A game along similar lines to last week's saw the same result as we lost by the only goal at Shielfield. John Connolly made two changes to last week's side. John O'Neill replaced Barry Donald in the midfield and Allan Moore got his first start in place of Paddy Atkinson which meant Gordon Connelly switching over to the left side of midfield. With Atkinson dropping out of the squad altogether, Stuart Davidson found a place on the bench.
Within the first minute, Colin Scott had to race from his line to block a Berwick attack down the right. He made a good stop at the striker's feet and then tripped the Berwick player trying to seize upon the rebound just outside the box. Fortunately the free kick came to naught. Straight up the other end and O'Neill took aim from the edge of the box. His shot was on target for the top right corner but was saved comfortably enough, if a little spectacularly, by Willie McCulloch in the home goal. In the seventh minute, Marc Anthony seized upon a loose ball 25 yards out and drove towards goal but Scott parried the ball away and the defence completed the clearance.
The "Wee Gers" took the lead in the fifteenth minute with a finish of real quality. Berwick attacked down their right side but it was well broken up by Graham Connell. "Carwash" brought the ball clear as we tried to break but, with options left and right, tried to beat one man too many and lost possession on the halfway line. The ball was immediately knocked up to Craig Feroz who took it first time on the half volley from outside the box and his shot seared over Colin Scott into the top right corner. Possession had been surrendered cheaply but it was still a tremendous finish, a little reminiscent of the second of Craig's hat trick for us at East Stirlingshire earlier this season. Four minutes later and it might have been two as Alan Gray repeated the trick of needlessly giving the ball away in his own half allowing Feroz to run in on goal. This time though, Scott was able to deal with the shot from the edge of the box.
In the 21st minute, a deep cross from Gray was headed out of the Berwick box only as far as O'Neill who shot powerfully. McCulloch was able to block and then recover in time to smother the loose ball before O'Boyle could get there. Around the 25th minute, Peter Weatherson received lengthy treatment after what seemed a fairly innocuous foul just outside the Berwick box. He spent five minutes trying to run the injury off, during which time he managed to head a really good chance from an O'Neill cross just over the bar, but conceded defeat on the half hour mark. Joe McAlpine replaced him and went into the left midfield slot with Gordon Connelly moving up front with O'Boyle. The only other point worth noting in the first half was an injury to Andy Aitken. It occurred when he went to make a headed clearance on the halfway line. Colin McDonald could see he wasn't going to win the ball but, in my opinion, made a deliberate back for Andy to fall over. Quite how referee Willie Young, standing about five yards away, didn't even give a foul was beyond me. In any event Aitken landed heavily and left the field for lengthy treatment meaning we played for between five and ten minutes with only ten men.
Three minutes into the second period, Berwick missed a great chance to double the lead when a poor clearance left Feroz with a good sight of goal about ten yards out but his effort was deflected wide though the crowd had already started celebrating the "goal". Three minutes later from a left sided corner, the now recovered Aitken cleared another effort off the line with Scott seemingly beaten.
With 53 minutes gone, Stuart Davidson replaced Allan Moore who had picked up a knock. The pack was reshuffled again with O'Neill now joining O'Boyle up front and Connelly reverting to his more usual wide right role. In 59 minutes, a great run and cross by Gray caused confusion in the Berwick box but O'Neill's stab at goal from about eight yards was charged down and cleared. In the 72nd minute, great work on the right from O'Boyle left O'Neill in space on the right of the penalty box and his driven cross was very nearly deflected into his own net by a Berwick defender.
In the 81st minute, Queens made a final change with Barry Donald coming on in place of Graham Connell. However, this turned out to be an unfortunate change with Donald injured in his first challenge. He won the ball in a tackle with former Queens loan player Murray McDowall, who had just come on as a substitute for Berwick, but McDowall seemed to land on his leg as he fell. Donald got up slowly and played on for about five minutes before collapsing in front of the dug-outs and being stretchered off the park with his leg in a splint. With all the subs used, this meant playing the remainder of the match with only ten men. In the meantime, Jim Thomson had picked up the game's only booking for a wild kick at the ball which connected only with Craig Feroz. In the final minute, Joe McAlpine had a decent chance on the left of the penalty area but didn't make a really solid connection and McCulloch made a comfortable save.
So another defeat and quite similar to last week in as much as we were the better side in the second half. However, we never really looked like scoring and can't complain too much at the result. Certainly, luck was not on our side today. Feroz's shot was the kind that nine times out of ten would finish out of the ground and we had four injuries which resulted in us playing the better part of quarter of an hour with only the ten men. Berwick were reasonable but little more than that and I expected better of a team now a dozen or so matches undefeated in the League. These are the kind of games you have to win if you have designs on the top two. Again today, results worked pretty well for us with Stranraer also losing and Alloa and Clydebank managing only draws. It continues to tighten up at the top (and bottom!) and anything could yet happen. We next face Forfar at home followed by a double header against Morton and a couple of wins at least are required to keep us in the mix.