For the second time this season Queens returned down the A9 with a 4-1 defeat by Inverness. Any thoughts that the home side might be more intent on Tuesday night's Cup semi-final replay were dispelled with a comfortable win which sets them up to continue their challenge to Clyde. Manager John Connolly made two changes to the side which defeated St Mirren last weekend. One was enforced with David Bagan failing to recover from the ankle knock sustained in that game and Stephen Payne continued in his stead. The other switch saw Alex Burke dropped to the bench with Paul Burns returning to the starting eleven. That meant a strange front pairing of Emilio Jaconelli and Willie Gibson, without a first team goal between them, taking on Inverness' experienced defence. Colin Scott made a welcome return to the bench for the first time since his injury at Clyde in November whilst Sean O'Connor was due to also return to the bench but was injured in warm up. Youngsters Sean Ferrie and Stephen Sloan also made the sixteen.
The home side were first to show after 4 minutes when Bingham's excellent pass gave Barry Wilson a chance to fire just wide of the right post from 10 yards out. Four minutes later Richie Hart's free kick from 25 yards was well saved by Craig Samson, who managed to palm it wide for a corner. On 17 minutes, a misplaced header from Willie Gibson allowed an opponent to slide Wilson again clean through on goal but this time he slid the ball under Samson and three yards wide of target. A minute later at the other end Paton's corner was flapped at by Brown under challenge from Jaconelli and Bowey almost latched onto the rebound. On 22 minutes Bobby Mann picked up a booking for a silly challenge, going right through Jaconelli from behind in midfield. Four minutes later Stephen Payne joined him in Mr Mitchell's notebook for a pull back on Stuart Golabek.
In the 34th minute Stephen Payne, who was having an excellent first half, beat an opponent before shooting goalward from 20 yards only to see Mark Brown just manage to put enough glove on the ball to fumble it wide for a corner. However, on 40 minutes the home side took a deserved lead. Possession was given away in midfield and David Bingham was given time and space to feed a pass to Steve Hislop. Hislop took time to steady himself before shooting past Samson with the aid of a big deflection off of Brian Reid. As if that wasn't bad enough then about 30 seconds later the lead was doubled. Stephen Payne gave the ball away in midfield and Hislop was given space to gallop free down the left side but fortunately his cross was too high for Barry Wilson. However, the ball was retrieved and played back in by Richie Hart where it was met with a powerful header from six yards by David Bingham and bulleted into the back of the net.
By the time the second period started the wind had got up a lot more and would go on to ruin most passing attempts throughout the half. John Connolly sent out the same eleven players for but decided after quarter of an hour to send on Alex Burke in place of Stephen Payne with Willie Gibson dropping into midfield in his place. On 65 minutes John Robertson sent on Liam Keogh in place of Richie Hart and the home side extended their lead a minute later. A big punt from the left back area came down to Earth behind the defence and Barry Wilson ran in to outpace Andy Aitken and tuck the ball into the bottom right corner. In the act of scoring Wilson appeared to pull his hamstring and was immediately replaced with Darren Mackie. A minute later and Paul Ritchie replaced David Bingham to complete the changes for the hosts. On 71 minutes Queens made their second switch replacing Willie Gibson with Jim Thomson which meant Eric Paton moving into midfield whilst Thomson filled in at right back.
On 78 minutes Queens pulled a goal back. Brian McColligan made a great pass inside the defence which allowed Paul Burns to slide a ball across the six yard box for the in-rushing Alex Burke to tuck into the net. However, the reduction in the lead lasted only three minutes as ICT struck back in the 81st minute. Substitute Keogh took advantage of the strong wind to strike a shot from 30 yards which fairly fizzed at Craig Samson. The keeper managed to make an excellent block but Steve Hislop was first to react to the loose ball and knock it behind Samson. That was enough to kill the game dead and both teams were happy to play out time and get off the park.
So a poor result for sure and a disjointed performance, a shame on the back of the successful result over St Mirren last week. However, it was clear that ICT had much more to play for and wanted the result far more. They deserved their win and the best of luck to them on Tuesday night also. For Queens it's back to Palmerston for the next fortnight and first up an opportunity to confirm Brechin's relegation.