The phrase, "A game of two halves" could not be applied to a more appropriate match than that witnessed at Palmerston this afternoon, the first half belonged to Stranraer who commanded the game and kept the home side under the cosh for long periods whilst the second saw the Doonhamers reverse the roles and hammer home their superiority through three very well taken goals.
The Doonhamers reverted to a more familiar line-up with a midfield of Connelly, O'Neill, Connell and McAlpine without any changes to the defence or front-line from Tuesday evening. It was however Stranraer that looked by far the hungrier side in first thirty minutes, without really creating any clear chances. It was only then that Queens started to make their presence felt and it was the lively pairing of Weatherson and Lyle, who look to be the best front combination that we have had all season, that started to break down an extremely well marshalled Stranraer defence.
Their first chance being when Nellie chased a wide ball, took it to the bye line and crossed low for Lyle to clip the ball over the bar under pressure. Just after the thirty minute mark Joe McAlpine setup Nellie to release Derek Lyle but just at the critical moment the on loan Partick striker had the ball taken off his toe.
Queens were getting more success as an attacking force as the half wore on and the Stair Park side were lucky to escape a penalty claim when the ball was clearly handled in their box by a visiting defender. The half though was to end in a booking for Graham Connolly after tangling with Ian Harty just on the half way line.
The second half could not have started any worse, a free-kick on the left hand side of the penalty area was played into the middle of the defence and no home defender was decisive enough in their attempts to clear the ball, eventually it fell to former Queens player Martin Glancy who prodded the ball home to score the fourteenth goal in his almost one hundred senior appearances.
Disaster almost followed as the defence again failed to clear a ball in the box and the crossbar came to the rescue of the homesters.
This was to prove a significant point in the match as just as the visiting manager Billy McLaren was cursing his sides luck for striking the crossbar instead of extending their lead he found his side on level terms as the Doonhamers broke forward through Peter Weatherson's hard work, Nellies effort in placing th ball past the well placed Mark McGeown was pushed away by the goalkeeper, only as far as Derek Lyle though and the young striker drove his shot against a Stranraer defender, the ball then fell to Gordon Connolly who played in a curling cross that looked to have eluded everyone until Joe McAlpine popped up at the back of the crowd and sent a looping header around McGeown and into the net to make it 1-1.
Queens were now playing some good controlled football with the midfield much more commanding than they had been in the first half, a long ball played over the heads of the defence was expertly controlled by Derek Lyle just on the bye line in the box, he played the ball back wide to Gordon Connolly who crossed to Joe McAlpine and with Joe's confidence high from his first goal he composed himself, made some space, picked his spot and finished with some style to make it 2-1.
A minute later and Andy Aitken almost struck for the first time this season as he rose well to a Joe McAlpine corner and sent the ball powerfully towards goal but unfortunately the ball was just wide.
Derek Lyle was particularly impressive today and almost scored a spectacular solo goal as he ran in on goal, had an initial shot that was deflected back to him, he then tip-toed through the defence before sending the ball goalward, however McGeown in the Stranraer goal was out well and managed to collect the ball.
The third goal was not long in coming as Gordon Connolly, carrying an injury from a late tackle moments earlier went to the far side of the pitch and kept possession whilst twisting and turning his marker,he eventually broke free and sent the ball across to John O'Neill on the opposite side of the box, Jonjo took great delight in positioning himself well before striking the ball into the net to make it 3-1 to the homesters.
Stranraer never looked like pulling anything back and Queens played out the game without any trouble and used all three substitutes in the final eighteen minutes.
Unlike Tuesday night the results elsewhere could not have been kinder as bottom sides Morton and Stenhousemuir defeated Clydebank and Alloa respectively thus sending the Dumfries side back to the top of the league for the third time this season.
The ball flies across the face of the goal in a first half Stranraer attack
Martin Glancy causes problems for his former teamates
It's the second half and Joe McAlpine wins an aerial challenge to send John O'Neill on his way
Jonjo celebrates his goal