Seven days on and a game played in very similar conditions to the Morton match ended with less goals and Queens on the wrong end of the result. Due to circumstances, this was my first visit to the Ballast Stadium and what has been built seems very good indeed. However, with two sides of the ground derelict it was also a pretty desolate place to try to play football through driving rain and in a howling gale for ninety minutes. From a personal point of view, because the away fans are accommodated behind a goal, it is difficult to get an accurate impression of the action at the other end of the park. Just to add to my problems my Dictaphone failed to work so it was back to paper and pen on a cold night!
I can only presume that Queens lost the toss because the teams switched round after the warm up and we had to play into the wind for the first half. The side showed two changes to the team which beat Clydebank on Saturday. With Steve Bowey out for two or three weeks, Graham Connell started in midfield and a Trialist came in on the right side in place of Paddy Atkinson who had also picked up a knock on Saturday.
Actually, Queens weathered the conditions pretty well to begin with. Whilst it was very difficult indeed for both teams to put together any passing moves, the defence just about coped with few early problems and the attack looked like it might be dangerous on the break. The first chance of any note in the game came after quarter of an hour when the Trialist hit a free kick in from the right which appeared to be misjudged by McFarlane in the Accies goal but Weatherson made no contact at the back post under some pressure with the goal gaping. However, as I was over 100 yards away it's difficult to be sure how close he was to the ball. In 33 minutes though Queens took the lead out of nowhere following a howler by the home 'keeper. A right sided corner from McAlpine was headed out of the box from the near post but, as everybody ran out from goal the ball was lofted back in. McFarlane was right under the ball but lost the flight and fumbled the catch. The alert Derek Lyle had chased in and was on hand to head beyond the 'keeper and into the empty net.
This was better than we could have hoped. Playing against the conditions we had snatched the lead on a rare foray forward. However, rather than consolidate, just like the Morton game last week, the lead was lost within a minute. Accies came straight up the field and earned a left sided corner which was knocked in high to the middle of the box. Jim Thomson jumped highest but misjudged the flight and succeeded only in heading the ball straight down for Stuart Callaghan standing in front of Colin Scott. It was a simple task for the midfielder to control the ball and place it into the corner of the net for the equaliser.
Eight minutes later we should have fallen behind after sloppy defending by Jim Thomson let Brian McPhee in on goal. The striker was forced wide but rounded Colin Scott and squared the ball to give McNiven an open goal from about six yards. However, the former Oldham forward somehow scooped the ball over the bar in a manner very similar to Morton's John Gibson last week. We didn't learn from the let off though and seconds later Accies did take the lead. It was David McNiven again, this time shooting from the corner of the penalty area. Incredibly, his strike seemed to deflect off both Thomson and Aitken before looping over the stranded Colin Scott and into the net. Just before half time Stuart Davidson was booked for a crude challenge just inside his own half.
At half time we still seemed to have a chance in the game. The conditions would be in our favour for the second half and we trailed by just the one goal. In fact the early signs were good. In 51 minutes, Lyle made a great run to the goal line and pulled the ball back for McFarlane to fumble yet again but it was scrambled away before any Queens player could finish. In the 55th minute, Gordon Connelly came on in place of the Trialist and, four minutes later, from his cross, Peter Weatherson headed on to give Joe McAlpine a clear sight of goal. However, his finish was weak and was blocked out for a corner which came to nothing. Unfortunately, that was just about the last chance we made.
In the 63rd minute, a low shot from the edge of the box by McNiven was touched round the post by Scott and five minutes later, after O'Neill had replaced Davidson, Scott made another fine save from the same player's drive. Barry Donald replaced Connell before the Accies wrapped the points up with quarter of an hour remaining. Andy Aitken slipped over on the halfway line and Hamilton quickly broke up the right with the ever dangerous Brian McPhee. After evading Donald's sliding challenge, he had all the time in the world to pick out any of three breaking Accies players with only Thomson (I think) back to defend. In the event the lucky recipient of the pass was Stuart Callaghan again and he finished comfortably to make the score 3-1.
There was little further action of note, with Accies using all three subs to run out a bit of time but in the end it was a comfortable win for the home team. There can be little doubt that the better team won on the night. Accies coped with the conditions far better than we did over the piece and yet, we started well enough and had we held the lead until half time I think we'd have won the game. Forced to come forward looking for an equaliser we were hit with a sucker punch which finished the game. The match was a bit of a lottery in the circumstances but, as the same was true of the Morton game, we probably can't complain too much. With Clydebank and Alloa both earning vital away wins tonight, we drop back to third and have it all to do again, especially with two successive derby games coming up next.
MATCH ACTION - From David Gow