Queens finally lost their unbeaten record in the cups this season at the hands of Premier League Dundee but not without a few scares for the home side along the way. On a wet night in the city of the 3 "J's" I had special reason to be thankful to Chic from Red Rose Taxis, Alex from the TownHouse and CIS Insurance for a hospitality invite which was thoroughly enjoyed! Back to the game though, and an early shock for Queens as Colin Scott reported an injured knee in the warm up and, with Andy Goram injured already, that meant a baptism of fire for 17 year old Stuart Robertson. The youngster sat on the bench for 18 games during last season but had never played a minute of first team football before being pitched in at the deep end tonight. Jon Crawford was cast into the role as emergency cover 'keeper on the bench. Other changes from Saturday saw Derek Anderson return at left back in place of Crawford with Robbie Henderson moving to a centre back role. In midfield, McColligan replaced O'Neill and up front McLaughlin was in for Lyle. Dundee treated the match with full respect, making just one change from the team which lost narrowly to Celtic on Sunday.
The match got off to a fairly slow start with few chances of any note in the early stages though Paul Shields had an effort from distance deflected wide of goal and Robbie Henderson nearly latched onto the corner kick. After quarter of an hour, a long ball from the back by Weatherson set McLaughlin running down the right and his low cross to the back post just eluded Joe McAlpine running in. However, just two minutes later the home side grabbed the lead. A long ball from midfield turned the Queens defence and got them running back towards their own goal. Never the less, Joe McAlpine was first to the ball but seemed to slip trying to guide it back towards Robertson, allowing Garry Brady in behind him. Brady was able to square the ball across the face of goal to the suspiciously offside looking Juan Sara who had no trouble knocking the ball into the empty net from six yards.
Bouncing straight back, Queens called Speroni into action when Peter Weatherson seized on a loose ball and struck a shot from 25 yards which the keeper gathered only at the second attempt. However, disaster was just around the corner and, with 23 minutes gone, Dundee doubled their advantage. Another long ball was aimed forward at Fabian Caballero but carried through to Stuart Robertson. He seemed to have the ball in both hands but somehow it squirmed loose and through his legs leaving the forward with the easiest of tasks to walk the ball into the empty net. The next action of note though saw Queens pull a goal back absolutely out of nothing. Robbie Neilson picked up on a loose Dundee lay off and ran up the right wing before squaring a pass inside to Peter Weatherson. "Pedro" advanced to about 20 yards out before blasting his fourth goal of the season past Speroni.
In the 36th minute, the "Dark Blues" thought they had restored the two goal margin when another right sided Brady cross was headed home by Sara despite a great effort from Robertson to keep it out but this time the offside flag did go up and the "goal" was chalked off. The third goal was delayed only a further three minutes though and again it had more than a hint of offside about it. Caballero ran along the line of the back four but, by the time the pass was finally played to him, he appeared to be at least a yard beyond the back line. The flag stayed down though and he was able to reach the bye-line before pulling a low cross back which was missed by Lovell but despatched at the back post by Juan Sara again. With three minutes of the half remaining, Brian McColligan picked up the game's first booking from referee John Rowbotham for a hard midfield challenge on Nemsadze. A minute later though, some risky passing along their own back line by the Dundee defence allowed Paul Shields a shooting chance from eight yards out but Speroni was quickly off his line to smother at the forward's feet. There was still time right on the whistle for Gavin Rae to bring a fine diving save out of Robertson from 25 yards and for the young 'keeper to palm another dangerous cross away from the head of Steve Lovell.
The second half started at blistering pace and only one minute had passed when Hernandez struck a great shot just over Robertson's crossbar from the edge of the area. A minute later Queens came agonisingly close to another goal. Shields took possession well from a throw and set up McColligan on the edge of the area and he struck an excellent shot towards the top left corner. Somehow though Speroni got a hand to the ball and tipped it onto the crossbar. McAlpine was first to the rebound and, rather than strike for goal himself, stood a cross up to the back post where Shields arrived to leather an effort off the post this time and it was scrambled clear. The assistant referee though had his flag up for offside before Shields shot and it wouldn't have counted had it gone in. In 48 minutes Dundee worked another flowing move which ended with a low cross to Gavin Rae rushing in at the back post but Robertson did very well to get across his goal and parry the drive away for a corner. In the 50th minute, Bowey ran clear onto a through ball but seemed to be tripped from behind by a defender just inside the box. Had a penalty been given it would also have had to be a red card but Mr Rowbotham waved play on. With 53 minutes played Robbie Neilson picked up our second booking for a cynical pull back of Caballero after the forward had beaten him out wide. From the resulting free kick, the ball was headed home by Tom Hutchinson despite another brave effort by Robertson but again Queens were saved by an offside flag.
On the hour mark Dundee withdrew Nemsadze and put Gavin Beith on in his place and four minutes later they really should have tied the game up. Lovell broke up the left side and put in a fine cross for Sara standing 8 yards out. He tricked the nearest defender effortlessly but then somehow contrived to hammer his shot over the bar when it seemed easier to score. Within seconds though he came even closer to his "hat-trick" picking up a clearance form the Dundee back line and striking it on the half volley from all of thirty yards out. Robertson though was equal to him and leapt superbly to tip the shot onto the crossbar and the ball bounced clear. Queens weren't done yet though and went straight up the other end, nearly scoring themselves. Bowey broke into the box but his shot was blocked by a despairing slide tackle. Shields picked up the loose ball and chipped it to the far post where Joe McAlpine struck it goalwards only to see Speroni make a tremendous block. The loose ball fell this time to McLaughlin whose effort was charged down but, by now, the offside flag had gone up yet again. Immediately, Jim Thomson continued his rehabilitation, replacing Robbie Henderson. Three minutes later, a fine pass by McLaughlin sent Shields through behind the Dundee back line but Hutchinson stretched a leg out to make a great tackle on the forward before he could get a shot away.
With twenty minutes remaining, Milne replaced Caballero for Dundee and, three minutes later, Lyle replaced McLaughlin for Queens. Other than a good run from his own half by Weatherson which was ended by a crude challenge from Beith, for which the Dundee sub was duly booked, little else of note happened in the next ten minutes or so. With just seven minutes remaining Peter Weatherson got a bad knock on his left leg again and was promptly replaced by Eric Paton before being helped off to warm applause from the Queens crowd. Two minutes later Gavin Rae was left unmarked at the edge of the penalty area from a corner kick and hit a volley which was deflected narrowly wide of the right post. There was no further incident though and Dundee eased into the Third Round draw.
Queens were beaten but far from disgraced tonight. Dundee played some nice football at times and seemed a bit quicker but there was more than a hint of offside about two of their goals and the second came from an individual error by the young goalkeeper who was otherwise faultless on a difficult night for him. With far from a first choice eleven available to John Connolly for the tie we can hold our heads high and get on with League business at least until the Challenge Cup Final.