There was a surprise for the doonhamers support today as the familiar face of John Hillcoat took his place between the sticks for Queens. Following the injury to Colin Scott yesterday and with Jamie Campbell not yet fit, manager John Connolly acted swiftly last night to bring back our former stopper just for this match. The rest of the side was changed greatly from the eleven that took to the field yesterday with Ross Currie, Jon Crawford (this time in the middle of defence not goals), Eric Paton, Brian McColligan and Sean O'Connor all starting.
It was to be a very different match to that which had seen Queens reach the final in a comfortable manner as early on the Killie youngsters demonstrated that they were there to win and with a few first teamers in the side there was no shortage of skill on show in both teams. Queens began brightly with Peter Weatherson again showing the quality that would see him go on to win the player of the tournament award as he linked well with Bowey in midfield and turned inside his man before just having the ball taken off his toe as he teed up an effort. Two minutes later and it was Nellie again attempting to break through a tough Killie back line, the ball broke out to Sean O'Connor who took it to the byeline and crossed but no one was able to take advantage. The same player was through again a few minutes later and as he shaped to fire the ball home the traveling fans were confident of a score but the big man blasted over from a tight angle.
Kilmarnock though were causing problems in the heart of the Dumfries defence and had a goal disallowed for offside just on the quarter hour, the settled for a period until the thirtieth minute when Steve Bowey broke through the defence and sent what looked like a net bound curling effort that crashed back off the upright. The game was being played with conviction from both sides, so much so that the referee asked for one of the Killie forwards who had taken a tumble in the box to be replaced.
As the end of the half approached it was the turn of Queens to have a goal disallowed as Eric Paton stepped through the defence and round the 'keeper to net, he had stepped just a fraction too early and was given offside by the linesman. The last action of the half though was another 'goal' this time to Killie when the flag for offside had been up early.
HALF TIME 0-0
The second half saw a new midfield being shipped in as O'Neill and Bowey went off and McLaughlin and McAlpine went on, the two former Bankies, McColligan and Paton who had been playing out wide in the first half both became central midfielders with the two Mc's taking their places.
Queens enjoyed the better of this half and after just five minutes should really have been a goal up as first Weatherson saw a low drive to the near post blocked away and from the rebound O'Connor saw his similar effort blocked away, two superb saves by the young Killie 'keeper.
A piece of wing magic by Brian McLaughlin saw him cut in and send a ball across the face of the goal where both McAlpine and O'Connor were running in with a Killie defender sandwiched between them, neither could force the ball home and the ball escaped to safety. Queens came close again in the sixty seventh minute as an Eric Paton free kick from the edge of the box crashed back off the bar and to safety with the 'keeper well beaten.
The final substitution for Queens was made on seventy four minutes as JC experimented with a Lyle/O'Connor front line with Nellie coming off.
A minute later and Killie could have been in front if it wasn't for John Hillcoat standing up to the shot and plucking it out of the air, another two good saves from Hilly in the last ten minutes ensured that Queens would not taste defeat during open play.
Penalty kicks were to settle the match with each side having five apiece, Killie starting the sequence and going on to score with all four that they took, Andy Aitken was first up for Queens and scored with a well placed shot, similarly Jon Crawford had no problem in slotting the ball away and then last years penalty scoring hero Paddy Atkinson stepped up, this time though Paddy clipped the bar as his effort flew over and with Kille scoring with every kick it was a must for Brian McLaughlin to score, unfortunately he too missed the target and with that the cup was headed for Kilmarnock and not Dumfries.
First up for Queens - Andy Aitken slots it home
Hillcoat can only look back as the winning penalty is scored
It was a very competitive match with both sides playing with a great deal of commitment, the first half belonged to Killie but the second saw Queens come into their own and they could well have won the game in the ninety minutes.
Player of the Tournament