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MOTHERWELL 3 : 2 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 7th February 2004
Rating: 6.65
Rating: 5.81
Rating: 5.63
Rating: 7.41
Rating: 5.03
Rating: 7.39
Rating: 6.76
Rating: 7.42
Rating: 6.14
Rating: 8.44
Rating: 5.12
S1 - 59
Rating: 6.51
S2 - 61
Rating: 6.70
S3 - 69
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.
The Scottish Cup adventure is over for another year and the first visit to the 4th round in 14 years results in another glorious failure to advance just like the last time. What a game though! In blizzard conditions for much of the time, though oddly generally not when the match was actually in progress, the two sides served up a thriller and the proverbial "game of two halves". If only we hadn't started so slowly in a deja vu manner like the Hibernian game earlier this season then surely the very least we would be looking at would be a replay at Palmerston and a potential visit of the Sky cameras. We played Motherwell off the park in the final half hour but just couldn't quite force an equaliser that would have been richly deserved. And if anyone out there still thinks John Sutton is a better prospect than Sean O'Connor then they should have been watching this match. A word too for the simply magnificent Queens support at the game. I don't have a note of the official figures at time of writing but the top tier of the away stand apparently holds 2,000 and they were forced to open the bottom tier too and for a sizeable number of people at that. There must have been more than 2,500 Queens fans there today and their backing was magnificent, even at two and three down.

To the game then and John Connolly sprung a surprise before kick off, leaving out Alex Burke and opting to move Gary Wood back up front alongside O'Connor with Brian Reid back from injury to partner Aitken. Stephen Payne made his first start also on the right with Paul Burns switching wings to the left to accommodate him. Brian McColligan and Paul McMullan had to make do with seats on the bench alongside Burke, Jaconelli and Stuart Robertson. Before kick off there was a minute's silence perfectly observed in memory of former Scotland manager Ally McLeod who sadly passed away last week. "Super Ally" had been a former manager to both sides. There was a fair bit of snow around at this point but it pretty much stopped before play started.

When the game did eventually get underway, it was a whirlwind start from the home team and they were awarded a penalty after precisely 1 minute and 18 seconds! The initial danger seemed to have gone as Bowey broke up the opening attack but his pass played Eric Paton into trouble and, closed down by two opponents, he lost possession and Clarkson (I think!) was able to break into the penalty area. Andy Aitken came across to challenge but was adjudged to have fouled the youngster by Mike McCurry who had little hesitation in awarding the spot kick. Up stepped Derek Adams to send the ball into the bottom left corner beyond Dodds' dive and give his side the earliest of leads.
Dodds just about gets a finger to the ball
Six minutes later and it should have been two after an astonishing sequence of misses. A Motherwell attack down the left side saw a low cross fizzed into the six yard box where a striker first had an effort blocked by a combination of Dodds and Andy Aitken and then, on the rebound, hit from point blank range only for the keeper to somehow react and push the ball up onto the crossbar and back out. The second rebound was turned over the bar. After this Queens started to settle down a little and play a bit of the football we know they are capable of. The first Queens attack of any note arrived on 16 minutes when Paul Burns cut in from the left side and curled a right footed effort from 20 yards round Gordon Marshall but also beyond the far post by a couple of feet.
No way through as Dodds blocks ahot after shot
However, before Queens could take any heart from that they suddenly found themselves two down a minute later. This time the trouble came from a left sided corner kick. No-one picked up Alex Burns and "Toastie" was left with a free header from six yards to double the advantage. Six minutes later Gary Wood picked up his by now customary booking (he starts a two match League suspension from today) for a foul on halfway, though I thought his opponent made a meal of it somewhat. Just after the half hour mark Brian Reid deflected a shot wide and, from the resulting corner, David Bagan this time blocked another goalbound effort. The odd thing at this point was in the middle third of the park Motherwell were doing no more than Queens were and there seemed to be little between the sides, whereas for me Hibernian dominated us completely until late on in that game. However, Motherwell were far more dangerous around the opposition box than we were and that was the difference between the sides in the opening period. Indicative of this was the incident when Wood won possession and suddenly found himself and O'Connor in a two on two position with the Motherwell centre halves with Bowey running to join them quickly. However, O'Connor's pass pushed Wood too wide and then Wood rather than pick out Bowey on the penalty spot chose to shoot (or was it a cross?) from an acute angle and Marshall was easily able to deal with it.
Burns gets a free header and scores the second
To put the icing on the cake, a minute before the interval, the home side added a third goal. The ball broke for Clarkson to shoot from the edge of the box and his powerful effort was blocked by Dodds but didn't quite reach the bye-line and Alex Burns reacted sharpest to the loose ball to turn it back in from a very acute angle. Indeed I think it probably only went in off Dodds.

At half time it was hard to see any way back for Queens, though they hadn't actually been playing that badly. The best hope appeared to be an abandonment, as happened at the Clyde v Dunfermline match today. Certainly at half time that seemed a possibility as the blizzard conditions returned, completely obscuring some of the lines, particularly at the penalty area nearest to the massed ranks of Queens fans. There was a long interval for the teams and I can only assume that was to allow time to think about the options but the game duly did restart, albeit with the substitution of a yellow ball for the regular match ball, and lo and behold as soon as it did the snows disappeared again. It was like a tap being turned on and off!
The referee was happy that he could see the lines!
The second half was only 25 seconds old when David Bagan achieved our first shot on target of the game from 25 yards out, albeit it was an easy catch for Marshall. Five minutes later Paton's right sided cross was headed well wide by Bowey but the signs were already that Queens were determined to make a fight of the game. However, Motherwell were also determined to kill the game off well and truly and it took a fine block tackle by Aitken to deny Burns a clear hat-trick chance a few minutes later. Up the other end a fine piece of defending denied Wood the chance to latch onto a through ball in the area and Marshall was able to kick clear. On 57 minutes Keith Lasley's shot after the ball had broken to him off a Reid tackle in the middle flew just wide with some of the home fans thinking it was in the net and celebrating.

Just before the hour mark John Connolly made a couple of changes. First Paul McMullan came on for Joe McAlpine and then, moments later it was Jaconelli for Wood in a bid to liven things up. It certainly worked! For the next ten minutes Queens were completely dominant, pulled back two goals and ought to have had a third. First on 64 minutes, in a virtual carbon copy of the second Motherwell goal, Stephen Payne's left sided free kick was headed home by the unmarked Sean O'Connor. Motherwell tried to strike back immediately and a dangerous cross into our box was flicked on by Brian Reid and Dodds had to react well to tip the ball wide of goal. However, on 67 minutes that man O'Connor was at it again, this time beating Stephen Hammell and breaking into the box before shooting left footed low and just wide of the bottom left corner of the goal with Marshall helpless. He clearly didn't let the disappointment get to him though as within a minute he had made it 3-2. This time he outmuscled Corrigan to stride into the left side of the penalty area and struck powerfully under Marshall and into the bottom right side of the net. Game on! Connolly's reaction was to replace Payne with McColligan with Paul Burns switching wings again.
Sean nods in his first..........

....then smashes home his second
Again the home side attempted to hit back straight away and they thought they had made it 4-2 just a further minute later as Alex Burns slotted home but Mr McCurry had awarded a free kick to Queens for a foul on Bowey a moment or two earlier. Three minutes later Jaconelli hammered over the bar from ten yards or so from a left sided cross. The home side introduced recent signing Gary Bollan for Keith Lasley but it made little difference to the balance of play. McMullan's cross was headed on to the roof of the net by Bowey and then O'Connor attempted an audacious chip of Marshall from 18 yards but was just over the bar. In the 80th minute from another left sided cross O'Connor went down in a challenge and as the appeal for a penalty went up the loose ball broke to Paul Burns who rattled a shot towards the top right corner only to be thwarted by a flying save from the still agile Marshall. In 84 minutes Jaconelli was booked for dissent after complaining about a challenge on O'Connor for which we only got a throw even though he was clearly caught above the hip with studs! A minute later Motherwell gave up the ghost of pretending to go for a 4th when they withdrew Burns and put on Scott McDonald. However, Queens best chance had gone and, despite three minutes of added time we couldn't force any further efforts on goal. Needless to say the final whistle was greeted by the heavens opening again and a blizzard ensuring dangerous driving conditions on the way home and a lot of snow covered fans making their way out of the ground.
Jaconelli fires just over
So a defeat but at least pride restored with a magnificent second half display. Not quite of Manchester City proportions but a good comeback never the less. Even Terry Butcher admitted afterward that he was just praying for the whistle and Queens maybe deserved a replay. It wasn't to be though and Motherwell's reward is a home tie with Inverness for a semi final place. Oh, what could have been! Instead for us it's back to League duty and a long trip to Brechin, weather allowing, next Saturday. Gary Wood will be missing through suspension but there are hopes that Jim Thomson may be able to return.

Ewan Lithgow

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