With players coming back from injury, suspension and illness it was no surprise that the Queens side had a jaded look about it tonight as a rejuvenated St.Mirren, under the Caretaker Management of Gus McPherson looked to prove a point.
The Buddies were full of energy and made all of the early play as Queens with Bowey and O'Connor missing, Thomson coming back from suspension and other players just about recovered from a flu bug, struggled to contain the lively Paisley forward line early on. Add to that the introduction of a new goalkeeper in the shape of former Saint Kris Robertson as a trialist it is easy to appreciate that a quiet start would have been the preference.
As it was Saints didn't give the home defence any time to become familiar with one another and applied some early pressure. The first chance fell to Ricky Gilles on the edge of the box, the midfielder firing in a shot that Jim Thomson did well to block away. Simon Lappin followed up soon after as his cross had to be headed away, again by Jim Thomson. On ten minutes it was Thomson to the rescue again as he headed clear another cross following some sharp play between Ellis and Gilles.
Kris Robertson was called into action in the thirteenth minute as he produced a superb stop to deny a goal bound effort that had already taken a deflection on its' way to him.
Moments later thought the ex-Saint turned to sinner as a free kick, awarded rather softly when Eric Paton appeared to have won the ball cleanly, on the right hand side went St.Mirrens way. Gilles stepped up and sent in a ball that may or may not have been intended as a goalscoring effort, in any case the ball ended up in the back of the net as Robertson failed to protect the far post at the set piece.
Robertson redeemed himself shortly after as Brian McGinty broke through on goal only to be met by he out rushing 'keeper who blocked the effort.
Then the first of a number of perplexing decisions as Gary Wood released Alex Burke clear on goal only to have play stopped and brought back for a foul on Wood, the tackle not even bad enough to warrant a booking for the offender.
Van Zanten was to find his way into the referee's book as the man in the middle obviously recognised his error in not allowing play to continue in the previous incident as it took almost three minutes before the ball was out of play and the Saints No.2 had his name taken following a clash with Willie Gibson.
With Queens becoming more of a force in the match as the half wore on a penalty claim was turned away when Alex Burke tumbled in the box, in truth the claim was more from the crowd than the players.
The half finished with a Willie Gibson cross being relatively easily cut-out by Hinchcliffe in the Saints goal.
The second half began in a similar manner to the first with Saints producing the more positive football, with just a few minutes on the clock Broadfoot should have done better from a set piece on the right as he dived low to head powerfully goalward, Robertson again making a superb save to deny the visitor.
Moments later and the St.Mirren supporters, small in number but loud, were claiming a penalty as McGinty tumbled in the box, fortunately the referee was close enough to see that no one other than McGinty was involved in the fall and the Paisley player was duly booked for his antics.
Within seconds though the visitors had scored their second goal as Jim Thomson was caught in possession on the edge of the box by Russell whose shot took a cruel deflection off Eric Paton to wrong foot Robertson and double their lead.
Rather than sit back Queens pressed forward and just four minutes after the goal Alex Burke had pulled one back from the penalty spot as he was sent crashing by Mark Dempsie as the defender found Burkies agility too much and took his legs away. Up stepped Burke and he cooly despatched the ball into the back of the net despite the 'keeper going the right way.
An altercation between Wood and Hinchcliffe as Wood tried to retrieve the ball to keep the game flowing saw both players booked.
John Connolly then started to ring the changes to make his side more effective, first off was Willie Gibson who had failed to make an impression all night, he was replaced by Andy Aitken who took up the left-back spot freeing Joe McAlpine into the left midfield slot.
Queens immediately upped the tempo and put the Buddies on the back foot as the left side became much more effective. Ten minutes later though and another change meant another change of tactics as Emilio Jaconelli made his first appearance at Palmerston in replacing Joe McAlpine and setting up a 4-3-3 formation with Jaconelli playing inbetween Burke and Wood.
With fifteen minutes left to go Derek Lyle was put on in place of Gary Wood and again injected more pace into the attack, Lyle's first touch was a snap shot from the edge of the box that Hinchcliffe did well to save.
With time running out frustrations were growing and Brian McColligan became the second Queens player booked for a rash and late challenge.
Finally with Queens pressing for an equaliser in the depths of injury time Emilio Jaconelli reacted to being almost halved as he attempted to race through the stubborn Saints defence, referee Eddie Mack stunned the crowd into silence by red carding Jaconelli and merely booking the perpetrator of the tackle Mark Dempsie, who had already brought down Burke for the penalty kick.
At the end of the match however no one could have said that the result was an unfair one on Queens, St.Mirren played with a spirit that must make Saints fans and in particular John Coughlin wonder about their professionalism in the season up until this match whilst Queens looked stretched and jaded as suspensions and injuries have started to take their toll on the squad. It doesn't get any easier however as the challenge of a trip to the highlands awaits this weekend in Inverness, however with hopefully two more key players on the verge of returning Queens can be expected to put in a stronger performance against the present league leaders.