No one at Palmerston Park today could believe that St.Johnstone won this match in the manner that they did. The icing on the cake, as far as the fans were concerned was the practical removal of Jim Thomsons shirt as Saints striker Noble fouled his way to scoring the winning goal. Somehow the referee and well placed linesman did not see the incident and amazingly the goal stood and robbed Queens of what was at least a draw and potentially a victory.
Queens side saw two changes to that which had outplayed Aberdeen a fortnight earlier as Sean O'Connor started in place of Peter Weatherson and Colin Scott replaced the injured Andy Goram in goal. Derek Allan also replaced Alan Gray on the bench.
The first twenty minutes of the match were dominated by St.Johnstone who looked a much better side than we had seen at Palmerston earlier in the season, Queens though showed clearly that a lack of match practice takes the edge off a performance. Saints, whilst having the bulk of the possession looked nothing like scoring whilst Queens players invariably were taking a touch too many on every ball they received.
It took until the twenty-fifth minute before Queens came to life and it was a superb ball back across a breaking defence by Brian McColligan that set up Brian McLaughlin to send in a cross that John O'Neill controlled and shot goalward only to see his effort deflected away. McLaughlin was the source of all the problems for St.Johnstone as he next swung in a ball that was fired goalward again but by O'Connor this time but was also deflected away.
O'Neill steers it onto the post
On the half-hour mark Queens almost opened the scoring as a low angled ball from the right into the box was swung onto by John O'Neill and the crowd behind the goal could only groan as the ball hit the foot of the post and rebounded away just past the despairing leg of Brian McLaughlin. The ball was not cleared however and it was soon back across the goal mouth where Eric Paton looked certain to score as he wrong footed the 'keeper to send the ball toward the bottom right hand corner, it was Cuthberts' day though as his flailing leg caught the ball and again kept it out of the net.
Patons effort is saved
Sean O'Connor was next up to miss the net by a fraction as his effort must have skimmed a layer of paint off the post as it crashed into the net support at the back of the goals, Cuthbert this time was stranded at the other side of his goals.
Surely - but no
The Saints then had a rare foray forward that was broken up effectively by the Queens defence, Eric Paton broke out of defence and cut across the park diagonally, he fed Brian McLaughlin and got a return ball from the wee man, Paton then put the ball into space in front of goal and McLaughlin ran on, collected the ball and finished across the 'keeper into the far corner to give Queens a deserved lead at half time.
HALF TIME - 1-0
Queens started the second half quite brightly and forced the St.Johnstone defence into some basic errors in those first few minutes, unfortunately though we still wanted too much time on the ball and were soon closed down.
McColligan and Hartley were then left one on one as the Saints striker was clear on goal, both ended on the floor in the box with McColligan down first and Connolly next, not the first time Hartley had found the floor in and around the box and not the last, referee Martindale seemed happy to award a free kick every time Hartley went over and this time was no exception, penalty to Saints. Justice was done however as Colin Scott guessed correctly and dived to his right to push away the effort.
Scott saves the penalty
Saints were coming more and more into the match though and their full-time 'professional' training was telling more and more.
Queens though were looking extremely dangerous on the break and the introduction of Peter Weatherson in a straight swap for Sean O'Connor helped to reinforce that. Within three minutes of appearing Nellie should have put Queens ahead. McColligan played McLaughlin in behind the defence and whilst everyone expected him to shoot, the wee man crossed to Weatherson and O'Neill at the back post, O'Neill fed it back to Weatherson who shaped to shoot and fired an effort in, again though Cuthberts legs saved his side and from the rebound Nellie miscued his effort.
It was though getting farcical at the other end of the park as every time a Saints player went to ground a free kick was awarded, Steve Bowey was booked for what appeared an innocuous challenge around thirty -five yards out, however the resultant free kick was deflected by the defensive wall and left Scott no chance as it sneaked in at the far post to tie the scores.
The equaliser heads in to the net
A change was made almost immediately with McLaughlin being replaced by McAlpine, Joe's first contribution was to almost setup a goal as his angled ball was deflected out for a corner that eventually found Steve Bowey on the edge of the box, Bowsers chipped effort coming back off the bar.
A draw looked on the cards until the goal that capped off the fans total disenchantment with the officials as Jim Thomson was blatantly fouled and a goal scored which was allowed to stand. The verdict of the crowd was clear for all to hear as Mr Martindale, Mr McKendrick and Mr Robertson left the field.