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HAMILTON 0 : 2 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 25th March 2006
Rating: 8.39
Rating: 5.90
Rating: 7.12
Rating: 7.56
Rating: 6.10
Rating: 7.10
Rating: 6.15
Rating: 6.80
Rating: 6.52
Rating: 6.70
Rating: 6.63
S1 - 27
Rating: 6.63
S2 - 55 1
Rating: 7.05
S3 - 73
Rating: 5.90
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.
With Stranraer at home to doomed Brechin today this was always likely to be a crucial game for Queens. At a venue we've never won at that was always going to be a hard ask but in the event Ian McCall's much changed line up accomplished a win that keeps them right up with Stranraer. McCall made three changes to the line up which started against Stranraer last week, the most surprising of which saw Colin Scott, presumably with an injury, dropped to the bench for Barnard. It was telling that Scott did not at any time appear on the pitch to warm up, even when Barnard was injured in the second half and presumably his presence on the bench was strictly for emergency use! Elsewhere Andy Thomson who is still struggling with his injury was replaced in the starting eleven with Derek Lyle and Tommy English dropped out altogether allowing Shaun Dillon into the team and John O'Neill back onto the bench. To no-one's surprise Sean O'Connor was not risked.

It was not exactly an all action start and indeed it was 15 minutes before I noted anything down, that being an Eric Paton shot that flew about ten yards over the bar! On 22 minutes came a serious blow when Jim Thomson suffered a badly gashed head in a clash with Brian Wake and initially left the park for stitches. However, it soon became clear that he wasn't going to be able to continue and so Gary Wood was brought on in defence this time though by the time he got on we'd played five minutes with ten men.

Anything good that Accies were producing was coming through Gilhaney and just before the half hour he turned Shaun Dillon inside out before pulling the ball back for Scott Agnew to loop a shot onto the roof of the net though Barnard appeared to be happy to leave it. Three minutes later from a free kick on halfway the ball was helped into the box and Steven Thomson headed towards the bottom left corner but Barnard covered the effort easily. On 34 minutes a clever pass from Juanjo released Wake clean in on Barnard and with Wood hacking back at him the ex-Gretna man muscled through for a shot and forced a superb block out of Barnard. The rebound was turned back to Juanjo and the Spaniard was unlucky to see his effort go just wide.

Queens force a corner
Suddenly though Queens came alive. First on 35 minutes Paul Burns had a 25 yard effort which stung the palms of Dave McEwan in the goal and then two minutes later Andy Aitken of all people had a hit from 30 yards which seemed destined for the top corner until McEwan flew to tip it wide. The breakthrough was only delayed a few seconds though as from the resulting corner Ryan McStay crossed beyond the back post and Paul Burns lifted the ball over McEwan and towards goal on a controlled volley. The unfortunate Brian Wake could only help the ball into his own net in attempting to clear but Burns will get the credit and rightly so. On 42 minutes the lead was so early doubled when Lyle almost struck the goal of the season. Seizing on a bouncing ball fully 40 yards out he wheeled and volleyed in an instant and only a magnificent backwards diving tip away from McEwan prevented the ball from bulging the net again. If Queens were threatening to get carried away though they got a warning shot just before the break when Agnew again went close from the edge of the box.

Burnsy nets - from David Gow on the terraces.
Queens began the second half in determined mood and Ryan McStay forced a decent save out of McEwan with a 25 yard free kick. The home side showed they weren't prepared to give up without a fight though and Barnard was soon making a decent block again at the feet of Wake. Dillon forced another reasonably comfortable save out of McEwan before Ian McCall felt the need to make his second change with John O'Neill replacing Ryan McStay in centre midfield. Within a minute though Juanjo was forcing another fine block out of Barnard after twisting his way to an opening in the penalty area. On 59 minutes Billy Reid made his first change sending on Brian Carrigan for Paul McMullan.

On 62 minutes though Queens doubled their advantage. It came from a fine break down left side involving Bowey, Dillon and Weir which eventually resulted in Dillon's cross missing out Lyle and finding John O'Neill making one of his patented late runs into the box. A super touch to control the ball and just as the challenge reached him a rifled shot ripped behind McEwan and into the roof of the net.

Action in the box
Billy Reid decided a double change was called for and replaced Wake and Agnew with Keogh and Tunbridge. To be honest I wasn't sad to see the back of Wake who caused us more than a few problems all day and a lot more than Keogh did in the remainder of the game. The substitutions were completed on 73 minutes when Andy Thomson replaced Graham Weir who had put in his usual shift up front. Three minutes later Bowey produced a magnificent perfect goal saving challenge in his own box as Juanjo lined up to shoot home from 15 yards out. The home side kept pushing but their hearts must finally have been broken when Mark McLaughlin's howitzer of a strike from 25 yards for the top corner was clawed away by an equally magnificent diving save from the impressive Barnard. A minute later Barnard finally missed a cross and a back post header was turned goalward by Elebert only for the keeper to make a half block and do just enough to allow Andy Aitken time to hammer the ball off the line. There was still time for John O'Neill to pick up a booking for a cynical trip on Gilhaney and Mark McLaughlin to join him there for dissent after an Accies soft penalty appeal was waved away.

Stranraer of course produced their expected 2-0 win over Brechin so it's still all square and all to play for with five weeks left. They do still have one game in hand which will be taken care of at Hamilton on Tuesday night. After that we'll have a better idea where we stand. All we can do is concentrate on our own results and keep totting up points. This was a good three points along the way.

Ewan Lithgow
Photographs and video clip - David Gow

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