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FALKIRK 4 : 2 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 18th December 2004
Rating: 6.07
Rating: 5.87
Rating: 6.70
Rating: 6.13
Rating: 5.00
Rating: 6.10
Rating: 6.77
Rating: 6.40
Rating: 6.67
1 S3
Rating: 6.70
1 S2
Rating: 7.10
S1 - 55
Rating: 5.96
S2 - 76
Rating: 4.83
S3 - 79
Rating: 5.12
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.
Queens conceded more than two goals in the league for only the second time all season, and for the second time it was Falkirk who did the damage. The home side today really showed exactly why they are so far clear in this division with fast flowing football that left Queens defending thin air at times,

Iain Scott had virtually a full squad to pick from with only long term absentee Brian Reid completely unavailable. Willie Gibson and Paul Burns reported with flu symptoms yesterday though and Gibson was only considered fit enough to make the bench with Brian McColligan taking is place in what was effectively a five man midfield. Derek Lyle was ploughing a lone furrow up front. Falkirk made three changes from the side that beat St Mirren last week with Mark Campbell returning for the injured John Hughes whilst McKenzie replaced the suspended Scally. Former Queens favourite Andy Thomson was on the bench.

Falkirk started strongly and Scott McKenzie had the first shot from 20 yards after just three minutes but Colin Scott made an easy save. On seven minutes O'Neil's corner was headed goalward by Kevin James and almost turned in by Duffy in the six yard box. However, completely against the run of play Queens grabbed the lead the first time they got inside the Falkirk half. Jim Thomson won possession in his own half and strode out of defence before feeding David Bagan. Bagan played a pass to Bowey and suddenly Queens found themselves in a three on one position with Bowey flanked by McLaughlin and Lyle as he ran forward. Bowser played the pass to Derek Lyle perfectly and the striker continued his recent goal a game run with a fine finish under Allan Ferguson.

Queens defend
As if that wasn't good enough the lead was doubled two minutes later. This time Paul Burns, looking suspiciously offside, hit a low hard cross into the six yard box which was missed by Lyle and Kevin James. Ferguson dived out at it but succeeded only in diverting the ball straight to Brian McLaughlin who buried the ball in the bottom left corner.

If ever there was an example of maybe scoring "too early" though this was it. The sleeping giant was awoken and back came Falkirk with a bang. On 17 minutes it was 2-1 when McBreen ran down the left side away from Paton and his low cross found Pedro Moutinho unmarked inside the six yard box and he easily knocked the ball home.

On 24 minutes Queens missed a great chance to add to their lead when McLaughlin's clever centre from the left was completely missed by Bowey and then hit over the top by Bagan. Two minutes later they paid the penalty for that miss when Daniel McBreen fired home a low left sided cross from about 15 yards out to equalise. Just after the half hour mark, another James header from a corner was headed on and over by Moutinho when he'd have been better to just leave it alone. However, three minutes before the interval Falkirk finally grabbed the lead their play probably deserved. This time John O'Neil teased his way down the right side and hung up a cross from the bye-line. In came the big Australian McBreen to power a header behind Colin Scott and in off the underside of the bar.

The second period started in much the same manner with Falkirk dominant. On 49 minutes Colin Scott made a fine save, tipping a McBreen shot round the post, and a couple of minutes later David Craig produced a simply superb goal saving challenge to deny Duffy. Iain Scott had seen enough and decided to change the formation. On came Willie Gibson for David Bagan and McLaughlin pushed up alongside Lyle to a more basic 4-4-2. The change almost paid early dividends when a James error let Derek Lyle run in behind the defence. The front man cut inside from the right before pulling the ball into the path of young Paul Burns who hammered the ball at goal only for Ferguson to make the save and then smuggle the ball wide for a corner.

At this point to be honest the next goal could have come at either end but when it arrived, in 73 minutes, it came for the home side and finished the game off as a contest. Daryl Duffy somehow found himself clear on goal on the end of a ball over the top. Jim Thomson did very well to get back at Duffy and put in a block tackle but the ball spun away straight to Daniel McBreen who wasted no time in placing the ball in the bottom left corner from 15 yards or so.

Queens defend a Latapy free-kick
Iain Scott made his second change, replacing McLaughlin with Jaconelli and then a third when McNiven came on for Lyle. For his part John Hughes made three changes as the teams played time out. Andy Thomson came on for Moutinho, Davie Nicholls replaced the hat-trick hero McBreen and Colin Marshall swapped with Scott McKenzie. However, there was little further goalmouth action.

Queens gave Falkirk a brief fright today but in the end were well beaten by what is clearly the quality side of this division. Quick and creative with good forwards, it's hard to see any side stopping this one between now and April and an 11 point lead should be more than enough to see them crowned champions at the end of the season. Credit where it's due. For Queens it's back to the planning stage to meet Clyde on Boxing Day. Their win today moved them out of immediate range again whilst Airdrie United and St Johnstone closed up to only a point behind.

Ewan Lithgow
Photographs - David Gow

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