Queens and Hamilton shared the points at Palmerston in this afternoon`s Championship clash as the home side recovered from going a goal behind to fight back and take a well deserved point from the game. Visitors Hamilton opened the scoring after 56 minutes, but Queens drew level 7 minutes later when Gavin Reilly was on target for the second game in a row. Both sides created chances to claim all three points, but in the end, a draw was probably just about right and was enough to enable Hamilton to move level with Dundee at the top of the Championship table, although Dundee remain ahead on goal difference.
Following last weekend`s 3-1 win over Dumbarton, not surprisingly, Queens named the same starting line-up, and the only change on the substitutes bench saw Michael Paton return to the squad in place of Derek Young.Visitors Hamilton started the day just a point off of the lead, and after a `mini wobble` that saw them go 4 games without a win, a return to form in recent weeks had seen them record 3 consecutive wins and they arrived in Dumfries looking to equal their seasons best run of four league wins in a row.
The fourth and final league meeting of the teams this season began rather slowly with the visitors having most of the possession, but ultimately they struggled to cause any problems for the Queens defence as they were unable to find a decent final ball. Queens found passing a problem in the opening stages, as far too often they gave the ball away cheaply, with many attempted passes being both over hit and lacking in direction. It did appear that the wind was having some effect on the game as on a few occasions clearances caught on the breeze and caused one or two problems, but as the game settled and opened up both sides created chances. It was the home side who were first to go close on 14 minutes when Paul Burns` pass sent Gavin Reilly clear, but after successfully rounding `keeper Cuthbert, and with the angle narrowing all the time, the young striker`s effort clipped the near post and the chance had gone. Queens created another half chance a few minutes later when Burns, Chris Mitchell and Reilly combined well down the right before Reilly`s cross to the far post almost picked out Iain Russell, whilst at the other end, Hamilton went close after some neat footwork from Andreu created a shooting opportunity for himself, and his drive from 25-yards was well tipped over by Zander Clark resulting in the game`s first corner kick. The set-piece was only half cleared, but Canning`s tame effort from 10-yards out drifted well wide of the target.
Reilly rounds Cuthbert his his angle was just too tight
Clark makes a super stop from an Andreu 25 yard effort
Queens then found themselves momentarily having to play with 10 men after an accidental clash between Bob McHugh, and Hamilton`s Gillespie, saw the on loan Motherwell striker have to leave the field to receive treatment, but fortunately for Queens, most of the play in his 2 minute absence took place in the midfield area. Queens attacked again, and once more Reilly was at the heart of the move as he latched on to Mark Kerr`s excellent first time pass to get ahead of the defence before crossing low to the back post where leading scorer Russell was waiting,but his control was poor, and a good chance had gone.
Shortly before the interval, Queens had a really good chance to break the deadlock. A first time pass from Burns sent Russell breaking clear down the left and after outpacing his marker, the striker hit a fierce drive that crashed against the angle of post and bar with the `keeper well beaten, and as the ball bounced back into play, McHugh reacted quickly enough to send a header goal wards, but he was unable to keep his effort down and the ball flew over the bar. It was a difficult chance to take as the ball came back at pace, but it was certainly a good opportunity for Queens to have taken the lead. An even first half concluded with Queens having hit the woodwork twice, and on clear cut chances, they would probably have been slightly aggrieved at not being ahead at the break.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 HAMILTON ACCIES
The start of the second period saw the visitors take the game to Queens, and Zander Clark did well to keep out a shot from Keatings, whilst minutes later another drive from Crawford went narrowly past the post as the `Accies` made a very bright start to the half. With Queens being forced back, the continued pressure from the visitors made it seem as though a goal was not far away, and a mistake by Mark Durnan almost provided them with the breakthrough, but his sliced mis-placed pass ran safely through to Clark as Keatings waited to pounce. The game`s first caution went to Gillespie for a foul on Russell after 51 minutes, but Queens were unable to profit from the free-kick, as Clark`s delivery from the middle of his own half was hit too long and drifted out of play.
The goal that Hamilton had been threatening to score arrived on 56 minutes, as skipper Martin Canning was in the right place to head home a corner from Keatings. The visitors were certainly boosted by the goal, and a long ball from defence caused panic in the home defence as it fell between both Andy Dowie and Mark Durnan, and as Scotland looked to benefit, Durnan`s foul on the `Accies` striker saw him become the second player to be shown a yellow card by referee McKendrick. However, from what looked like a promising situation for the visitors, they contrived to waste the opportunity as firstly Andreu`s attempt went straight into the wall, and then Crawford`s effort from the rebound went high over the crossbar.
Queens players appeal but the referee gives the goal
Quick thinking from Chris Mitchell gave Iain Russell a half chance minutes later, a long free-kick from the full back released the Queens striker, but his attempted lob went well over the bar. Queens made their first change on 61 minutes when Danny Carmichael replaced Ian McShane, and less than a minute later, Queens had drawn level. A ball in from the left into the area bounced over the head of both Canning and Carmichael and fell nicely for Gavin Reilly who smashed the ball home from 10-yards to score his 9th goal of the campaign.
Reilly celebrates his strike with Mark Kerr
The goal really sparked the game into life, and for the final half an hour or so, both teams went looking for a winning goal, and the crowd of 1703 were treated to some end to end attacking play that could have resulted in either team claiming all three points.Queens made a further change after 69 minutes as Bob McHugh was replaced by Derek Lyle, and the former Hamilton player-who has a habit of scoring against his former teams-showed good close control before trying a speculative effort from just outside the area that wasn`t so far away. Lyle and Reilly were linking up well and the two combined to win a corner on the right, but unusually for him, Mitchell`s delivery was badly executed and Hamilton cleared their lines with ease. The final booking of the game saw Garcia Tena cautioned for a cynical challenge on Reilly as the striker looked to break clear. As Queens continued to search for the winner Lyle and Carmichael linked well to set up a chance for Burns, and the midfielder came very close to getting his name on the score sheet as his left foot drive missed the target by a fraction.
The introduction of Lyle gave Queens a bit more presence in the air, and following an excellent cross from Burns, Lyle headed the ball into the path of Russell, but he could only direct a header of his own straight at Cuthbert. The visitors then created a half chance for themselves, however Andreu`s attempt to score for the 6th time in seven games, never troubled Clark. Seven minutes from time it looked as though Queens had finally turned the game around as Lyle played in Russell down the left and his first time cross was met by a glancing header from Reilly that looked to be destined for the bottom corner, however, `Accies` `keeper Cuthbert produced a brilliant one-handed save to keep his side level. Moments later and it was the visitors and their fans who thought that they had claimed the winner when a header goal wards flicked off of Dowie and was only just pushed away by Zander Clark. The Queens number one then produced an even better save as the game moved into stoppage time as he reacted brilliantly to tip over substitute Antoine-Curier`s point blank header to make sure that Queens were not to be denied a well earned point at the end.
Gav sends a header in that looked a goal all the way until Cuthbert pulled off a great save
The draw was probably the right outcome, although both teams will think that they could have won, but I expect that at start of play both Managers would have been happy to take a point. Paul Burns was chosen as sponsors man-of-the-match, with the point keeping Queens sitting in the final play-off position ahead of both Livingston and Dumbarton, and with games coming up against Alloa, and then Cowdenbeath, Queens certainly have a big chance to consolidate that much coveted play-off spot.