A first league win for John Connolly and his side this afternoon at a rainy Cappielow. There were four changes to the eleven who started against Falkirk in midweek. The injured trio of Dean Muir, Phil Nixon and Paddy Atkinson returned in place of Kevin Robison, Steven Pickering and John Sunderland. New signing Steve Preen made his first start in place of Mark Weir and Warren Hawke dropped into a withdrawn role behind the front two to accommodate him.
Queens began in determined fashion and in the very first minute Preen broke into the box on the left and had a shot across the face of the goal which was deflected out for a corner. In the ninth minute, a Paddy Atkinson pass put Preen through again but former Clyde and Morton keeper David Wylie was out quickly to just beat him to the ball. Two minutes later a Paddy Atkinson corner was headed back across goal by Andy Martin at the back post to his centre back partner, Phil Nixon. Phil's header low to the keeper's right was just scrambled away by Wylie.
However, against the run of play, Clydebank took the lead in the twelfth minute. A Queens attack broke down and Dean Muir found himself caught out of position as the "Bankies" broke up their left side. When the cross came in Tommy Coyne found himself in plenty of space at the back post with time to pick his spot and head past the helpless David Mathieson. After this though it was Clydebank who took control of the game as the Queens heads dropped. On sixteen minutes, an Aitken error let another Clydebank attack down the left and Eddie Fal shot across the face of the goal.
On 31 minutes, a rare Queens foray forward saw Sandy Hodge pick up the ball on the left and cut inside before shooting powerfully into the side netting with his "wrong" right foot from all of 25 yards. On the forty minute mark, another rare attack saw good work on the right from Peter Weatherson set Warren Hawke free. He crossed from the right side to the arriving Sandy Hodge who headed just wide from 8 yards or so at the back post.
These were very much against the run of play at the time though so it was a surprise when Queens found themselves level just before half time. Again it was Peter Weatherson who set it up, sending Ross Atkinson through the "Bankies" defence. Atkinson was heading away from goal towards the left corner flag but Fraser Wishart put in a needless sliding challenge which caught Atkinson just as he crossed the corner of the penalty box. After a moments hesitation referee, Dougie Smith, awarded the spot-kick to Queens. Peter Weatherson seized the ball and buried the penalty in the bottom left corner of the net. Right on the half time whistle Peter Weatherson went down theatrically around halfway and was booked for diving.
At half-time manager, John Connolly made his first change, bringing on Tony Nelson in place of Sandy Hodge. Paddy Atkinson dropped into Hodge's left wing-back role. The change almost paid immediate dividends when Atkinson's left wing cross found Warren Hawke at the back post. The striker headed back across the face of goal where Ross Atkinson got on the end of it but he couldn't get any power in his shot. A minute later, it was Clydebank's turn to threaten when a free-kick on the left was eventually worked into the penalty box. It was cleared to the edge of the area but met by Rab McKinnon and the former Motherwell full-back's shot just missed the left post. In 52 minutes, a poor clearance by David Wylie allowed Tony Nelson to play in Steve Preen down the right. The former Gateshead front man went over an outstretched leg in the penalty area but was booked for his "dive" by Mr Smith. If this referee had been in charge of the Airdrie game the other week they would have finished with at least half a dozen bookings!
In 54 minutes, a Dean Muir corner from the left was headed back from the back post by Andy Martin to Hawke but the striker volleyed over from 6 yards out. Back came the "Bankies" again though and they might have had a penalty of their own when Mr Smith adjudged Eddie Fal to have been pushed on the edge of the box and awarded a free-kick. For me the foul was dubious but given that he gave a foul at all, I thought Fal was in the penalty box. Phil Nixon blocked the kick and it ran for a corner which came to naught. On 59 minutes, Connolly made change number two when Steven Pickering replaced the tiring Dean Muir. Clydebank also made a change and Eddie Fal limped off to be replaced by Callaghan. Four minutes later, Andy Aitken joined the two forwards in the referee's notebook for a foul about ten yards outside the penalty area. Rab McKinnon took the free-kick direct but Mathieson easily smothered it low to his right.
On 66 minutes Queens made their final change when John Sunderland replaced Peter Weatherson, with Hawke moving up front to join Preen. The change paid immediate dividends when Queens were awarded a free-kick midway inside the Clydebank half a minute later. Sunderland's first touch was to take the kick but he waited for Andy Martin who seemed to make a late decision to join in the set piece. The defender ran from the halfway line and never broke stride as he rose to power a header from the perfectly floated kick beyond David Wylie. The defence seemed mesmerised by the late run and failed to even put in a decent challenge.
However, within a minute of the restart Martin's head was needed at the other end of the pitch to clear a dangerous corner kick and, from a second corner, his partner Phil Nixon did the same. A minute later, a throw from the left found it's way to Tommy Coyne in the box and the player-manager's lay off was volleyed over by Rab McKinnon. In the 71st minute, Queens earned a corner on the left and, after some initial confusion with Dean Muir no longer on the pitch, Paddy Atkinson went across to take it. His near post kick was met by Andy Aitken who headed against the crossbar. The ball was never properly cleared and some tremendous work by Nelson down the left side gave him the opportunity to put in a superb back post cross which was just headed over by Hawke.
After this though Clydebank threw all they had at Queens but the defence coped very well, looking a far more solid unit with Nixon back in the fold. The final minutes were notable for another two Queens players being booked. On 73 minutes, John Sunderland got involved with Clydebank's trialist No 7 off the ball and seemed to be booked for his trouble. I say "seemed to be" because referee Smith called him over gave him a lecture and then made a note in his book. However, he never actually showed a yellow card so perhaps it wasn't a booking. In the final minute, Steven Pickering was booked for a sliding challenge on McKinnon.
Queens held on though and the delight on the faces of the players was clear on the final whistle. This was a hard earned win in a game which could have gone either way and is exactly the kind of result we need more of. We got a bit of luck at the right time to get back in the game when we looked like dropping out of it but, for me, we just about did enough to win it with the back three particularly outstanding.