Heart of Midlothian
1 - 2
Clark   Durnan Dowie Higgins   Kidd Burns Sub1 Millar Holt   Paton   1 Carmichael     Sub2 Lyle
Atkinson Mitchell Sub2-81 Russell Sub1-77 McKenna Slattery Hooper Pickard
Queens were left disappointed and frustrated at the end of their home Championship clash with runaway leaders Hearts at Palmerston this afternoon, as a deflected goal 5 minutes from full-time cost them what would have been an excellent point. Having taken the lead with a well worked goal after 25 minutes, Queens more than matched the league leaders for long spells of the first half, but when Hearts equalised following a rather harshly awarded free-kick, the team from the capital slowly took control of the game, and although Queens were never really outplayed they struggled to prevent Hearts` from eventually turning the game around. On another day, Queens might well have hung on to grab a point, but unfortunately today their 13th home league game of the season turned out to be unlucky.
With Gavin Reilly already being sidelined due to injury, there was a further blow for Queens when midfielder, Ian McShane, failed to make the matchday squad - ending a long run of 21 successive starts. The two enforced changes saw Mark Millar, and Danny Carmichael return to the starting line-up, as boss, James Fowler selected a 3-4-2-1 formation using Derek Lyle as the lone striker. Visitors Hearts, began the day with what appears to be an unassailable 20 point lead at the top of the Championship, and they looked to continue their excellent away form having not lost a league game away from Tynecastle all season. They made two changes to the team that started in their recent narrow 1-0 win over Livingston, with Gomis and King, replacing Anderson and Keatings.
Before kick-off Mark Durnan received recognition for making his 100th start for the club, achieving this feat in the recent cup game against St.Johnstone.
Mark Durnan receives a memento of his recent 100th appearance for Queens from Vice Chairman Craig Paterson
The hosts began well and with just four minutes on the clock Paul Burns tested `keeper Alexander and although he connected well with his strike, it was straight at the Hearts shot stopper who dealt with the effort comfortably. In an entertaining start to the game both teams seemed content to pass the ball around, and early on Queens looked very comfortable in possession and looked very capable of taking the game to their opponents. Good link up play between Michael Paton, and Danny Carmichael enabled the winger to fire in a first time cross that was aimed at Lyle, but again Alexander was able to save the striker`s effort easily. Queens next attack saw them win their first corner of the game. Lewis Kidd`s determined play won the set-piece, and with McShane missing, Mark Millar`s delivery found the onrushing Kevin Holt who was unlucky to see his powerful header blocked and then cleared as Hearts came under strong pressure for the first time in the match.
On fifteen minutes, Queens went close to opening the scoring. Following a corner on the left the ball was cleared out to Paton and his low shot was not far from finding the target. The visitors were neat and tidy in possession, but they were often guilty of being let down with their final pass, and Walker was the main culprit in the early stages as twice in quick succession his long passes forward were well over hit and easily defended under no pressure by the Queens rearguard. Walker was involved in the next piece of action when he saw his shot blocked by Durnan, result in the visitors first corner of the game. The corner came to nothing on this occasion, and as the game continued with both teams probing for the vital first goal, Queens responded by claiming their third corner of the game following a flowing move that started with Durnan`s long ball to Lyle, and ended with a cross from Kidd that forced Alexander into punching the ball behind for the set-piece. The corner was whipped in at pace to the near post where Chris Higgins` header was deflected over for yet another corner. This time Millar`s ball in was high and deep and Alexander claimed well ahead of both Durnan and Higgins.
The goal that Queens pressure deserved arrived after 24 minutes. Kidd and Lyle linked well down the right and when Kidd reached the penalty area he did well to pick out the unmarked Danny Carmichael at the far post who had the easy task of placing the ball into the net from close range. It was Carmichael`s first goal of the current season, and in fact his first since scoring against Arbroath back in January 2013 in a 5-1 win. The goal reflected Queens dominance at that stage, and they went very close to adding to their lead four minutes later. From a Hearts corner the ball broke to Gomis some 10-yards outside the penalty area, and the challenge from Michael Paton on the former Dundee United man saw him steal the ball from him and set off on a run towards goal. With defender Eckersley chasing hard to recover, Paton drifted slightly wider than he would have wished and as the Hearts player made the challenge Paton`s left foot drive across goal form just inside the Hearts box was in the end, comfortable enough for Alexander to deal with. That was a big opportunity for Queens, and minutes later the Championship`s top side made them pay as they drew level, although the goal that saw them equalise arrived in rather controversial circumstances. There seemed to be nothing in a challenge that Chris Higgins made midway inside his own half near the left touchline, but referee Anderson thought differently and awarded Hearts a free kick. From the short set-piece, Patterson was sent racing clear down the wing and his cross picked out King who swept the ball home on the half volley. Fierce protests from the Queens players followed and that resulted in Paton being booked for dissent, but the goal stood and Hearts were now well and truly back in the contest.
Carmichael finishes well to open the scoring for the home side
Holt congratulates Carmichael on his goal
King nets the equaliser
That goal changed the complexion of the game as Hearts began to assume control and they ended the half having their best spell of the game. Paterson was the main outlet on the right and on several occasions he was able to deliver some teasing crosses into the danger area, fortunately Zander Clark and his defence were under no real threat as Hearts missed the ariel ability of the injured Osman Sow. The visitors almost capitalised on a defensive error by Queens when Burns and Carmichael were caught out, but thankfully Dowie`s interception and Clark`s alertness prevented Zeefuik from inflicting any further damage. Just before the interval Walker and the impressive Pallardo exchanged passes and as Walker raced through the home defence, only a deflection on his shot stopped him from putting the visitors ahead. The final chance of the half also went the way of the visitors when Wilson`s accurate long ball found Eckersley in acres of space down the left, and although his cross was blocked away for a corner, the poorly delivered set-piece by goalscorer King saw a promising situation quickly disappear.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-1 HEARTS
The visitors made a change at the start of the 2nd period with Prince Buaben being replaced by Kenny Anderson, the midfielder had been suffering from a knock he took early in the game which obviously he was unable to shake off. Queens had an injury scare of their own shortly after the re-start when Lewis Kidd went down in a heap following a clash in the centre circle, fortunately there was no lasting damage and he was able to continue. Defender Ozturk almost found Terregles Street with the first shot of the half, and as the away side stepped up the pressure, two breaks in quick succession down the right involving the lively Patterson had the Queens defence stretched to the limit to repel the attacks. Following a corner Wilson powered a header over the bar, and then in their next attack a shot from King was blocked as Hearts searched for the goal that would give them the lead.
Queens had struggled to get going at the start of the half and with Hearts pushing much further forward, the midfield area was becoming increasingly more dominated by the visitors. The home side it seemed would have to rely on the counter attack and Danny Carmichael might have broken clear with a run on goal had he not been tripped from behind by Gomis, the foul resulting in the Hearts play-maker being cautioned by referee Anderson. Just after the hour mark a low shot from Millar skimmed past the post following a good move involving Paton and Lyle. For several minutes mid-way through the second-half, Queens did manage to break forward a couple of times, and on one such occasion Holt`s progress was curtailed by a rather crude tackle from Patterson, a challenge that also saw him enter referee Anderson`s notebook.
Millar tries a shot from distance
With Queens being continually pushed further and further back, they offered little in the way of attacks, and but for that brief spell, Queens spent much of the half trying to keep Hearts at bay. Gomis tested Clark from distance, and then Zeefuik went close with a shot on the turn that beat Clark and thankfully for the Queens fans in the crowd of 5100, also beat the far post. As the away side continued to pose more threats for the Queens rearguard, Mark Durnan reacted well to head a dangerous cross over the bar, and from the resulting corner, Hearts` skipper Wilson headed over when he really should have done better.
Mark Millar became the second Queens player to be booked, following a foul on Pallardo, and King went close minutes later when his deflected shot spun just wide of the target. Queens made their first change with fourteen minutes to go as Stephen McKenna replaced Millar, and then Ozturk collected a booking for bringing down Carmichael as the winger`s tricky footwork outsmarted the big defender.The free-kick was floated in by Paton and was deflected out of play for another Queens corner, but Andy Dowie who met Carmichael`s cross , was not able to find enough power to trouble Alexander. Derek Lyle had found the going tough playing as the lone striker against a well marshalled strong Hearts defence, and he made way for Iain Russell with ten minutes of the game left.
With the game appearing to be moving towards a draw, Hearts had a real stroke of fortune as they scored the goal that would go on to win them the game. Eighty-three minutes had been played when Eckersley made a tremendous break down the left hand side before delivering a cross in towards Zeefuik, the big centre forward mis-hit a shot goalwards that deflected off of the unfortunate Chris Higgins and spun agonisingly over the goal-line and beyond the despairing hands of Zander Clark.
Lots of luck as a cruel deflection hands the game to Hearts
It was a devastating blow for Queens who had been able to cope with pretty much everything that had been thrown at them by Hearts, and with so little time to react, they could have been forgiven for giving up. Instead they launched a brave effort to try and get something from the game and following three minutes of constant pressure via a succession of corners and free-kicks, right at the end, they could have snatched a dramatic equaliser. Michael Paton was replaced by Jake Pickard for the final few minutes, and from a Corner on the left, and with everyone -including Zander Clark - inside the Hearts penalty box, Danny Carmichael`s pinpoint cross to the far post picked out the head of Clark, but the Queens `keeper who rose high above the Hearts defence but could not keep his header on target.
Clark comes close to an heroic equaliser
The final whistle sounded almost immediately after and was greeted by huge cheers of delight from the massed ranks of visiting Hearts fans. Defender Mark Durnan was named by the sponsors as their choice for man-of-the-match, and in what was a hard one for Queens to take, the spirited display was warmly acknowledged by the home fans as they knew that their team had gone very close to claiming what would have been a well deserved point.