Queen of the South 2 - 0 Dunfermline AthleticAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Saturday, 27th Mar 2010
This was another disappointing game from a Pars’ perspective with key players (and a McDougall chance) being badly missed. After being the better of two poor teams in the first quarter they were mugged somewhat by a goal in first half stoppage time; once they conceded a second they never looked like getting back into the game.
Greg Paterson was given his second start after Fleming’s midweek blunder, and Greg Ross came into the heart of midfield. Other than that the starting eleven picked itself, as Graham was added to the injury list that now included Burke, Holmes, Kirk, Bayne and Glass (remember him?); Steven Bell was suspended. Thus the Pars, in their red second-choice kit, started with Paterson; Woods, Dowie, Higgins and McCann; Gibson, Ross, Mason, Phinn and Cardle; McDougall. Everyone else that was approximately fit (Campbell, Muirhead, Willis, McGregor and Fleming of course) was on the bench. Caretaker Queens’ boss Kenny Brannigan, mindful of the Pars likely line-up started with a back 3 of Reid, Lilley and Harris, a 5-man midfield, with the returning hero O’Connor joining Derek Holmes up front.
The first half was a scrappy affair, punctuated by frequent blasts on referee Muir’s whistle, with few coherent passages of play. Ross was quite prominent early on, Gibson had an early free-kick that didn’t trouble keeper Hutton (although his effort stayed in the ground, unlike O’Connor’s effort a minute later) and Paterson was called upon to make his first save in the 12th minute, a straightforward effort from O’Connor after Adams had flicked on a long throw.
The young keeper was able to keep play going with quick throw outs, particularly to McCann, who was able to combine with Cardle rather better than Woods was with Gibson on the other wing. The quality of JoJo’s final ball left a lot to be desired though, that is until the 16th minute, when a perfect centre found McDougall unmarked 10 yards out. With the goal gaping, his effort was too close to Hutton permitting a fine save. How the Pars were to rue this miss.
Dowie struck the top of the bar with a back header from a Cardle corner before there was some mild controversy following a corner at the other end. Mason cleared high in the air, Paterson didn’t get a clean punch, and Burns went over Woods’ leg, but the ref wasn’t fooled – and neither was anyone else.
Not much was happening – Ross could clearly be heard shouting at Willie Gibson to get back in position when he seemed more interested in debating with Cardle – and even Paterson’s nervous readjustment to clutch a long ball that seemed about to go over his head didn’t rouse the crowd. However, the Pars were playing the better football, trying to work the ball from side to side, and again came close just before the break. McCann had fed Cardle who again cut inside and was tripped as he went past Burns. Gibson chipped in the free kick, Ross nodded on but his effort came back off the woodwork, with Higgins unable to divert the rebound on target. Then deep into stoppage time the home side took the lead. A Harris corner was cleared back to the taker; his second delivery was better and although O’Connor missed his effort the ball fell to McLaren who drilled the ball home. Having had the bulk of the play the Pars may not have deserved to be trailing at the interval, but trail they did.
Half Time: Doonhamers 1 Pars 0
No personnel changes at the break, but when the match resumed, Phinn adopted a more advanced position alongside McDougall. Chances were still few and far between – Woods cut inside in 49 minutes but his left foot shot from distance swerved away, rather than towards goal, and Phinn had a better chance in 58 minutes but couldn’t keep his shot down. Quinn had a better chance still on the hour after Dowie had again misjudged a Harris throw in, but the Queens midfielder blazed O’Connor’s knock down over.