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St JOHNSTONE 2 : 1 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 10th December 2005
Rating: 4.92
Rating: 4.86
Rating: 5.79
Rating: 7.00
Rating: 4.62
Rating: 6.00
Rating: 6.50
Rating: 4.31
Rating: 4.31
Rating: 4.25
Rating: 4.58
S2 - 67
Rating: 4.00
S3 - 69
Rating: 4.08
S1 - 46
Rating: 5.23
Members of the Internet Fan Club can award players marks out of ten for their performance today. The player with the most points awarded in the two days following a match will be the IFC Man of the Match. All of the points will then be added to a running total for each player and the results published in the mom League Table.

Name or IFC No.
It was better, much better in fact than last week, but it was still a loss in Perth today in front of a sparse December crowd. After the complete failure of the three at the back system at Airdrie Ian McCall made one change, bringing back Tommy English for Chris Carr but reverted to a back four in a 4-4-2 formation. With David McNiven absent through injury Scott Robertson stepped into the squad on the bench.

The home side were first to threaten in the opening minute with Kevin James heading on a right wing corner and John Henry at the back post lashed a shot against Colin Scott's legs and out for a corner. Queens first effort at goal arrived in 13 minutes after some good football resulted in Paul Burns taking a shot from 20 yards which was easily dealt with by Kevin Cuthbert. In 19 minutes Jim Thomson and Gary Wood combined to thwart some pressure at the ultimate expense of a corner. The danger however was not gone and when the ball was played in Kevin James dove full length to direct a low header at goal which was parried out by a combination of Colin Scott and a defender. Sadly though the ball fell straight to the feet of Jason Scotland standing about a foot from the goal line and even I could have finished from there. Scotland was no less deadly. Kevin James had received a head knock as a result of his bravery and left the field for about ten minutes to receive some stitches before eventually returning with his head swathed in a bandage.

Match action
As St Johnstone reorganised with James off the park Queens strove for an equaliser. In 21 minutes Paul Burns made the bye-line and put in a cross which was headed on by Bowey and, although half cleared, Eric Paton had a swipe from 22 yards out fly wide of target. The only Scotland destined for the 2006 World Cup was proving a handful though and one superb run from his own half saw half a dozen players trailing in his wake before he set up Paul Sheerin for a strike across the face of goal that Colin Scott appeared to tip wide although referee Charlie Richmond awarded a goal kick. On 27 minutes, from a free kick rather harshly given for a challenge on Scotland by Wood, Darren Sheridan hammered a shot narrowly past the bottom right corner. Five minutes before the interval Stuart Lovell showed dissent by kicking the ball away following yet another soft free kick given to the home side and was duly booked as a result. Two minutes before the break Ryan Stevenson showed a clean pair of heels down the right side and his cross yielded a couple of opportunities for his side blocked first by Eric Paton and then by Gary Wood.

During the first half there were a couple of instances where Ian McCall had come from his dug out to shout at Colin Scott and it as quickly apparent that the manager had decided to take more serious action as Richie Barnard appeared at half time to do a full warm up before duly replacing Scott for the second 45 minutes. It was also quickly apparent that McCall had made a tactical switch too with Steve Bowey and Willie Gibson swapping positions, Bowey moving to the left of midfield and Gibson playing inside. Meanwhile for the opposition it was obviously decided to take no more risk with Kevin James' head injury and he was replaced by Steven Anderson who slotted in at right back with Simon Mensing moving inside to centre half.

Match action
Just before the hour mark Queens missed an excellent chance to get back into the game. Sheridan gave away a foul inside his own half for jumping into Derek Lyle and when the kick was delivered into the box Gary Wood was first to the ball, just needing the right touch to steer it behind Cuthbert. Unfortunately he got too much of a touch and put the ball over the crossbar. A minute later Owen Coyle made his second change with Ryan McCann replacing namesake Ryan Stevenson. On 63 minutes the hosts doubled their lead out of nothing. It came from a long ball out of their back four which found Steven Milne haring away behind the Queens defence and clean through on Barnard. He wasted no time in placing the ball behind the big Englishman and into the bottom right corner.

In the 66th minute Stuart Lovell, who had picked up an injury a few minutes earlier was replaced by Scott Robertson who surprisingly went to right midfield with Burns moving inside to join Gibson. Three minutes later came the final change with Chris Carr replacing Derek Lyle which meant Gary Wood moving up front. The substitutions were completed on 75 minutes when Jason Scotland was replaced by Stephen Dobbie.

With eight minutes remaining Eric Paton went on a fine run from halfway and beat two opponents before shooting narrowly wide of the bottom right corner from the edge of the penalty box. As we moved into the final minute a fine passing move by Queens was ended with Gibson hitting a decent shot which forced Kevin Cuthbert into his first worthwhile save of the day low to his left side. In the aftermath of the save John O'Neill somehow got himself booked by Mr Richmond but I failed to see what he did for it. We thought that was that but we were wrong. As the clock ticked into injury time a long ball into the St Johnstone penalty area was headed half clear but Gary Wood lashed the loose ball into the top right corner from 25 yards with Kevin Cuthbert absolutely motionless! How ironic it would have been after a series of controversial late goals against us at McDiarmid if we had somehow managed to generate an injury time equaliser. Sadly, although Mr Richmond added three minutes it wasn't to be, with a fine Anderson tackle denying O'Neill the only half chance of the remaining period.

With Stranraer snatching a late point at home to Airdrie we drop now seven points adrift of our Galloway rivals. Crucial then that we pick up something at home to Dundee next weekend.

Ewan Lithgow
Photographs - David Gow

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