Gordon Chisholm was forced into two changes from the side that drew with Morton on Saturday which, given Steve Tosh was completing a two match suspension meant we were three players different from the first eleven consistently selected lately. Sean O'Connor's whiplash injury meant a rare start for John Stewart alongside Dobbie up front whilst Robert Campbell filled in for Jamie McQuilken on the left side. Ryan McCann continued to deputise for Tosh in midfield with Craig Reid playing right back where McCann has been regularly playing. Grindlay, O'Neill, Paton, Gilmour and Robertson made up the bench. Livingston's signing embargo has meant they have had to use a lot of young players lately and the bench had a look of a crèche more than a football team but it was a strong first eleven for a match much more important to the home side in the scheme of things than to ourselves.
It was Queens who made the brighter start and Dobbie struck the first shot in anger over the top after five minutes but the bright opening soon dissipated and it was almost quarter of an hour later before Liam Fox had the next meaningful shot at goal, firing an effort from distance over the bar from a Livi corner. On 25 minutes Ryan McCann's forceful run earned Queens a corner but it was Livi who ended up with the first shot on target of he game from it as Griffiths broke away to set up Snodgrass for a pot at goal from 20 yards. His shot though was straight at MacDonald. Livi began to take a firmer grip of the game and Griffiths was a little unfortunate to see his audacious attempt to catch MacDonald off his line with an early shot from 35 yards sail over the bar in the wind.
Harris intercepts - from David Gow on the terraces
The game sprang to life in 35 minutes as Stewart almost latched onto a short backpass but his namesake in the Livi goal just touched it off his toe. The loose ball though only went as far as Dobbie who controlled the ball and seemed destined to score only to be denied by a brave defensive block. Livi broke straight upfield and the impressive Griffiths looked to be in on goal until a superbly timed sliding challenge from Jim Thomson dealt with the problem. Minutes later Stewart almost latched onto a fine ball through by Burns and Colin Stewart's sliced clearance caused chaos as the keeper appeared to lose his bearings and flap at his own rebound with a hand well outside his box. Referee Mr Norris though was happy that he had made no contact and played on allowing Livi to clear eventually. With the last kick of the half Liam Fox again tested MacDonald from distance but it ended a scoreless, and largely incident-less, half.
Dobbie fired in the first shot in anger of the second half from a narrow angle forcing a decent parry from Stewart before, a minute later, setting up Paul Burns for a shot at goal which he unfortunately sliced horribly into the stand from a good position. Next up it was Ryan McCann's turn to prod an effort goalward as Queens started the second period in charge playing with the wind at their backs.
Gordon Chisholm made his first change on 51 minutes when Brian Gilmour replaced Campbell, who hadn't had the best of full debuts. Gilmour almost opened the scoring with his first involvement as his mazy run ended up with a shot into the side net when perhaps a cut back would have been the more productive option. Livi showed for the first time in the half after 58 minutes when Tinkler arrived late in the box and almost turned the ball home but Queens best chance to date came a minute later when Stewart sent Dobbie clear and the division's top scorer left two defenders buying tickets to get back in before almost wrong-footing Colin Stewart with a clever shot that the keeper only just got a hand to.
Holding the line - from David Gow on the terraces
Livingston made their first change on 64 minutes when Murray Davidson replaced Mark Tinkler. Moments later Dobbie's point blank header from Gilmour's corner was deflected wide. Queens had a scare in 71 minutes when Leigh Griffiths turned the ball into the net from Dorrans' cross but he was offside and the goal was rightly chalked off. Seconds later Snodgrass found himself the first player booked in the game for a challenge on Aitken. He was joined there in the next passage of play though by Neil MacFarlane who had pushed his luck one foul too far with Mr Norris. With 10 minutes to go John O'Neill replaced John Stewart. A minute later Colin Stewart pulled off a wonderful save low to his right to deny Dobbie again. The striker though became the third player booked a minute later, presumably for "simulation" though it wasn't quite clear. Perhaps it was for dissent?
The match was decided in controversy with six minutes to go when Robert Harris' slip let Livi through on goal. The first shot was parried by MacDonald and deflected over Craig as he came in. However, Leigh Griffiths followed up to hammer the ball into the bottom right corner. Craig though had been standing on the goal-line and, whilst he didn't touch the ball, there had to be a question about whether he hampered attempts to clear the ball by goalkeeper and defenders. The assistant referee put his flag up and, as Griffiths celebrated, Mr Norris went off to consult him before awarding the goal anyway. Gordon Chisholm was clearly irate at the decision and was sent to the stand for carrying his protests too far with the officials.
There was still time for John O'Neill to collect a last minute booking for dissent before Paul Burns lost the plot completely and received a straight red for a confrontation with Snodgrass in the corner. In the end what at times had been a positive performance ended in a sorry defeat with some poor discipline.