Queens remain leaders of the Scottish Championship after today`s clash between the first and second teams in the league ended in a no score draw at a wet and windy Palmerston. The draw was enough to preserve Queens` unbeaten league run, but it could have been a lot more productive for the hosts as visitors Hibernian played out the last 35 minutes with 10 men,but unfortunately Queens were unable to find the breakthrough and had to settle for a hard earned point.
Following the defeat to Rangers in midweek, Queens made two changes to the team that started at Ibrox. Chris Higgins returned to the defence in place of Jordan Marshall, and Lyndon Dykes began ahead of Grant Anderson. There was also a change in formation as Gavin Skelton opted to go with a 3-5-2 set up. The change of formation saw Dale Hilson partner Derek Lyle up front, and Jamie Hamill and Lyndon Dykes operating as wing backs,Stephen Dobbie started just behind the two strikers.
Windswept but proud mascots
The game began with Queens - unusually - attacking the Portland Drive end of the ground and in a bright opening Hilson forced the first save of the game from Hibs `keeper Marciano after he latched on to Dobbie`s through ball, and as the pace of the game quickened the visitors created a couple of half chances when both McGinn, and then Boyle had decent attempts on goal. With a gusting wind and driving rain sweeping around Palmerston it was a credit to both teams that any sort of football was being played, and it was the side from the capital who seemed to adapt to the difficult conditions quicker. The lively Boyle was hauled to the ground by Mark Millar after just 11 minutes, earning the Queens midfielder an early booking,and from the free-kick Gray`s delivery was met by Cummings but the in form striker could only direct a weak header straight at Lee Robinson.
As the visitors continued to have more meaningful possession they forced a couple of quick corners and from the second of these Hanlon really should have done better with a free header from 10-yards out. The Edinburgh side were strong in midfield and the impressive McGinn was a dominant figure and along with McGeough, they were creating problems for the home side, and as such Queens changed to 4-4-2 in an effort to combat the situation, but it was still Hibs who looked more likely to find a breakthrough and it took a tremendous block by Hamill to prevent Boyle from getting a shot in.
Queens won their first corner of the game on 28 minutes, Jamie Hamill`s delivery was cleared but only out to Dobbie but his low drive lacked power. Dale Hilson`s pressure on the defence almost paid dividends for Queens and after laying the ball off to Dobbie, he very nearly got on the end of Dobbie`s delightful curling cross but the pace on the ball was just too strong.
Neil Lennon`s men should really have taken the lead following their next attack but Gray was unable to keep his header on target from Boyle`s excellent delivery, and just before the break Graham and Boyle combined well before Cummings fired a shot on the turn straight at Robinson.
The interval was reached with Hibs having had the better of the game without really causing too much anxiety to Lee Robinson, although it has to be said, the Queens No1 was the busier of the two `keepers.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 HIBS
The rain was even more persistent at the start of the second period and the gusty wind appeared to be gaining strength as well and the conditions certainly were a major factor in the half`s first attempt on goal. A free-kick midway inside his own half was launched forward by Gray and his wind assisted kick had to be tipped over the bar by Robinson. The corner once again give the visitors the chance to go ahead but Cummings - usually so reliable from that range - mis-hit his effort.
Queens responded well and Hilson and Lyle played a one-two that gave Hilson a shooting opportunity, but from a very difficult angle he blazed his shot well off target and into the Hibs travelling support on the Terregles Street terracing. The big flashpoint of the game was only minutes away, and Hilson was again involved.
Mark Millar`s ball out wide sent Hilson off in pursuit and just as it appeared that he was breaking clear he was hauled to the ground by Stevenson leaving referee McLean little option other than to show him a yellow card, which combined with his earlier caution saw Hibs reduced to 10 men. The home side almost profited straight away when Andy Dowie got on the end of Hamill`s set-piece, however the defender could only glance a header wide of the left hand upright and the chance had gone. Queens now had a numerical advantage, and when Hibs top striker Jason Cummings was withdrawn, the home fans in the healthy attendance of 3703, could sense a victory. For whatever reason, Cummings was clearly not happy and was cautioned for dissent as he left the field of play.
Stevenson takes down Hilson to earn his second yellow
Two yellow make a red
For the first time in the game, Queens were well in control and were at last putting the visiting defence under pressure for longer periods. There was more room in midfield for Millar and Jacobs and also that extra bit of space on either flank which Queens tried to capitalise on.Unfortunately the busy Kyle Jacobs was unable to continue after succumbing to what appeared to be a muscle injury. His place was taken by Jake Pickard. Queens continued to press and after cutting in from the left, Hilson worked himself a shooting opportunity, but his well driven shot went straight at the Hibs `keeper.
The visitors responded when the game`s best player - McGinn- brought out a super stop from Robinson as he reacted well to push the ball,over the bar. It had been a quite afternoon for Derek Lyle and Grant Anderson replaced him for the final 13 minutes. The conditions were once again a major factor in what was probably Queens best chance of the half. A deep cross from Hamill got caught up in the wind and caused uncertainty in the Hibs defence, and when the ball fell to Hilson on the angle of the 6-yard box his shot lacked the strength to beat Marciano.The final chance fell to the visitors when substitute Fyvie got ahead of his marker to stab an effort wide at the near post following a late corner.
Fyvie makes an unorthodox but nonetheless effective block to save the draw for the visitors
So it ended with a point apiece for the top two teams and Queens extend their unbeaten league run to 7 games and suffer no `hangover` from Tuesday`s heavy defeat. In a game largely dominated by defenders, Andy Dowie was named as man-of the -match as Queens notched up their 6th clean sheet of the season.