Posted by: palmerstonblue | April 9, 2013



Queens added the Ramsdens Challenge Cup to their 2nd Division title after claiming a penalty shoot-out victory against 1st Division leaders Partick Thistle in a dramatic conclusion to the game at Livingston’s Braidwood Stadium yesterday. In an event filled Final that produced, 2 goals, a red-card, extra-time and then a penalty shoot -out, it was Queens who eventually came out on top.

Backed by a travelling support in excess of 3,500, who at times, made more noise than their Thistle counterparts, Queens survived a few early scares before gradually working their way into the game, and then for periods of the encounter, took the game to their higher league opponents. In a fairly even first half in which clear cut scoring chances were at a premium, Derek Lyle went close for Queens on two occasions, before leading scorer Nicky Clark spurned a glorious chance to put Queens in front, but from Mark Durnan’s flick the ball got stuck between his feet and he could only guide the ball past the post with the goal at his mercy. Lee Robinson did well to turn away an effort from Thistle’s best player , Stuart Bannigan, but for all of their possession, Thistle struggled to breakdown a well organised Queens defence in which both Durnan and Chris Higgins coped extremely well with the Thistle attacks.

The 2nd period began with Queens looking slightly sharper as an attacking force, and only a fine diving save by Thistle ‘keeper Scott Fox prevented Clark from scoring Queens’ 100th goal of the campaign. Queens almost opened the scoring with 20 minutes to go, Durnan’s header from a Chris Mitchell free-kick flashed just inches wide of the far post with ‘keeper Fox rooted to the spot. The 1st Division leaders then had an excellent chance to win the game late on. Substitute Kris Doolan found himself clear in front of goal with only Robinson to beat, and although his shot was on target, it lacked power and that was enough to allow the Queens No1 to finger tip the ball wide and send the game into extra-time.

Those opening 90 minutes were pretty tame in comparison to what was to unfold over the 40 minutes or so, as a rather tepid Final, exploded into a drama filled climax. Both teams had early chances to go ahead, as Doolan shot wide when well placed, and then Danny Carmichael skipped past 2 defenders before hitting a tame effort straight at the ‘keeper. Carmichael seemed to be inspired by that chance, and it was his brilliant run that set up the goal that everyone in blue and white were searching for. Cutting in from the left, and seeing the ‘keeper off his line, Carmichael tried a delicate chip from the edge of the area and although his attempt beat Fox, the ball smashed against the bar, but fortunately for Queens, Nicky Clark reacted quickly and turned the ball into the empty net. Although suffering from cramp, the leading scorer was able to find enough strength to run towards the ecstatic Queens support before celebrating with his team-mates. That was to be Clark’s final involvement in the game as he was substituted straight away. It was Clark who scored the opening goal of this memorable season back in July, and it was therefore quite fitting that he was on hand to net the club’s 100th competitive goal.

At long last a goal, and Queens had something to defend, but by the end of the first period of extra time, it was clear that Queens were going to be under intense pressure as tiredness began to creep into their play. After hanging on for almost the whole of the 2nd period of extra time, thanks to some backs to the wall defending , very often by all 10 outfield players,it seemed as though Queens had run out of luck when, right on the whistle, Thistle were awarded a rather dubious penalty. Marc Fitzpatrick did impede Elliot, but the foul looked to be just outside the penalty area, however referee pointed to the spot and it seemed that the 1st Division leaders had found a way back into the game. Regular penalty taker-and Dumfries born, Aaron Muirhead stepped forward to take the kick, but his well placed effort was superbly saved by Lee Robinson much to the delight of the Queens players and fans alike. Unfortunately, the game was then marred by a rather ugly incident that certainly does not belong anywhere near a football match. Young Muirhead, obviously distraught at missing the chance to put his side level from the penalty, allowed his emotions to get the better of him, and although being subjected to some ‘gamesmanship’ by a few Queens players-most notably, Chris Higgins, the Thistle defender head butted the Queens captain leaving him prostrate on the ground clutching a broken nose. In the melee that followed several players were fortunate not to be cautioned as the pushing and shoving threatened to get out of control, but thankfully there were enough players from both sides sensible enough to bring the incident under control. The result was that both, McKenna, and Elliot were shown yellow cards, Higgins escaped with just a warning, and Muirhead, having seen the red mist descend, being quite rightly dismissed for his actions. With time almost up, Thistle produced one last attack, and with virtually the last kick of the game Doolan pounced at the far post to turn home a shot that sent the ‘Jags’ into the penalty shoot-out.

The shoot-out took place at the end of the ground where the Queens fans were gathered, and their team got off to the best possible start after Derek Young expertly slotted home his penalty, and then Lee Robinson-mind games and all- blocked O’Donnell’s effort. Danny Carmichael was next for Queens, but his kick lacked pace and Fox guessed correctly to save easily, and Thistle drew level when Erskine beat Robinson comfortably. The next 4 attempts were all scored confidently, as Fitzpatrick, and Robinson himself netted for Queens, whilst Welsh and Sinclair did likewise for Thistle. Gavin Reilly put Queens in front, and then Ross Forbes made it 4-4. Chris Mitchell and Kris Doolan produced confident strikes to take the shoot-out into sudden death. First up was Queens skipper Higgins-now recovered enough to take a penalty- and his left foot effort flew in to give Queens an early advantage. The pressure was now on, and it was Englishman against Englishman as Conrad Balatoni stepped up to face Robinson. Balatoni’s drive was good and hard, but Robinson guessed correctly once again and pulled off a stunning stop to win the cup, and the double for Queens. Cue an astonishing reaction from both players, management, and fans alike as the realisation of the victory began to sink in. Queen of the South, Second Division Champions and Ramsdens Cup Winners 2012-13, absolutely sensational.

More excellent coverage from the unbeatable Mr.Goo


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