Manager, John Connolly stuck to his pre-match promise (or should that be threat?) to rotate his squad for this midweek fixture. Out of Saturday's starting eleven went Jamie Campbell, Paddy Atkinson, Des McKeown (injured), Andy Aitken, Jon Sunderland, Alan Hogg and Peter Weatherson. In came Colin Scott at goalkeeper, Gordon Connelly and Gareth McGhie at wing-backs, John O'Neill, Graham Connell and Mark Patterson in midfield and Stuart Connolly up front. Campbell, Aitken, Sunderland and Weatherson were joined on the bench by the returning Stuart Davidson.
The first half was a pretty tame affair and it was the 35th minute before either keeper was called into action. Airdrie somehow carved out an opportunity down the right side and Colin Scott had to move smartly off his line to block from the advancing Stuart Taylor.
Queens had three scoring efforts in the final two minutes of the half (unfortunately these were our only opportunities of the entire match). In the 43rd minute, Stuart Connolly put in a good cross from the right which an Airdrie defender stretched to reach about six yards out at the near post. He succeeded only in deflecting it dangerously across the face of his own goal. A minute later, from a free kick midway inside the Diamonds half, John O'Neill rolled the ball fifteen yards left to Graham Connell who controlled the ball before striking a shot from 25 yards or so narrowly wide of the left post. Finally, from a twice taken free kick on the left O'Neill threw in a high ball which was drifting in at the top right corner before Bennett caught it comfortably enough.
So, some cause for optimism at half time. The defence had been more or less untroubled and we had finally produced a little spell of pressure right at the death. The second half was a completely different story. Our Lanarkshire opponents put together a twenty minute spell of football which we simply didn't cope with.
Action against Airdrie
The half was only three minutes old when Airdrie should have grabbed the lead. A long cross from the left seemed to be heading out for a goal kick but was somehow kept in by a forward chasing a lost cause. The ball was pulled back across the six yard box and the in-rushing Mark Roberts somehow skewed the ball over the bar with the empty goal gaping. In the 54th minute Stuart Taylor again found himself through on goal and blasted high but Scott parried wide. Three minutes later and Scott again produced an excellent save low to his left from a back post header from that man Taylor again.
The goal was coming and it arrived in the 61st minute. Left back Craig McPherson picked up a loose ball midway inside our half and simply ran towards goal. Somehow he fooled our entire back line into thinking he was going left and then simply ran past them as they all moved that way. Through on goal he made no mistake, leaving Scott no chance with a well placed shot to the top right corner.
We didn't learn and two minutes later the lead was doubled. Tony Smith ran at Gordon Connelly down the left and was given the time to put in an excellent cross which Owen Coyle headed past Scott and against the inside of the left post. For just a moment we thought we'd dodged the bullet but Stuart Taylor was first to the loose ball and turned it into the empty net.
Action from Airdrie
That was basically that. Over the next fifteen minutes Connolly brought on Sunderland and Davidson for O'Neill and Patterson respectively and Airdrie made all three of their permitted changes. Stuart Connolly was also booked for persistent tugging at opposing shirts. It was only about the fifth or sixth time he'd been pulled up for it so he can have little complaint. Towards the end of the game Airdrie also seemed to have a very good shout for a penalty turned down but with the game well dead and buried there was little complaint about the decision.
In truth we can take little from this game. The Airdrie side we faced was not a patch on the one we met twice last season and pushed very close on both occasions. Yet we managed only a long range shot on goal from Graham Connell which was a yard wide in ninety minutes; Bennett was never called upon to make a save. The defence looked pretty good for 45 minutes but was then posted missing for most of the second half. On the plus side, Graham Connell and Stuart Davidson made their returns from injury and must surely improve the midfield over the next few weeks.
Thanks to Ewan Lithgow for tonight's report and David Gow for the action shots