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St.MIRREN 2 : 2 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 22nd February 2003
Rating: 6.10
Rating: 5.66
Rating: 6.97
Rating: 5.84
Rating: 6.22
Rating: 5.78
- 1
Rating: 7.09
Rating: 6.31
Rating: 5.97
Rating: 7.34
- 1
Rating: 6.72
S1 - 46
Rating: 7.05
S2 - 60
Rating: 5.72
S3 - 78
Rating: 5.03
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In the grand scheme of things this may well turn out to be a decent point for Queens to have picked up this afternoon. We didn't get out of the blocks at all, were second best for much of the opening period and trailed twice, yet gained a hard earned draw at the end of the day. There were two changes to the team which faced Aberdeen on Tuesday night, Peter Weatherson returned to the front line in place of the stricken Sean O'Connor and Derek Allan made a long awaited return to the back four in place of Derek Anderson. Alan Gray returned to the bench and new signing Ben Dawson made the 16 as well. The home side were without a number of players through injury, most notably top scorer Martin Cameron.

Queens were the first to show in an attacking sense three minutes in when McColligan and McLaughlin combined on the left side for the former to send in a decent cross which was sliced into the air by O'Neill and caught near his goal-line by young Robertson in the home goal. It was a slow start though and almost a quarter of an hour had passed before St Mirren showed as an attacking side with Scott McLean jinking his way into the box before prodding a shot towards Scott when faced by Andy Aitken. Straight up the other end of the park and Renicks had an effort from thirty yards well smothered by Robertson. The "Buddies" were soon back on the attack though and a great run and cross down the right side seemed to present an easy chance for the incoming Ricky Gillies but he somehow managed to clear the ball away from goal rather than shoot from eight yards out.

However, St Mirren wasted no more time in taking the lead and it was two of their new signings who combined to great effect. Mark Roberts showed great control to beat McLaughlin and Aitken before sending a pass sliding across the face of goal. Colin Scott failed to cut it out and Scott McLean was left with the simple task of finishing from about two yards out in a central position. Queens tried to hit back immediately and Weatherson slid a great pass forward to Bowey. John O'Neill was clearly standing in an offside position at the time but made no effort to get involved so Bowey was allowed to go on and was upended by the out-rushing Robertson. Referee George Clyde was happy that the goalkeeper had got ball first though and, to be fair, Bowser made no complaint about it.

This was the pre-cursor to plenty of St Mirren pressure for the rest of the half. After 18 minutes, a great run and cross down the right side by McHale left McLean with a free header six yards out but he placed it wide of target. A sporadic Queens foray forward three minutes later led to Weatherson sending a glancing header from a right sided cross across the face of goal but McLaughlin, beyond the back post, could only shoot high and wide from the tight angle. A minute later though McLean beat the offside trap and made it to the bye-line before sending another low cut back across the face of goal but fortunately this time no-one else could make the ground up and Renicks turned the ball out for a corner. The same defender though was caught in possession deep in his own half within seconds and left St Mirren with a three against two situation but Allan and Thomson between them did well to smother the danger. From the resulting corner, Colin Scott completely missed a punch and McLean again had a free header at goal but he was off target and it was headed behind for yet another corner. This time McLean again met it with a header and beat Scott but his effort was cleared off the line by a defender.

Just after the half hour mark, Ricky Gillies struck a shot from 25 yards following a half cleared corner just past the post although Scott seemed to have it covered. However, two minutes later McColligan lifted a good cross into the box which presented Weatherson with a good headed chance but he nodded wide of the left post with Robertson struggling to get across. Normal service was resumed though when Roberts narrowly missed the left post with another low shot from 25 yards out in the 36th minute. The home side, and indeed McLean, very nearly doubled their tally with five minutes of the half remaining when he played a one-two in the box and almost slid the ball under Colin Scott from six yards but the 'keeper just managed to grab the ball as it passed under his body. A minute later McLean again struck from the edge of the box this time narrowly over the top but, straight up the other end, Weatherson laid off a pass to McLaughlin running into the box and he tried to curl a shot round Robertson but the young goalkeeper was able to reach the ball and save. The half ended with Queens again defending a number of dangerous corner kicks.

John Connolly made a half-time switch with Joe McAlpine replacing Brian McLaughlin on the left side. Young Kris Robertson had impressed in the first half but seemed to have brought his "Teflon" gloves out for the second half, twice dropping crosses in amongst feet in the opening moments of the half. Pretty much out of nothing on 50 minutes Queens produced an equaliser. A St Mirren move was broken up in midfield and Bowey brought the ball clear before sending a pass out wide to Eric Paton. Paton did very well to turn his defender before sending in an excellent low cross. First to the ball was John O'Neill who just flicked a toe at the ball six yards out and saw it bounce against the far post and into the net.

If we were maybe a little fortunate to be on level terms, we gave the advantage straight back within a minute. Derek Allan and Jim Thomson both tried to head the same ball and got in each other's way allowing the ball to drop to Robbers again. He made the goal-line on the left side of the penalty area before cutting the ball back into the danger area. A home striker seemed set to score but was barged out of the way by McColligan and Mr Clyde had no hesitation in awarding the penalty kick. Colin Scott saved the last one he faced but was sent the wrong way this time as Ricky Gillies duly restored the lead.

The lead should really have been doubled a few minutes later as Derek Allan was dreadfully short with a pass back but the St Mirren striker seemed slow to realise that the ball was there for the taking and then "bottled" out of it when Colin Scott met him on the edge of the box. The loose ball was duly belted clear by Steven Renicks. From the resulting throw in though St Mirren were awarded a free kick for a challenge in the corner by Thomson. Big Jim was clearly unimpressed by the decision and gave the assistant referee a few "verbals" and was duly booked for dissent. From the resulting kick though it was Thomson who headed away from the line under pressure.

Throw in

Again though Queens suddenly produced an equaliser from nowhere. It all started with the home side on the attack. Derek Allan hacked the ball away from the six yard box as far as McColligan on the edge of the penalty area. He brought the ball out before passing it on to Bowey. "Bowser" moved the ball on to O'Neill before making a great run behind the defence. O'Neill tried to pick him out with a pass but it was intercepted by a defensive foot, only to bounce straight back into John's stride. This time he ran towards the box before playing a delicate chip across the box to the back post area. Peter Weatherson beat Kris Robertson to the ball and pulled it back across the face of goal to where Steve Bowey had continued his run and he was able to knock the ball into the empty net from six yards.

Midfield Action

Immediately after the goal Connolly replaced Eric Paton with Derek Lyle and, perhaps surprisingly, Derek played a right midfield role with Peter staying up front when the opposite would perhaps have been the more obvious move. St Mirren tried to hit back and a deep cross from the right side on 62 minutes was reached by Gillies beyond the back post and his effort was deflected of Derek Allan for a corner kick via the outside of the post. From the resulting corner though it was Queens who nearly scored. John O'Neill found himself in acres of space on the break and cut into the penalty area before going down with only Robertson between him and goal. I have to say from where I was I thought he'd simply slipped and the referee obviously thought so too but John clearly thought he'd been fouled from behind and protested until he joined Jim Thomson in Mr Clyde's notebook. Queens were beginning to look like they could win the game now though and on 67 minutes Bowey and McColligan combined to gain possession in midfield before Bowey sent Weatherson clear down the right side. He beat his opponent before firing a cross come shot across the face of goal which was just above O'Neill's head and just wide of goal.

With quarter of an hour remaining Derek Allan headed a corner goalward but it didn't have enough power in it and Robertson made what you might call a "television save" of unnecessary acrobatics. The home side made their first change with just over ten minutes left when Dunbar replaced Rudden and two minutes later we made our third switch with Alan Gray replacing Renicks. With five minutes left David Lowing replaced Mark Roberts for the home side and immediately St Mirren broke up the left side and McGinty turned Gray before hitting a great curling shot which Scott could only parry away, fortunately just beyond the reach of McLean. The defence seemed at sixes and sevens in the final few minutes and Ricky Gillies within thirty second hammered over the bar from just 12 yards out. As the game moved into injury time the home fans had a big shout for a penalty following a challenge on McLean by Thomson but for my money it was a clean challenge. In the 4th minute of injury time Gillies again might have won it for the home side as he picked up a poor headed clearance and stumbled in towards goal but, under pressure from Gray, his effort carried little power and Colin Scott was able to save again. That was the last action though and we took home a point.

All in all, it wasn't a great performance form the team, perhaps reflecting a long journey and late night in midweek. In the circumstances then it was a decent point to get which keeps us away from the bottom sides and on St Mirren's heels. We also showed that we have the fighting qualities to pull a result out of the bag when not playing at our best.

Ewan Lithgow

Match photos - David Gow

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