Feb 16 2011 by Kieran Westbrook, Dumfries Standard Wednesday
Queens grab late point against Jags
MAGIC Allan Johnston grabbed a late equaliser as Queens mugged Partick Thistle on Saturday.
The Doonhamers looked dead and buried when Iain Flannigan fired the Jags into a 3-1 lead with minutes left on the clock.
But late goals from Willie McLaren and Johnston earned Queens an unlikely point.
Thistle looked the more dangerous side and tested Queens shot stopper David Hutton early, when a long ball found John Robertson inside the box.
But Hutton was off his line quickly and saved with his legs.
Johnston and McLaren looked the most likely to threaten Thistle's keeper Graham Shepherd, and the two linked up well on the half-hour mark.
McLaren sprayed a cracking cross-field ball to Johnston whose first touch took him into the box. But the ex-Scotland star hesitated when he should have shot, and the chance was snuffed out by Paddy Boyle.
Queens’ Stephen McKenna handed Thistle the lead minutes later when he misjudged a headed back-pass which fell straight to Martin Grehan who lobbed Hutton with his first touch, sending the ball home.
The fantastic finish from Grehan left McKenna holding his head in his hands.
Things went from bad to worse on the 40th minute when the Jags doubled their lead with a highly contentious decision from the linesman.
Grehan looked to be returning from offside when he flicked a crossed ball on to Kris Doolan who fired past Hutton with a crisp left foot strike.
Queens fans, players, and coaching staff cried out in unison against the decision, but whistler Crawford Allan backed his linesman and the goal stood.
McLaren gave the Doonhamers some hope going into the break 2-1 down by firing past Shepherd after getting on the end of a great Derek Holmes pass.
Grehan almost smashed any second half optimism when he connected with a Robertson cross, heading goal-ward from point-blank range. But the weak effort was parried to safety by Hutton.
Queens were straight back up the pitch after that scare, with Rocco Quinn sending Colin McMenamin down the left flank. The ex-Dundee dynamo crossed to McLaren at the back post whose shot was blocked and cleared by Boyle.
The heat was on for the next vital goal.
And, but for dogged Jags defending, it should have been Queens. In the best chance of the match, Shepherd parried a Holmes header from a Johnston cross. The ball fell to McLaren after sub David Weatherston stepped aside. But the winger’s drive was blocked on the line by Alan Archibald and cleared to safety.
With seven minutes left on the clock, and against the run of play, Thistle extended their lead with a well-placed strike from sub Flannigan.
Cue a wave of departing Queens fans who clearly felt the game was over, further reducing the already disappointing 1860 attendance.
It was a finish worthy of winning any match – but Kenny Brannigan's men had other ideas.
McLaren doubled his account for the afternoon with a fantastic left-foot volley into Shepherd's top right hand corner after latching onto a pass from Holmes.
And the burly forward had a hand in the equaliser too.
An unusually quiet Paul Burns crossed to Holmes whose shot was blocked by Shepherd but only fell to Johnstone who smashed the ball home from point-blank range to the delight of the Queens faithful and management.
A delighted Kenny Brannigan said: “It takes a bit of guts and character to come back from being 3-1 down and get a result. I thought at times there that we'd blown it. But the boys battled hard and got the point. I felt when we were 3-1 down that it would take something a bit special for us to get something out of the game. But that something has to come from within, because I've really not got an options on the bench to make a change right now. I felt Thistle probably played better than us today. But my hat goes off to the boys – they showed real fighting spirit.”
Queen of the South: Hutton, McKenna, Reid, McGuffie, Carmichael (Weatherston 64), Burns, Johnston, Quinn, McLaren, Holmes, McMenamin.
Subs Not Used: McKenzie, Smillie, Orsi, McShane.
Booked: Quinn, McKenna.
Goals: McLaren 43, 87, Johnston 90.
Partick: Shepherd, Robertson, Kinniburgh, Archibald, Boyle, Cairney (Paton 68), Rowson, Bryan Hodge, Erskine (Flannigan 32), Doolan (Donnelly 75), Grehan.
Subs not used: Hinchcliffe, Campbell.
Goals: Grehan 33, Doolan 40, Flannigan 83.
Referee: Crawford Allan