There will be a new name etched on to the Ramsdens Cup this season after holders Queens were sent tumbling out of the competition after being beaten 3-0 by Rangers at a packed Palmerston Park . After losing an early goal the cup holders were still in with a chance until late in the game when they lost skipper Chris Higgins after a second caution, and 2 further goals as the Ibrox side moved into the semi-finals of the competition.The defeat was the first time that Queens had been beaten by lower league opposition since they were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Brechin back in January 2011.
Following Saturday`s home defeat by Raith, Queens boss, Jim McIntyre, had to make one enforced change to the line-up that began that game as defender Mark Durnan`s red card meant that he missed out, and the manager also made further changes as Chris Mitchell, and Danny Carmichael were replaced by Ian McShane, and Michael Paton, as Queens reverted to a 4-1-2-3 formation. Visitors Rangers fielded an extremely strong team and included former Queens favourite, Nicky Clark making his return to Palmerston, although he had to be content with a place on the bench. Having won their last 6 games in all competitions, and scoring 25 goals in the process, Rangers began the game as firm favourites, although it was Queens who started better and created the first chance of the game. Having been awarded a free-kick midway inside the Rangers half, Ian McShane`s delivery to the far post found it`s way to an unmarked Michael Paton, but his goal bound header was cleared to safety by Smith.
Paton heads toward goal
Having survived that early scare, Rangers, in their first meaningful attack, opened the scoring on 7 minutes. After winning their first corner of the game, Peralta`s cross was headed back across goal to the far post where Bilel Mohsni bundled the ball into the net from a yard out giving the away side a perfect start. The goal was the first that Queens had conceded in their defence of the Ramsdens Cup, and for the next few minutes or so, they struggled to come to terms with the loss. However, as the game continued, it was the home side that began to look the more sharper and determined. An optimistic attempt from distance by Derek Lyle was always going wide of the target, whilst at the other end, Peralta`s effort was well saved by Calum Antell.
Mohsni knocks it home at the far post
On 18 minutes, Queens should have equalised. A corner was flicked on to Lyle by Dowie, but after a mix up between McGuffie and Lyle, the striker could only scoop a shot over from 12 yards out. The away side then launched a quick counter attack that ended with Jon Daly smashing a volley inches over the bar after he latched on to a superb diagonal pass from Smith. A fantastic attempt by Daly that almost produced a stunning goal. Queens were certainly handling the surface much better than their opponents, and as they continued to have the better of the possession, they had another really good opportunity to draw level. Rangers `keeper, Cammy Bell was caught in possession by Iain Russell, following a poor back pass, and as the striker rolled the ball into the path of Lyle some 8 yards from goal and with the home fans getting ready to acclaim an equaliser, Mohsni reacted well to block Lyle`s effort. The first caution of the game went to Peralta for a foul on Russell, and Paton`s effort from the set-piece just failed to dip in time and glanced the roof of the net as it went over.There were big appeals by the Queens players for hand ball, and skipper, Chris Higgins was booked for protesting too strongly to referee Murray. Minutes later, Queens were appealing for a penalty again, and once more Mohsni was the player involved as the ball did appear to strike his arm following a cross from the left, but again the referee waved play on.
An early hand ball claim but the referee was unsighted
With half an hour gone, a cross from Paton was met by Lyle`s firm header, but Bell was able to save comfortably. There was no doubt that after going behind, Queens had rallied well, and had created the better of the chances, but just before the interval, the visitors had two really good chances to double their lead. Firstly a stinging drive from Crawford was only just off target, and then after breaking from midfield and with no Queens player making a challenge, Nicky Law curled a low shot inches wide of the far post. A second goal at that point would have been unfair on Queens, and after putting Rangers on the back foot for large parts of the first period, they were unfortunate to be behind at the break.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-1 RANGERS
The second half began with Queens attacking a packed Portland Drive end of the ground, and it was the home fans in the crowd of 6155 who were making the most noise as the half got under way. After exchanging passes with Derek Young wide on the right, Ian McShane was not so far away from giving Queens the perfect start to the half as his fierce low drive from a very tight angle whistled inches past the far post with `keeper Bell well beaten. With the game starting to become a little more stretched, and with both teams knowing the importance of the next goal, the play became a bit scrappy for a spell with the ball spending a lot of time being given away by both sets of players.
Queens made their first change of the game after 58 minutes when Kevin Dzierzawski replaced Stephen McKenna, who appeared to have taken a knock. Rangers were next to attack, and a good purposeful run by Little ended with his shot being blocked away for a corner, that Queens were able to deal with comfortably. For all the forward play that they put together, Queens were just not able to find their way through a resolute Rangers defence, and `keeper Bell was hardly tested at all through the 2nd period. With 20 minutes left, Gavin Reilly replaced Ian McShane, who had given a pretty decent performance, as the home side switched to a 4-4-2 formation.
Peralta takes Dzierzawski by the throat
However, the game turned for the worse for Queens in the 75th minute when they lost both a player, and a goal. Chris Higgins clattered into Smith on the left touchline, and referee Murray deemed the challenge to be unfair, and the Queens skipper, booked earlier in the game, received his second yellow card. If that was not harsh enough on Queens, seconds later from the resulting free-kick, Rangers doubled their lead. Law`s excellent delivery being met by Daly who powered home a header as he escaped his marker to finish well. For the first time in the game, Rangers could relax, and two goals ahead, and a man up, they finally began to assert themselves, and but for some excellent saves from Antell, they would have won more convincingly.
Daly heads home the second
Former Queens favourite, Nicky Clark made an appearance from the bench with 10 minutes to go, and then Rangers wrapped the game up with a third goal from a set-piece when Lee McCulloch headed home from a Crawford corner. The two late goals were harsh on Queens, and had they managed to find an equaliser when they were on top in the first half, the result might have been different. However, after losing a man, and then a goal all in the space of a minute, the game, and the Ramsdens cup were gone.
A brave effort from Queens, although fortune was not with them on this occasion, and it`s the cup favourites who will progress to the semi-finals of the competition.
It was good to see the Terregles Street end in use again tonight