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ROSS COUNTY 0 : 0 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 30th December 2006
Rating: 6.47
Rating: 6.07
J Thomson
Rating: 6.53
Rating: 5.40
Rating: 7.00
Rating: 5.38
Rating: 6.38
Rating: 5.69
Rating: 6.08
Rating: 5.43
Rating: 5.79
S1 - 46
Rating: 5.43
S2 - 58
A Thomson
Rating: 5.25
S3 - 75
Rating: 5.38
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.
To no great surprise Ian McCall made no change to the side that defeated Livingston last week, naming exactly the same eleven in exactly the same formation. The only change in the sixteen was the return of Paul Burns to the bench in place of Barry Callaghan. County were shorn of Don Cowie through injury and Kevin McKinlay through suspension but included former Queens keeper Craig Samson and on loan former Scotland international Lee Wilkie.

Queens made a bright start but the most notable incident of the early exchanges was Wilkie somehow escaping without a booking after an agricultural challenge on Sean O'Connor out by the touchline. Shortly afterwards though Wilkie was surprisingly outmuscled by Graham Weir who found himself with a 40 yard run on goal as a result. Puzzlingly though he delayed and delayed until cover got back and the opportunity ended without even a shot on goal! Queens best chance of the opening period came in 16 minutes when Sean O'Connor won the ball in the air and controlled before slipping a lovely reverse pass into John O'Neill on the right side of the penalty area. Given the freedom of Dingwall though the midfielder could only drag his shot across goal and wide. Shortly afterward Eric Paton wasn't far away with a shot from distance towards the top corner.

Queens press from the middle of the park
Just before that Paton shot County were forced to bring Neil Hooks on as sub in place of the injured Craig Gun and that change would become important very soon. For now though Queens continued to dominate and a Jim Thomson cross on the half hour was headed goalward by O'Connor and blocked by Wilkie. Needless to say then, after half an hour of Queens being on top, County broke the deadlock with their first meaningful effort. On 33 minutes Wilkie won possession in the box from a free kick and knocked the ball back to McCulloch whose back post cross was met with a looping header by Neil Hooks. Hinchclife was unable to get back across goal in time and the ball dropped under the bar.

Queens attempted to bounce back and in 36 minutes County survived a penalty appeal when Weir appeared to be barged over in attempting to get on the end of an O'Connor flick into the box. However, it was County who came closest to a goal a minute before the break when Jim Thomson beat Higgins to the ball but cleared the ball against the County man with the loose ball springing Martin Scott clear. This time it was Hinchie to the rescue though with a fine block at the expense of a corner. From the resulting set piece Lee Wilkie's header went narrowly past.

The County players progress is blocked
The second period began with a Queens change, Paul Burns replacing Scott Robertson. Queens were soon on the attack again too and three minutes in John O'Neill glanced a header wide off a Paton free kick. A few minutes later though Hugh Robertson smashed a 30 yard effort narrowly past via a deflection and McCall decided to make a second change. Andy Thomson replaced Graham Weir and seconds later Paton almost caught out Samson with a near post free kick. Thomson's first involvement saw him slip a perfect ball through to Sean O'Connor to advance on goal from a tight angle. Like Weir before him though he too delayed too long in going for goal and a defender slid in to block.

Queens defend deep
On 67 minutes Hinchcliffe was grateful to grab a Lee Wilkie header at the second attempt and Queens broke quickly with Willie Gibson sending in a delicious cross headed narrowly past by Andy Thomson. Three minutes later Queens made poor use of a corner and County broke quickly forcing an error from Stephen Swift. Eventually the referee adjudged that Paul Burns had committed a foul to stop the move and he was booked before Hugh Robertson hammered the free kick directly at Hinchcliffe from 20 yards. A couple of minutes later a telling ball in from the left saw Higgins stretch to prod the ball wide and McCall made his final change replacing O'Connor with Warren Moon. That meant John O'Neill switching to a forward role. Before we could get used to the situation though the balance changed when Martin Scott saw red for a poor lunge at Neil Scally.

County sent on Jason Crooks for Sean Higgins on 81 minutes and Amick Ciani for Michael Gardyne three minutes later. The best chance of an equaliser fell to John O'Neill running through with three minutes to go but again he never got a shot away and the chance was gone. County indeed held out more comfortably with ten men than they had with eleven and that is extremely disappointing.

Here are a few of the chances that we let slip by today - from David Gow on the terracing
Ewan Lithgow
Photographs - David Gow

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