Queens and St. Mirren produced a cracking game of football in today`s Scottish Cup 4th round tie at Palmerston, and with both sides scoring twice, the game will now go to a replay in Paisley on December 10. After going behind twice, Queens rallied and forced their way back into the match and arguably could have gone on to win the game.
The Queens starting line-up showed three changes to the team that began against Raith last weekend, as Derek Young, Danny Carmichael, and Derek Lyle were replaced by Stephen McKenna, Paul Burns, and Michael Paton, whilst visitors St. Mirren, making their third appearance of the season at Palmerston, made just one change to the team that shared a scoreless draw with Hibernian last time out, as captain, Jim Goodwin returned in place of David Van Zanten. Since the teams clashed in the League cup back in August, both sides had won 4 times, although the visitors arrived in Dumfries having been beaten just once in their last 7 games and had the edge on current form statistics. Before kick-off a minutes silence was held in respect of the tragedy that happened in Glasgow last night, and the silence was impeccably observed by all in attendance.
With a few latecomers amongst the decent travelling support settling in, it was Queens attacking the Portland Drive end who got the first ever Scottish Cup meeting between the teams under way. Just a few minutes in and the visitors created a half chance down the left wing, but an angled drive from McGinn went well wide of the target. The Paisley side were having most of the possession in the opening phase of the game, without causing too much alarm for the Queens defence, and in fact slightly against the run of play, Queens might have had claims for an early penalty when Gavin Reilly chased a long clearance into the box, and under pressure Saints defender McAusland slipped and fell on to the ball. It would have been a soft decision to award a spot-kick, but on another day, who knows?
Reilly claims for the penalty from a McAusland hand ball
After 8 minutes, the visitors won the first corner of the game which eventually led to them opening the scoring. The set-piece from the left was floated in and found the head of McAusland, but Queens were back in numbers to block his effort for another corner. The second corner was headed away at the near post but only straight into the path of Newton standing just inside the penalty area, and the on-loan Newcastle midfielder found a precise finish to drive the ball into the bottom corner, scoring for the third time in four games. It was just the start that the Premiership side wanted, and boosted by the goal, and also by the promptings from midfield of both Newton, and McGowan, they began to control the game. Minutes after taking the lead, they had a chance to grab a second goal when Newton picked out McLean on the right, but his cross into the box was too far ahead of any of his team mates and Queens survived.
The early period of the game had been difficult for Queens, but they reacted well to going a goal behind and steadily grew into the game. They won their first corner after 16 minutes,and Ian McShane`s deep delivery was returned back into the box by Stephen McKenna, his cross just being a fraction too high for Iain Russell. Midway through the half, the visitors were forced to make a change, when McGowan was replaced by Reilly, and almost from that moment Queens became more of a threat going forward. A free-kick deep in his own half was knocked long by Chris Higgins and was met by Kevin Holt`s powerful jump, but his header fell nicely for Saints `keeper Kello to collect. Moments later as Queens broke away, Holt was once again at the centre of the action as this time after cutting inside, his well hit drive went straight at the `keeper. This was by far Queens best spell of the game, and a neat exchange of passes saw Russell set up a shooting chance for Paton whose shot from 20 yards was pushed away by Kello. The momentum was really with the home side as Burns, McKenna and McShane were now controlling the midfield areas, and with Paton, Russell, and Reilly finding plenty of space between the visitors defence, it seemed only a matter of time before Queens would draw level.
Michael Paton revelled in a forward role today
The first booking of the game arrived after half an hour when Russell was late on McLean, and the Queens player can have no dispute with the decision, and after shrugging off that minor indiscretion, the former Livingston man was once again at the centre of the action. Firstly, as Queens hit on the break a move involving Paton and McKenna ended with Russell`s low drive being comfortably held by Kello.Then immediately following that, a Queens corner was cleared to Mark Durnan just outside the area, and he set up a shooting chance for Russell that flew only a few yards wide. With ten minutes of the half remaining, Queens got the leveller that their play deserved, and that man Russell was once again in the thick of things. Queens were awarded a rather fortunate free-kick wide on the left. Ian McShane`s excellent delivery caused problems for the `keeper who flapped at the cross, and as the ball rolled out to Iain Russell, the striker drove the ball past Kello to give the game parity. The goal was certainly deserved by Queens, and although they continued in the ascendancy for the remainder of the half, the visitors defence stood firm and kept Queens at bay. In fact it was St. Mirren who had the last chance of the half, when following a free-kick on the left, a Thompson header from 6 yards out was headed well wide, as the sides ended the half on level terms.
Russell strikes his equaliser
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-1 ST.MIRREN
The second half began with Saints dominating the early proceedings, and after only 2 minutes they really should have regained the lead. A corner from the right was headed goalwards by McAusland, and although Queens `keeper Clark kept the ball out, he could only push it straight to Naismith but the full-back spurned a great opportunity by nudging the ball wide of the post. The visitors went close again soon afterwards when Durnan was penalised for a foul 25 yards out, and Saints captain Goodwin`s curled effort from the set-piece did not miss by very much. It seemed as though the interval had come at the wrong time for Queens as they struggled to find any rhythm in the opening minutes, and this was compounded on 51 minutes when the visitors did eventually re-take the lead with a very well worked goal. A flowing move down the Saints left involving Kelly and McGinn- the flicked pass to Kelly was delightful- led to the full- back driving in a tantalising low cross that was excellently turned in by Stephen Thompson at the near post.
Russell rounds Newton
Once again, Queens rallied and as they did in the first half, they reacted well to the setback, and slowly worked their way back into contention. A break down the right led by Paul Burns might have produced an almost instant response as his cross found it`s way to the back post, but Kevin Holt`s spectacular air kick was all that came from a promising move. The visitors then had Naismith cautioned for one too many fouls, this time pulling back Russell, and Paton went close after a foraging run into the area only ended when his cross was blocked away. Queens replaced Gavin Reilly with Derek Lyle after 67 minutes, and just four minutes later, the move of the game, produced the goal of the game as Queens once more found a deserved equaliser. The move began on the right and when the ball finally fell to Lyle his inch perfect chip into the area was headed back by Burns into the path of the onrushing Michael Paton who kept his composure to score from close range. Just as it had done in the first half the equaliser boosted Queens, and again they were now in control of the game. A second Saints player, was then cautioned as McGinn was penalised for having a couple of kicks at Burns, much to the annoyance of the Queens man who must have been very close to being booked himself after complaining strongly to the official, and minutes later Burns might have put Queens ahead when he latched on to a long clearance, but having reached the ball just ahead of the `keeper, he was off balance and could only send his effort well wide.
Michael Paton strikes the second equaliser
... and celebrates
With the clock ticking down another well worked move involving Mitchell,Lyle, and Burns created a chance for Paton, but the former Aberdeen man`s effort went just over the bar. The same player went close again with the next attack, but after easing past McAusland his angled drive went wide. Chris Mitchell then joined Russell, Naismith and McGinn in referee Clancy`s notebook, as the game moved into stoppage time. Neither side could manage to create anything more in the remaining few minutes, and so the match will now be replayed to decide which of the teams make the last 16 of the competition.
Very good travelling support from St. Mirren, and along with the rest in the crowd of 2176, helped to give the game the atmosphere it deserved. All in all a good advertisement for the Scottish Cup football.