The wait for a league win continues for Queens after this afternoon`s Championship clash with Dunfermline ended with the teams sharing four goals in a game that could have gone either way. Having taken the lead late in the first half, Queens found themselves trailing mid-way through the second period but rallied well to earn a share of the points.
Following last weekends creditable draw at the Falkirk Stadium, Queens boss, Gary Naysmith selected the same starting eleven and once again the preferred 4-4-2 formation was used. The game saw the return of many former Queens employees with players Nicky Clark, Gavin Reilly, David Hopkirk, and David Hutton, joining the management duo of Allan Johnston and Sandy Clark in coming back to Dumfries.
Before kick-off, Danny Carmichael was presented with a memento to acknowledge his 200th appearance for the club which came against Falkirk in the last game, and as they searched for a first league win since September 17, Queens began the game on the front foot forcing an early corner which although eventually cleared by Talbot, caused an anxious moment in the visitors defence.Moments later and from their next foray forward, Queens created a half chance. Good work involving Stephen Dobbie, and Derek Lyle saw the ball worked out to Grant Anderson on the right and when his cross into the box was only partially dealt with Lyle was unlucky to see his effort blocked by McCabe.
As Queens continued to press forward another cross was well defended by Fordyce, and then a move that began at the back following an interception by Andy Dowie, ended with a shot from Jamie Hamill missing the far post by only a couple of feet.
In contrast the visitors had hardly made it into the Queens half, but following their first decent move of the game they went very close to breaking the deadlock when McMullan found the time and space to pick out Higginbotham, but the former Falkirk player was unable to keep his shot on target and skied the ball over the crossbar. At this point in the game Queens were temporarily reduced to 10 men as an injury to Kyle Jacobs led to him having to leave the field for treatment to a facial injury. The hosts played on for about 4 minutes without Jacobs before a decision was taken to replace him and it was Danny Carmichael who got the nod and moved to the left wing role with Mark Millar shifting across to take Jacobs midfield position.
Jacobs with an early cut
A long ball from the back from Jordan Marshall provided Queens with their next chance as Stephen Dobbie`s excellent control and turn allowed him to get a shot on target but his attempt was well blocked by Ashcroft. The game`s first booking arrived shortly afterwards and it was shown to Jamie Hamill following his over zealous challenge on Wedderburn, and for a few seconds it looked as though things might get out of hand, but thankfully some cool heads prevailed and calmed the situation.
Former Queens striker Nicky Clark had been struggling to get into the game but on 23 minutes his angled drive from the edge of the penalty area forced Lee Robinson to make a smart diving save. The visitors had their best spell of the half during the next 5 minutes or so, and after Millar lost possession in midfield, McCabe should have at least tested Robinson when well placed but his shot was way off the mark. They went closer to scoring with their next attack when following their first corner of the game, Fordyce saw his glancing header from Higginbotham`s delivery slip just past the far post.
The home side responded well and twice in as many minutes they created chances to open the scoring and on both occasions Dobbie was involved. Firstly Anderson played the ball inside to Millar and in turn Millar set up Dobbie, but not for the first time in the game McCabe was on hand to block his effort, and then after Lyle and Dobbie had exchanged passes just outside the area, Dobbie`s left foot drive across the `keeper was only inches wide of the far post.
Dobbie is foiled
The pressure was building for the hosts and 6 minutes before the break, they went ahead. Jamie Hamill, and Stephen Dobbie worked an opening for Grant Anderson who saw his shot blocked for a corner, and from Millar`s pinpoint delivery the ball skimmed off the head of Dunfermline defender Ashcroft as he contested the ball with Darren Brownlie - who unfortunately as close as it was, could not claim his first goal of the season.
Ashcroft, Brownlie or Millar?
Back of the net
In the dying moments of the half, both sides had opportunities to score. McCabe forced another good save from Robinson but the Queens` `keeper`s save was bettered moments later when Murdoch reacted superbly to make a one-handed save to deny Lyle and prevent his team from falling further behind.
The penultimate home game of 2016 hadn`t been a bad watch up until the break, and just as in the previous home game, Queens found themselves going into the interval with a one goal advantage.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 DUNFERMLINE
The visitors got the second half underway as both teams remained unchanged, however the away side must have been given the proverbial `hairdryer treatment` from their management team as they began the second half very brightly and with much more urgency about their play. A quick breakaway might have caused problems for the home defence, but Anderson`s foul on Talbot halted the move and although the Queens man joined team-mate Hamill in referee McKendrick`s notebook, the resulting free-kick was wasted by the visitors.Lee Robinson had to look lively minutes later when he reacted well to block a fierce drive from Moffat following a good attack involving the impressive McCabe, and as Dunfermline continued to be the dominant side, and with Queens being forced to defend deeper and deeper, it came as no real surprise to the crowd of 1561 when the visitors drew level. McCabe`s long throw into the area seemed to have been dealt with by the home side but they reckoned without Talbot as the full-back unleashed a powerful drive that flew past Robinson on it`s way to finding the bottom left corner of the net.
Talbot beats Robinson
The equaliser came just past the hour mark, and with their tails up just two minutes after that goal, Dunfermline should really have gone ahead. Clark saw his shot saved and when the ball broke to Higginbotham his sideways pass appeared to leave Moffat with a simple tap-in just four yards out but somehow the striker lifted the ball over the bar with the empty goal beckoning.
With the visitors doing most of the pressing, Queens were almost playing on the break and a long ball from Carmichael gave Lyle the chance to put the visiting defence under pressure and after forcing the ball into the path of Anderson, some of the crowd thought that Queens had scored again but unfortunately Anderson`s thumping drive from a difficult angle had only found the side netting. Former favourite Clark got on the wrong side of the Palmerston faithful when he clattered into Marshall which rather surprisingly merited only a talking to from the referee, and then just 12 minutes after drawing level, Dunfermline completed the turnaround when Higginbotham stooped low to guide a header past Robinson from a left wing cross by Moffat.
Only two men didn`t think that Murdoch handled outside the box - but they had the flag and the whistle
Queens made a second change as Owen Moxon replaced Grant Anderson and the substitute was quickly involved in the action as his jinking run saw him glide past three defenders before playing the ball into midfield and eventually onto Carmichael whose shot from distance lacked accuracy. Carmichael had better luck the next time that he was involved in the action as it was from his cross that Queens drew level. The move that led to the equaliser was started by Chris Higgins and Andy Dowie deep inside their own half. Dowie`s excellent pass picked out Carmichael on the right and picking up pace the diminutive winger cut inside before hitting a powerful shot that was too hard for Murdoch to hold and as a result he spilled the ball into the path of Stephen Dobbie who simply could not miss from close range.
Dobbie twists to get his boot around the spill by Murdoch
A prone Dobbie watches the ball cross the line
Dobbie enjoys his strike - as always
The final minutes saw both teams create chances to gain all three points, but in fairness none of the chances were clear cut and a draw was probably the right result. Andy Dowie became the third Queens player to be cautioned for a late challenge on Clark, and young striker Ross Ferguson replaced Derek Lyle for the final few minutes.
Sponsors chose Darren Brownlie as their Queens man-of-the-match, and although we have now picked up points in the last 2 games, we need to get back to winning ways as soon as possible as we are currently only 3 points clear of the relegation play-off position.
Merry Christmas to you all.