Returning favourite Stephen Dobbie inspired Queens to a resounding victory over rivals Ayr United as they kicked off their home league programme in style. After the midweek win at Easter Road, Queens carried on from where they left off and were always that bit better than their visitors in a first half that saw both Derek Lyle, and the irrepressible Dobbie find the net. The points were wrapped up with two further goals in the second half as Queens ended a very good week on a high.
Gavin Skelton made three changes to the side that started against Hibs, with Jordan Marshall, Callum Tapping and Stephen Dobbie in for Scott Hooper,Mark Millar, and Dale Hilson, whilst young Connor Murray earned himself a place on the bench as he appeared in the matchday squad for the first time.
The home side started brightly and Jamie Hamill was first to put pressure on the visiting defence when his driven cross caused some panic amongst their ranks, but the ball fell nicely for Meggatt who was able to clear the danger. Hamill was involved moments later when his through ball almost fell into the path of Dobbie, but it had just a bit too much pace on it and sped through to the `keeper. The opening minutes were all played inside the Ayr half,and Queens created their first real chance of the game seven minutes in. A foul by Harkins gave Hamill the chance to deliver the ball in and although the cross was missed by eveyone, Lyndon Dykes was able to retrieve the ball and send in a tempting cross that was met by the head of Andy Dowie but a combination of `keeper Fleming and the near post kept his effort out.
Although it had been a good opening spell for Queens, the visitors might have scored with their first effort of the game. After being awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty area, Gilmour`s short free-kick found Harkins and although his shot was blocked away for the first corner of the match the danger wasn`t over for Queens. From Gilmour`s deep delivery to the back post Rose climbed high above the Queens defence to power a header well wide of the target when he probably should have done a lot better. Then as is often the case in football, no sooner than one team goes close, the other makes them pay for the miss and so it was today. On 12 minutes a throw-in on the left looked to have been wasted by Queens as it seemed as though the Ayr defence were in control, but a mis-placed header saw the ball bounce across the box where the alert Derek Lyle reacted quickest of all to tuck the ball across Fleming and into the net - it was a good finish from the striker who kept his composure well as he opened the scoring.
Lyle slams home the opener
Lyle is congratulated on his strike
The goal was no more than Queens deserved and they continued to take the game to the visitors. Some good skill and nice control by Grant Anderson saw the former Raith man reach the bye-line and his well placed cross picked out Dykes in the box who in turn headed the ball into the path of Dobbie, but the ball was smashed clear before the striker could react.Queens continued to dominate and with Kyle Jacobs - who was winning just about every loose ball - and Callum Tapping controlling the midfield area, the visitors were being forced back and didn`t really feature as an attacking force.
The majority in the crowd of 1982 were keen to see if Stephen Dobbie still had the dazzling skill, and the scoring ability that has made him a firm favourite, and just as he did against Hibs in midweek, he showed that he still has immense ability and will no doubt be a major asset for Queens this season. On 20 minutes his close control and excellent vision saw him skip past 3 defenders before playing the ball into the path of Dykes, but slightly off balance the Australian`s effort was too high, but the skill of Dobbie in creating the chance was well received by all those wearing the Blue & White. A rare break from Ayr saw Harkins get the better of Darren Brownlie, but from close range his low effort flew into the side netting. For the first time in the half the visitors began to look dangerous and only the eagle-eyed assistant on the far side prevented them from drawing level as he flagged for offside which ruled out Docherty`s drive from the edge of the box.
Just past the hour mark a foul on Dobbie left of centre and 25-yards out gave him the chance to do what everyone wanted, but unfortunately it was not to be as his rather tame effort smashed into the defensive wall. Dobbie was involved again moments later drifting inside and skipping past the Ayr defence and his pass to Anderson deserved a better finish but the side-footed attempt was easily blocked away.There was a growing air of expectancy within the ground and there was a sense that something would happen on every occasion that Dobbie was involved in the game and a minute before the break, the hopes of the home support materialised as their returning hero found the net.There appeared to be no danger when he collected the ball but after cutting inside and gliding past two defenders Stephen Dobbie drove a right foot shot past the diving Fleming to score the goal that all Queens fans wanted to see.There was the answer to the question, a precision finish from a top class player, and yes he is back scoring at Palmerston for Queen of the South - fantastic.
Dobbie strikes at Palmerston again
Dobbie enjoyed his Palmerston goal
That was to be the final action of the half, and what a way to end it it was.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 2-0 AYR UTD
The second half started at a slow pace and the only noteworthy action was the unfortunate clash of heads between Brownlie and Hamill although thankfully neither player was badly injured and both were able to continue.Kicking towards the Portland Drive end of the ground, Queens maintained their 4-4-2 line-up and just 8 minutes into the half a third goal just about made certain of the victory.Grant Anderson`s persistence ended with him being fouled just right of centre a few yards outside of the penalty box, and with both Lyle and Hamill seizing up the opportunity it was left to Derek Lyle to smash an effort high into the net. His second goal of the game also moved him on to 99 in total for Queens and with a home game to come against Falkirk next weekend, it would be really great if his 100th could come at Palmerston.
Derek Lyle strikes his 99th
At that point Ayr turned to their bench bringing on both Forrest, and former Queens man Jamie Adams and whether or not it was a case of Queens easing off a bit or the introduction of fresh legs, the visitors then had their best spell of the game and eventually turned their possession into a goal.Excellent skill on the edge of the box saw on-loan Partick striker Kevin Nisbet create an opening for himself and he finished off his own approach play with a well taken goal.
For a few moments Ayr threatened to drag themselves back into the game as Queens became a little ragged and both Tapping and then Hamill found their way into referee Finnie`s notebook after late challenges.Queens first change saw 2-goal Derek Lyle being replaced by Dean Brotherston, with Dykes moving upfront to play alongside Dobbie, and the two linked up to finally seal the win with 16 minutes remaining. Callum Tapping battled for and won possession in midfield before Dobbie latched on to the ball to send a perfectly weighted pass through to Lyndon Dykes who rounded the `keeper at pace, kept his composure and placed the ball into the empty net - a neat finish from a narrowing angle.
Dykes leaves Fleming helpless
Dykes celebrates his goal
Jake Pickard replaced Tapping with 11 minutes to go as the game began to wind down although excellent inter play between Dobbie and Dykes saw Queens go close to adding a fifth. At the other end Ayr should have reduced the deficit but Nisbet skied his close range shot after he found space just 6-yards out.
There was a standing ovation for Stephen Dobbie as he was replaced by Steven Rigg for the final few minutes, and although there were several good performances on the day, there can be little doubt that Dobbie was quite rightly named as man-of-the-match by the sponsors. An excellent performance from Queens to cap what has been a very good week for the club. Falkirk at Palmerston next weekend, and maybe we will have the chance to see some more Queens history being made.