There were a number of surprises awaiting the Palmerston faithful as they arrived to see the 'local' derby match versus Ayr United. Alan Gray missed out completely, however it was later revealed that the right back had suffered a reaction to the ankle knock that he picked up in Tuesday evenings win over Dumbarton and was not fit for selection. The defence was no surprise really all of the A's, in Atkinson, Allan, Aitken and Anderson in a four at the back formation. The midfield was unusual as McLaughlin started on the right despite being primarily a left-sided player and centre of the park dynamo Steve Bowey was consigned to the left wing, former Clydebank pair McColligan and Paton were therefore given the task of running the game from the centre midfield slots. Up front on-loan Celt Paul Shields was given the nod before Peter Weatherson so it was Shields to partner Derek Lyle.
Queens almost conceded a goal straight away as Paddy Atkinson, despite calls from Derek Allan, decided to chest down a defensive ball, the utility man then slipped and allowed Grady in, the Ayr forward hit the bye-line and crossed, fortunately though there were no takers.
Queens, however were soon back in contention and there was little to chose between the sides as the battle for supremacy was concentrated in the centre of the park. The biggest problem for Queens seemed to be providing service to the front pair, both wings provided little with McLaughlin having to cut-in every time he was in possession and Bowey looking out of sorts as a right winger.
The first real chance for Ayr came as late at the fortieth minute as a shot from the edge of the Queens box provided little difficulty for Andy Goram, the 'keeper just having to stretch a little and collect the effort that was straight above him.
Paton fires in an effort in the first half
Queens best effort of the half came three minutes from the break as Eric Paton played a superb ball over the Ayr defence that the lively Paul Shields latched on to, the front man then made some space and fired in his shot that was superbly saved by Nelson in the Ayr goals as he managed to get his legs in the way of the ball. A sucker punch was waiting though and Ayr delivered it in the third minute of added time in the first half as a corner from Queens left somehow found its way through the packed defence via Derek Allan and ended up in the back of the net.
HALF TIME 1 - 0
The second half saw no changes to the Queens line-up and Ayr started the half the stronger, after only ten minutes of the half the lead was increased to two as Andy Goram sent a clearance straight to an Ayr player and then from the re-invigorated attack James Grady was given acres of room by the goalie to pick his spot and make the score 2-0 to the Honest men.
Finally changes were made and Joe McAlpine entered the fray to play as a left winger down the left at the expense of McColligan, Bowey relieved of duty wide left and returned to a more effective central role. Ten minute slater and Peter Weatherson was brought into action and it was Brian McLaughlin who made way for the front man, Queens now playing with three up front being supplied by a three man midfield of Paton, Bowey and McAlpine.
Within minutes the changes almost paid off as Peter Weatherson broke through the Ayr defence, his first touch though put the ball too far in front of him and the 'keeper managed to block his first effort and then Nellie managed to fluff his second effort although it was only a half-chance.
Twenty-five minutes into the second half and Queens put together their best move of the match as a loose ball from a corner was won back by Joe McAlpine, he fed the ball across to Eric Paton who flicked it with the inside of his foot into th e path of Paddy Atkinson who sprinted to the bye-line before sending a cross into the box, Paul Shields connected well but too well and his effort crashed into the side netting. The substitutions had had the desired effect and Queens were now a side with some width and some drive.
A final change was made with the introduction of John O'Neill for Eric Paton, the arrival of Jonjo being warmly welcomed around the ground.
Queens were pressing forward with some purpose now and it was Joe McAlpine who received a quickly taken throw in and headed for the bye-line, his deep cross found Derek Lyle at the far side of the area, the front man collected the cross and squared himself up for a crack at goal, his effort looked goal bound but somehow Nelson managed to palm it over for a corner.
Queens finally got the goal that they had been promising as a good ball from John O'Neill in the centre of the park found Peter Weatherson, Nellie pushed it through the defence and into the path of Bowser, the blonde haired Geordie made no mistake with a well taken goal that gave Nelson no chance.
With only four minutes to go it was a tall order to score an equaliser although Paul Shields came closest as he made himself an opening and homed in on goal, his effort almost beating Nelson at his near post. However the score ended 2-1 to Ayr United. All in all a disappointing result, the side only really coming to life after the introduction of the substitutes. Still no games will be easy in this league and we will have to learn to take the chances that we make if we are to make good progress this season.
Almost over the line from Shields effort