Queens followed up Saturdays victory over Queens Park with another win in the newly formed Betfred league cup as they defeated Airdie by the same two - nil scoreline at Palmerston tonight.. The win helped Queens consolidate their position as Group E leaders,and following a convincing first forty-five minutes in which they scored twice and could have easily scored as many more, the home side were largely untroubled and saw out the game comfortably.
With a run of 3 games in 8 days it was quite surprising that Queens boss, Gavin Skelton, limited his selection changes to just the one with the inclusion of Derek Lyle starting ahead of Steven Rigg being the only change to the one that kicked-off against Queens Park. Visitors Airdrie included former Queens players Ryan Conroy, and Iain Russell, and for once, Russell failed to find the net against Queens which must go down as something of a surprise!!!
The first competitive home game of the season was also the chance for many fans to see the new additions to the squad, and all were included as Queens lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Jamie Hamill, Grant Anderson, and Lyndon Dykes all started the game, whilst the returning Lee Robinson lined up between the posts.
Before the kick-off both sets of players and fans stood in silence to respect a minutes silence for former Queens player, Chris Mitchell, whose life ended so tragically.
In memory of Chris Mitchell
The home side almost got off to the perfect start when Dykes found the ball at his feet some 10-yards from goal, but his scuffed attempt was comfortably held by Airdrie keeper Ferguson. Having settled slightly better, the away side might have opened the scoring themselves after some tidy play involving the two former Queens players, but from Russell`s clever pull back,McLaughlin`s effort was well off target.
The opening goal was not long in coming and when it arrived on 9 minutes it gave all the momentum to Queens. Dale Hilson found Anderson wide on the right and the former Raith man delivered a cross of pin-point accuracy that was guided home by the head of Derek Lyle giving the striker the honour of scoring the first home goal for season 2016-17.
Lyle heads home
As the game progressed the home side assumed almost total control and with Jamie Hamill and Grant Anderson combining well, they racked up several chances to add to their lead. An Anderson cross caused panic in the visiting defence and although Hilson was unable to capitalise, Queens looked likely to score almost every time they attacked. They went close again on 17 minutes when Hilson`s pass to Hamill set up another crossing opportunity, but the cross was a fraction to close to the `keeper who took the ball only just ahead of Anderson`s jump.The visitors should probably have drawn level when Faria headed straight at Robinson from a corner, and from almost being level, they paid the price minutes later.
The second goal was coming and after 24 minutes Queens doubled their advantage and what a well worked goal it was. Hamill and Callum Tapping exchanged passes before releasing Jake Pickard and just as it seemed as though the youngster was running out of pitch he delivered the ball to the near post where Derek Lyle was on hand to flick the ball home from the tightest of angles. There was some debate whether or not Lyle had reached the ball before Airdrie defender Gorman, but for me, it`s another one towards that magic total of 100 Queens goals for Lyle.
Lyle watches the ball cross the line and his goal tally increase
Airdrie hadn`t posed too many problems for Queens during the opening 30 minutes or so, and a strong, solid challenge from Andy Dowie put a halt to Ryan breaking beyond the home defence as the away side tried to find a way into the game.Moments later Queens could have really put the game to bed when they went close again. Tapping found Dykes and although his shot was blocked, the ball was delivered to the far post where the unmarked Anderson crashed a drive into the side netting.Further chances came and went as Anderson and then Lyle tried their luck.
The impressive wing play of Lyndon Dykes on the left was pleasing and on several occasions only the final ball let him down after he skipped past various Airdrie defenders all of whom had difficulty in containing him, and minutes before the interval another excellent run saw him cut the ball back into the path of Hilson who was unlucky to see his shot blocked away. A low drive from Pickard looked to be goalbound but was blocked, and the youngster was involved in the action seconds later as he became the first Queens player to be booked following a tussle with Iain Russell, who was also cautioned and the half came to its conclusion with Queens thoroughly deserving their two goal advantage.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 2-0 AIRDRIE
Queens made a change at the break as Jake Pickard was replaced by Kyle Jacobs and the second period had a somewhat sort of stop start begining due to a couple of incidents.Firstly a fan in the Airdrie section was taken unwell - we wish them well and hope all is okay - which caused the referee to call a halt to the game for some minutes, and then when the game re-started Airdrie player Faria took a blow to the head which required him to be substituted. When the game finally settled it was more of the same really with Queens carving out some very decent chances although they will probably feel that they should have scored more.
Dale Hilson broke clear after gaining possession in his own half and after getting in behind the defence his pass across goal looking for Lyle was slightly over hit and although Lyle was able to knock the ball back in for Dykes, there was no power in his shot. Hilson then made way for Aiden Smith, and Steven Rigg made his first home appearance replacing two-goal Derek Lyle.
Both substitutes might have added to the scoreline had they been an inch more accurate with their respective chances that came their way. Firstly Rigg reacted brilliantly to smash a loose bouncing ball against the bar from 10-yards out, and then Smith was extremely unlucky to see his well placed shot come back off the near post after good approach play involving Dykes, and Rigg had created the chance.
As the chances continued Chris Higgins got in on the act. Winning possession deep in his own half he carried the ball forward before releasing Tapping on the left and racing ahead for the return pass.However Tapping elected to goal for goal himself seeing his shot deflected away for what was Queens` first and only corner of the game.The corner was well defended by Airdrie and following a quick break down the left it seemed as though they might snatch a late consolation goal, but having done virtually nothing all game, Robinson showed good reactions to block away a shot at his near post to preserve yet another clean sheet.
Higgins kept Russell quiet all evening
Sponsors Betfred gave their man-of-the-match award to Grant Anderson, and the majority of the crowd of 1036 went home still very warm, but also very happy after what was a pretty decent performance from their team. The result means that the top two teams in the group will go head -to-head this coming Saturday and the watching Partick Thistle management team will be aware that Queens have played some good stuff in their opening two Betfred fixtures.
Mrs Betty Brown presents Grant Anderson with the Sponsors Man of the Match trophy