Match Report

 Queens cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over South West rivals Stranraer at Palmerston this afternoon, as a goal in each half saw them take another step towards beating Gretna`s record 88 points total set back in the 2005/06 season.

Following last weekend`s thrilling Ramsdens cup penalty shoot out victory, Queens boss Allan Johnston, made 5 changes to the team that began against Partick, with Chris Mitchell, Marc Fitzpatrick,Stephen McKenna, Derek Lyle, and Chris Higgins all making way, to be replaced by Ryan McGuffie, Kevin Holt,Paul Burns, and Steven Black. There was also a first team debut for young Pat Slattery who slotted into midfield alongside the experienced Derek Young.
Youngster Slattery took over the Stephen McKenna role
The visitors, desperate for points to try and avoid the relegation play-off spot, arrived at Palmerston with 2 wins, 2 draws, and just one defeat from their last 5 games, although their form against Queens in recent seasons has not been good, and it was 3 wins from 3 this season for the 2nd Division champions before kick-off today.
As in the last home game against Brechin, the visitors sportingly welcomed Queens onto the pitch as they formed a guard of honour, whilst the crowd of 1806 warmly applauded their `double` winning heroes out into the warm April sunshine.
McGuffie leads his side through the Guard of Honour
Queens began in their usual 4-4-2 formation, with a new front pairing of Clark, and Paton, but there was a quiet, somewhat tentative start to the opening period of the game, with neither side showing much composure on the ball . The home side were certainly having much more of the early possession, but on too many occasions, the final pass was just not there. Having made quite a few changes, there seemed to be a lack of cohesion about Queens during the first quarter, but slowly they began to take control of the game, and after 14 minutes, Slattery had the game`s first half chance, but his shot from 25 yards was always drifting wide of the near post. The youngster was involved again minutes later as Queens won their first corner of the game. With regular set-piece taker Chris Mitchell watching on from the stand, Paul Burns, took the first corner, and his deep cross picked out Slattery on the edge of the box, and his drive on the volley was blocked away by the under pressure Stranraer defence. Little was seen of the visitors as an attacking force, but on a rare breakaway they won their first corner, but nothing came of it as Queens cleared comfortably.
After 24 minutes, the best chance of the opening spell fell to Queens. Following a quickly taken free-kick by Young, Ryan McGuffie, skipper for the day in the absence of Chris Higgins, broke clear down the right and delivered a well placed cross into the 6- yard area for Michael Paton, but his header was slightly mis-timed and `keeper Mitchell saved easily. Moments later, Queens attacked down the right again, however, this time McGuffie`s excellent cross found no takers and the ball drifted out of play.
Queens were certainly well on top at this point, and it was no surprise that on 31 minutes they went in front, although there was certainly a surprise about the goalscorer. After winning possession in midfield, Queens broke forward and the ball eventually broke to Young inside the penalty area, the midfielder slipped a neat pass inside the full back finding Holt almost on the bye-line, and when the Queens left back`s attempted cross fell back into his path, from close range, Kevin Holt blasted home his first ever goal for Queens. With their tails up, Queens began to play with an increased tempo, and Michael Paton almost doubled their advantage after Clark and Burns had combined well to create a chance for the former Aberdeen man, but his attempt from 14 yards out missed the target and flew wide. The same player had another chance minutes later when having been set up by Burns, he cut back inside onto his right foot, but unfortunately curled his shot a couple of feet wide of the far post.
Kevin Holt fires home the opener
There were no changes made by either side at the break, and the pattern of the early stages of the second period mirrored that of the first half, with Queens dominating possession, but not being able to get in behind the visiting defence. It was 12 minutes into the half before a shot of any significance arose, and it was goalscorer Kevin Holt who was at the heart of the attack. His long ball down the left wing found Clark who was able to hold the ball up before playing the ball back into the path of Holt who`s first time effort from the edge of the area was comfortably held by Mitchell.
Just after the hour mark, Queens leading scorer Clark had his first real chance of the game, but after holding his run perfectly to stay onside,the pass from Danny Carmichael just ran away from him and the chance was gone. Derek Lyle replaced Derek Young after 63 minutes, and the substitute was involved in a flowing Queens move that saw them go very close to doubling their lead. Holt did superbly well once more down the left, and his pinpoint cross found Lyle inside the area, and his cushioned header that set up a shooting chance for Clark should have been rewarded with a goal, but the top scorer hit his shot wide of the far post. 
In an effort to liven up their attacking options Stranraer introduced Michael Moore for the last quarter of the game, but even he could not turn things round as his side were made to look very ordinary by a Queens team playing at much less than full throttle. The second goal almost arrived with 15 minutes to go. Clark chased after a long ball down the left and his square pass into the 6-yard box seemed to be perfect for Lyle, but as the substitute prepared to prod the ball home, Stranraer defender Dunlop slid in to knock the ball behind for a corner. However, the home fans did not have to wait much longer for the second goal as a minute later Queens scored again. Once again the break came down the left wing, and after controlling the ball and racing past the last defender, Nicky Clarkproduced a neat finish - with the help of the near post - to score his 35th goal of what has been a tremendous season for the former Aberdeen player.
Nicky Clark fires home his 35th of the season
and acknowledges the crowd on the terracing
No sooner had he scored, as in last weekend`s cup final victory, Clark was substituted, with Kevin Smith coming on to replace this seasons Scottish football`s leading goalscorer. Smith almost scored with his first touch, after some audacious skill from Lyle set up Carmichael to deliver a cross that ended with Smith being thwarted by a good save from Mitchell. With time almost up, and Queens well in control, McGuffie came close to adding a third goal for Queens but his shot across the face of the goal crept narrowly past the far post. Queens made their final change with just 5 minutes remaining, Marc Fitzpatrick replacing the tiring Michael Paton. 
The final whistle saw Queens collect their 15th home league win of the season, and they also completed a fourth win over Stranraer this season, conceding just once to their South West rivals. Man of the match went to Danny Carmichael, and as Queens rested several players, both Steven Black, and Pat Slattery gave very accomplished performances that bode well for the future of the club. Gretna`s points record is now clearly within sight for a Queens team that has performed superbly well all season, and it is to be hoped that the team can create another piece of history in the weeks ahead. Only East Fife stand in the way of Queens going through their home league programme undefeated this campaign, and the way the team have played throughout this season, there is every possibility that they can maintain that record.
The Ramsdens Cup is paraded around the ground at the end of the match

  • Robinson

  • McGuffie

  • Durnan

  • Black

  • Holt

  • Burns

  • Young


  • Slattery

  • Carmichael

  • Clark

  • Paton



  • Atkinson

  • Lyle


  • Smith


  • Fitzpatrick


  • Higgins

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13:27 Hello folks and welcome to the spring sunshine at Palmerston as double winners Queens host derby rivals Stranraer.
13:27 Today`s line-ups:
13:28 Queens: 1 Robinson 2 McGuffie 3 Holt 4 Durnan 5 Black 6 Young 7 Carmichael 8 Slattery 9 Paton 10 Clark 11 Burns
13:29 Subs: 14 Lyle 15 Smith 16 Fitzpatrick 17 Higgins 12 Atkinson (gk)
13:30 Stranraer: 1 Mitchell 2 Kinnaird 3 Staunton 4 McKeown 5 Dunlop 6 Aitken 7 Love 8 Gallagher 16 Gribben 10 Malcolm 11 Borris
13:30 Subs: 12 Winter 14 Campbell 15 Moore 9 One 20 Caldwell (gk)
13:31 And today`s whistler is Kevin Graham assisted by flagwavers Stuart Hodge and Ronnie Strain.
13:33 Changes galore in the Queens lineup as McGuffie, Holt, Black, Slattery and Burns all come into the team following last week`s cup success.
13:36 Lowly Stranraer`s fortunes have turned of late as 4 victories in their last 10 sees them sit 3 points ahead of East Fife in the playoff zone
13:45 But Queens have defeated them in all 3 meetings this season winning the last match at Palmerston 2-0. Overall aggregate of the 3 is 11-1.
13:52 Today could be a test for Queens` new look side as Black comes in for just his 3rd start and Slattery makes his first start of the season.
13:53 They do have 34-goal striker Nicky Clark up front though. The forward has netted five times against Stranraer this season.
14:00 Stranraer follow Brechin`s lead and give Queens a guard of honour as the home side takes to the pitch to warm applause from Palmerston.
4 min Queens begin the game in their usual 4-4-2 formation with Clark and Paton up top, Burns on the right and Carmichael on the left.
8 min Bit of a tentative start for Queens as Burns and Young are both guilty of sloppy passing. Queens have controlled the opening minutes though.
14 min First effort of note from either side as Pat Slattery fires over the Stranraer goal from about 30 yards. Slow start.
18 min Queens are beginning to put pressure on the Stranraer goal with a couple of corners but delivery has been poor from Burns and Carmichael.
23 min At last we have our first shot on target as Paton nods McGuffie`s cross straight into the arms of the `keeper. Should have done better.
26 min The home side are starting to up the tempo now as McGuffie is freed on the right side of the box and crosses low and hard but no one there.
31 min GOAL QUEENS! Holt the scorer
34 min Kevin Holt puts Queens in the lead with his 1st of the season after his initial cross is rebounded to him and he smashes high into the net.
36 min Michael Paton almost doubles Queens lead immediately as he latches onto Burns` throughball but the angle was too tight and it goes wide.
44 min Good chance wasted by Michael Paton as Burns seizes on a loose pass and plays the striker in. He cuts inside but sends the ball wide.
Half Time HALF TIME - QOS 1:0 Stranraer
Half Time It`s been a very quiet game so far with Queens barely being put under any pressure by Stranraer. More goals in this for Queens potentially.
Half Time Today`s attendance is 1806. Not a bad turnout but not much for the crowd to cheer about as yet.
51 min The second half begins in mundane fashion as all of the `action` takes place in the middle of the park. No goalmouth action to speak of.
54 min At last! A shot on goal! Kevin Holt is the man, as he runs onto Clark`s pass and goes for goal but does not trouble the keeper.
63 min Almost for Queens as it looks as if Nicky Clark is in behind the defence but the ball runs away from him and through to the keeper.
63 min Substitution : Lyle on for Young
64 min Derek for Derek as Queens shuffle the pack and put Burns into Young`s position, Paton to left wing and Lyle comes on up front.
70 min Lovely play from Queens as Kevin Holt does well down the left and crosses for Lyle to nod down to Clark but the striker shoots wide.
74 min Almost 2-0. Nicky Clark sprints onto a long ball and finds Lyle with what looks a certain goal before Dunlop blocks and Stranraer survive.
76 min GOAL QUEENS! Clark the scorer
77 min Nicky Clark slams his 35th goal of the season in off the near post to secure three more points for the Doonhamers.
77 min Substitution : Smith on for Clark
80 min Kevin Smith almost scores with his first touch as Derek Lyle does some tricks before releasing Carmichael to cross. Good save.
81 min Queens are starting to play now and Stranraer look well beaten. McGuffie has the latest chance but rolls a shot wide of the far post.
86 min Substitution : Fitzpatrick on for Paton
15:46 FULL TIME - QOS 2:0 Stranraer
15:47 As steady a win as they come for Queens as they close in on Gretna`s points record. Kevin Holt was excellent today.
15:48 The Queens players show off the Ramsdens Cup to the Queens faithful as the rain begins to fall in Dumfries.