The prospects of a cup run this season remained intact following a hard fought but richly deserved win in Greenock this afternoon. The performance was completely different to the one on the same ground two weeks ago as an assured show saw off Morton. Following the last two poor results, John Connolly rung the changes, both in terms of personnel and formation. The team lined up in a 4-4-1-1 formation and showed three player changes. Paddy Atkinson came in at left back which allowed Joe McAlpine to push forward into a wide left midfield role and Andy Aitken lined up with Stuart Davidson in the midfield engine room. Graham Connell dropped to the bench along with Jon Crawford, who was the unlucky one of the regular back three. Martin Glancy was ineligible, having signed too late to play in the First Round. John O'Neill played a little further forward to link with Weatherson.
Queens started well and looked very sharp as they pulled the Morton defence all over the place and it was no shock at all when we took the lead after just seven minutes. It started with a free kick taken out of defence by Andy Aitken. The ball was knocked long down the right side and, although it was met by a defender, it wasn't properly cleared. Alan Gray picked up possession and interchanged passes with Gordon Connelly before sending over a peach of a low cross. John O'Neill found himself completely unmarked on the edge of the six yard box and sent a diving header past the helpless Coyle in the Morton goal. Three minutes later, Paddy Atkinson picked up a ball in the middle of the park and stepped forward before shooting just over from 25 yards. In the 12th minute, more good work on the right from Connelly resulted in another cross towards O'Neill at the near post which John this time sent looping over the bar. The pressure continued and, after 2 minutes, Peter Weatherson picked up a loose ball and shot powerfully at goal from 20 yards out. Coyle could only parry the ball back out but was just able to reach the rebound himself before Joe McAlpine got there.
It was all Queens to this point and no surprise at all when the lead was doubled after 29 minutes. This time Weatherson made an excellent run across the defensive line, just staying onside, before sending Connelly galloping free down the right again. His cross to the penalty spot was again met by that man O'Neill, who stretched to prod home his thirteenth goal of the season. No bad return from midfield!
However, just after this, the defence seemed to lose concentration again for five minutes or so and Morton found their way back into the game. First a Jim Thomson slip let Sean O'Connor through on goal and the on loan Dundee United striker struck a powerful shot which Scott was able to block and then drop on at the second attempt. In the next attack Scott was forced to block with his feet as a Morton player broke into the box and the ball went out for a corner. However, we weren't so fortunate when the third chance came along from that corner. The ball was sent to the back post where Scott met it but chose to punch when a catch looked relatively easy. The punch was decent but didn't go far enough and it was hammered back into the net from the edge of the box by Chris Aitken.
Queens bounced back and, in 37 minutes, Gordon Connelly's quickly taken free kick allowed Davidson to get a cross into the box. O'Neill tried an overhead kick but saw it blocked and Weatherson was adjudged to have controlled the rebound with his hand.
The second half was a much more mundane affair. The first chance of note came in the 63rd minute when Weatherson and O'Neill worked an opening for McAlpine down the left and his cross to the back post saw Gordon Connelly turn inside his marker and prod an effort goalwards which Coyle saved with his feet. On 72 minutes, Colin Scott rushed from his line to block a shot from a Morton forward (it was difficult to pick out the numbers on their shirts against the hoops!) after a good run and cut back down the right side. In the aftermath of this attack, Joe McAlpine picked up Queens first and only booking of the game, presumably for dissent, after words with the referee.
In the 77th minute, Peter Weatherson won the ball in a tackle out on the left touchline and moved towards goal before unleashing a powerful drive from the left edge of the box. Coyle did well to block the drive and his defender just managed to beat Andy Aitken of all people to the rebound. A minute later, Graham Connell came on in place of O'Neill as Connolly sought to see out the match with what we had.
There was only one more opportunity in the match and it came three minutes into injury time as Morton pushed for an equaliser. From a left sided corner the ball somehow found it's way to O'Connor at the back post but, in space just four yards out, he somehow managed to scoop his shot over the top. That was as close as the Greenock side came and it's Alloa away in the next round for us. At least we shouldn't be caught up in horrendous traffic snarl ups caused by Rangers fans leaving Ibrox for that one!
Queens attacking again.
More forward play.
Thanks to David Gow for the match photographs.