So Queens have survived, and in the most unlikely of circumstances, pending any Hamilton appeal against the severity of the penalty imposed by the SFL Management Committee.
Queens started with just one change in personnel from last week's defeat by Ross County, Eadie for Boyle. There were however a number of positional changes. George Rowe was restored to centre back alongside Andy Aitken and Kevin Robison moved across to right back to make way for him. Ally McMillan moved from right back to centre midfield alongside Graham Duncan and Ken Eadie led the front line with Warren Hawke.
It was quite apparent that Thursday's events had given the players and management a big lift before kick off and Queens tore into Arbroath straight from the whistle. Indeed, we were one up before 3 p.m. as the game kicked off two minutes early and Warren Hawke had given us the lead inside those two minutes. George Rowe launched a long ball forward which the Arbroath centre back beat Warren to but he was short with the back header. Hawke had kept running and collected the ball before coolly lobbing the advancing 'keeper from the edge of the penalty box.
Arbroath levelled within two further minutes, Robbie Raeside powerfully heading home a left sided corner, and they might have taken the lead on the ten minute mark. Rowe gave away a free kick on the Arbroath right and they worked it well before swinging in a cross which was miskicked with the goal gaping.
However, Queens were not to be outdone and bounced back after thirteen minutes. Sandy Hodge's long throw from the left found it's way through to Ken Eadie who glanced a header in at the far post. Around this time the news came through that Ross County had taken the lead at Hamilton and the terracing noise increased a little.
Queens seized control of the game for more or less the rest of the half. In the sixteenth minute John Dickson's free kick was deflected off the wall and just passed the left post. Within a minute Sandy Hodge's powerful run earned a corner which George Rowe headed just wide of the far post. McMillan then broke free down the right and crossed in towards Hawke. He managed to get a knee to the ball and Hinchcliffe turned it wide for a corner. From the resultant corner the ball broke to Ken Eadie, whose blast towards goal was turned over.
It was all Queens at this point and word had come in that Hamilton had gone two down but a rare foray forward by Arbroath on the half hour mark ended with Colin McGlashan striking a crisp half volley low to Mathieson's left post which "Smiler" turned wide. Normal service was resumed however and Hinchcliffe made another fine stop from Warren Hawke in the 34th minute after fine work by Kevin Robison. In the 37th minute Queens were presented with a gilt edged chance to kill off the "Red Lichties". Weir and Hodge worked a good move down the left and when the cross came in Warren Hawke was clearly pushed going for the ball. PENALTY! John Dickson was the surprising taker (surprising because Ken Eadie has usually been the taker when he's on the field) and he blew the chance of a 3-1 lead by hitting the ball against the right hand post and wide. Just before half time Arbroath had their third reasonable chance when a header from a free kick was placed just wide right and Queens broke up the field almost immediately. McMillan sent Mark Weir away down the left and his cross-cum-shot just missed the top right corner.
The second half almost began exactly as the first had when Ken Eadie seized upon a short headed back pass and drove towards goal but his shot was well saved by Hinchcliffe and, after a fairly quiet spell, Weir beat the offside trap in the 68th minute but stumbled a little as he prepared to shoot and was caught by a defensive tackler. After this though it was Arbroath who took control of the match and Queens attacks were rarer as a bit of siege mentality developed. For all their possession though they only seriously threatened to score on one occasion. This came with nine minutes left and just after ex-Queens favourite Tommy Bryce's appearance as a substitute. The ball broke to the other Arbroath sub, Barry Sellars, about seven yards out or so after a goalmouth melee. He struck a vicious drive towards goal which was somehow deflected up, on to the crossbar and over the top. My first reaction was that Mathieson had made one of the saves of his life but others thought that it was a defensive leg which deflected it. If so then I have no idea which defender it was but whoever it was may well have saved our season with that one touch.
Nothing came of the resulting corner and word arrived that Ross County had scored a third against Hamilton. The remaining time was played almost exclusively in the Queens half but with no real further problems before Arbroath's Jon Crawford was sent off in the final minute for a bad challenge on Warren Hawke. It was his second bookable offence but Warren, to his great credit, picked himself up and tried to persuade the referee not to issue the booking.
The final whistle was greeted with relief by the small, but very noisy, travelling support and players alike. Queens had George Rowe and Mark Weir booked during the game, both for bad challenges.