A first ever win for the club in Dingwall today as the excellent form continued and another three points went in the Palmerston bank. After making wholesale changes to the side for Tuesday night's fixture with Arbroath there were another five for today's game. Peter Weatherson was back from suspension and Brian McColligan back from injury. In addition, Derek Allan, Derek Lyle and Joe McAlpine stepped up from the bench into the starting line up whilst Paton, O'Connor, McLaughlin and Dawson returned there and Renicks dropped out of the squad altogether.
The match started fairly slowly but it was clear from the early stages that Queens had assumed control of the flow. The first chance of any note arrived after seven minutes from a throw on the right side. Weatherson chested a pass into the path of John O'Neill who struck a fine shot wide of the right post from the edge of the penalty box. The first really good chance came on 20 minutes when Weatherson flicked an Andy Aitken clearance on for Bowey to run in behind the defence. He ran into the box before shooting at Bullock in the County goal. The Englishman made a good block but "Bowser" picked up the rebound and squared it across goal for Weatherson only to see him miss his kick with the goal gaping from 12 yards. In the 28th minute another attack down the right side saw Lyle and Weatherson combine to allow Bowey the time to play in O'Neill in front of goal but the ball seemed to get stuck between his legs and was partially cleared before Bowey struck the loose ball goalward. Unfortunately it deflected clear off O'Neill who was hurt in the process. Eight minutes later Derek Allan sent Weatherson clear on the right and his cross picked out Bowey again in the box but this time the midfielder went down in a tangle of legs. Referee Steven Conroy saw nothing wrong in the challenge though. A minute later County showed for the first time really when Jim Thomson blocked a header from Steven Ferguson about three yards out though Colin Scott probably had it covered anyway.
The rally was brief though and in the 40th minute it was Queens who grabbed the lead their play deserved. It came from a throw in on the left side. Peter Weatherson gained possession and ran into the box, committing defenders as he went. The ball spun free in a challenge about 12 yards out but John O'Neill was first to the loose ball and controlled it before coolly shooting past Bullock and into the left side of the goal.
County came out for the second period clearly determined to pull back the goal and put in a decent amount of pressure from the start. Four minutes in and McGarry deflected a cross goalward and Scott needed two attempts to smother it. A couple of minutes later Ferguson cracked a shot just wide of the left post from outside the penalty area. On 55 minutes, Bayne headed on for McGarry to strike at goal from 18 yards. His powerful shot hit the side netting though he was clearly annoyed not to get a corner for his troubles. Three minutes later and County came as close as they did all day. Ferguson it was again who placed his shot perfectly towards the top left corner from outside the box again only for Colin Scott to match it with a flying tip round the post and out for a corner.
Queens in defensive mode. Thanks to the Duke of Galloway for the photograph.
Queens had weathered the pressure though and in 65 minutes almost doubled the advantage. A quite brilliant cross-field diagonal ball from Brian McColligan sent McAlpine free behind the County defence and he made towards the bye-line before hammering across the face of goal. Fortunately for the home side it was a defender who hacked it away from the back post area before Weatherson could latch onto it. Four minutes later Kenny Gilbert picked up the game's first booking for dissent.
On 71 minutes Bowey seized a loose ball and strode into the box with O'Neill for support. He elected to shoot rather than pass though and Bullock again blocked the effort. That was O'Neill's last involvement as he left the field clutching his hamstring to be replaced with Sean O'Connor. The big man wasted no time at all in having an impact on the match as he doubled the advantage within three minutes. Brian McColligan thumped the ball clear from the midfield over the top of the home defence and Sean O'Connor was the quickest to react. He beat Bullock in the race to the ball, lifting it over the keeper on the edge of his box and collecting it again as it dropped before knocking it home. There was a moment of panic as it seemed he'd actually missed the open target from ten yards but fortunately it went in off the left post!
With quarter of an hour to go big Brian Irvine finally picked up the booking he'd been asking for all game when he left Bowey in a heap in a midfield challenge. The home side then made two changes in a bid to rescue the game with Cowie and Winters replacing Gilbert and McGarry. Two minutes later though it was Queens scoring a third in a freak manner. McAlpine and Bowey combined brilliantly for the latter to burst into the box. He made the bye-line unchallenged before firing across the face of goal towards Weatherson at the back post. Before it could reach him though it was intercepted by Steven Mackay who took the time to look up before blasting the ball high into the roof of his own net in a very similar manner to Greg Shields own goal in the recent Kilmarnock v Dunfermline match. With seven minutes remaining Eric Paton replaced Derek Lyle and Tassos Venetis replaced Steven Ferguson for the home side. In injury time, Graham Bayne had a header from ten yards comfortably covered by Scott and the clean sheet was secured as the whistle for full time blew immediately.
A comprehensive victory this over a home side who look to have serious relegation problems now, just three points ahead of Alloa who now have two games in hand. Combined with Clyde's win over Ayr it also moved us up to fifth again albeit that Ayr have a game in hand against Alloa to be played on Tuesday coming. I feel it is also worth noting that in all my year's of watching football I've only ever twice seen an away player take the sponsor's man of the match award, both times being at Dingwall. In 1999 Steve Mallan was given it after a 1-1 draw ; today it was Steve Bowey who earned the accolade from the home sponsors. Well done to them for their sportsmanship.