derek Lyle came on for Reilly, and within minutes of his introduction, Russell was involved in the action, although unfortunately for him he earned himself a booking for dissent after disputing a decision made by referee Cook. The visitors might well have doubled their lead just short of the hour mark when Boyle skipped past Durnan before cutting the ball back to the well placed McAlister, but he miskicked the ball and the chance was gone. As Queens continued to look for the opportunity that might get them back into the game, after 61 minutes the visitors handed them the chance to do so. A poor pass out of defence by Benedictus was intercepted by Paton, and the Queens man played a well weighted pass that split the defence and fell nicely into the path of Lyle. However with only the `keeper to beat, the former Dundee striker spurned the chance to draw his side level when he allowed `keeper Letheren the chance to block his shot away for a corner. The chance was by far the best that Queens had created in the match, and just minutes later, the home side went even closer to levelling the game when following a left wing Mitchell corner, Russell pounced on a loose ball 6-yards out and crashed a shot against the underside of the crossbar. It was cruel luck for Queens, who at that point in the game were well on top and were showing no signs of being a man short.
Lyle one-on-one but Letheren blocks for a corner
The third booking of the game went to Dundee`s Irvine for a late challenge on Russell, and minutes later substitute Nade almost made sure of the win for the league leaders, when after collecting a loose ball 30- yards from goal he hit a wonderful drive that smashed against the far post as Calum Antell looked on. The Queens shot stopper was involved in the next piece of action, as he produced a good save to thwart the ever dangerous Boyle.Then as the game moved towards it`s conclusion, Queens had one final opportunity to take something from the game. A fine passing move that began at the back eventually led to Queens winning another corner, and from Mitchell`s delivery, Dowie rose well to meet the ball with a firm header, but Letheren was equal to his effort and finger tipped the ball over the bar. The resulting corner was well defended by the well organised Dundee defence, and as the whistle sounded the biggest roar came from the sizeable travelling support as they acclaimed their side`s hard fought victory.
McIntyre considers his next move
Sponsors gave their man-of-the-match award to centre-back Mark Durnan, on an afternoon when only a single shot from 12-yards out was enough to split the sides. A credible effort from Queens, especially in the second period when down to 10- men as for a big part of the half, it was hard to tell that they were a man short such was the effort of all the players.