Ladbrokes Championship: Queen of the South 0 Dunfermline 0: 24/02/18

Dunfermline travelled to a sunny Palmerston Park to meet the team immediately behind them in the league. They were seeking revenge for the hefty 5-2 defeat by the Dumfries club at East End Park in December.

Manager Allan Johnston named the same starting eleven as faced Livingston two weeks ago and Queens gaffer Gary Naysmith made two changes from the side held to a 1-1 draw by Morton. One former player replaced another, Shaun Rooney coming in for Scott Mercer and Connor Murray was preferred to young Ross Ferguson.

Both teams sat on 34 points going into this match, four behind Morton in fourth. The Fifers were ahead on goal difference but for both clubs a win was essential to keep their hopes alive of finishing in a play off place.

Bright sunshine welcomed the sides out Queen of the South in their all blue kit, the Pars in their red and black away strips. The teams changed ends before Andy Ryan kicked the match off with the visitors attacking the goal at the empty terracing end.

It was a tentative start from both sides but the first corner of the match in four minutes went the hosts way and that was easily cut out by Nicky Clark.

Murray took on the right side of the Pars defence getting to the byeline but Lee Robinson raced out to block the cross.

Declan McManus` eighth minute shot from 30 yards was touched over on to the roof of the net by keeper Jack Leighfield but the corner did not create a danger to the Queens defence. Back at the other end Robinson held a left footed shot from Dom Thomas and then on the break McManus crossed for James Craigen but he skied his volley.

In 18 minutes Ryan Williamson was penalised for hand ball out on the left and Murray launched another ball into the far side of the Pars box. Rooney headed that back across goal and Tom Beadling blocked the attempt from Lyndon Dykes.

Another Queens free kick just inside the Dunfermline half after Jean-Jves M`Voto flattened Dykes, was pumped into the visitors box only to be successfully defended. Ryan came close on 25 minutes with a glancing header on the end of a useful McManus cross in from the left. Next minute Craigen delivered a free kick from the left that M`Voto at the far post got just too far in front of to finish.

Scott Mercer came on in place of Shaun Rooney who hobbled off in 28th minute. The Dumfries crowd grew increasingly agitated by misplaced passes from Queens. They were not impressed either when Craigen was allowed to clip the ball into the area in front of their goal forcing a corner to be conceded. Unfortunately that was overhit and nothing came from it.

A Ryan cross ten minutes from the break was headed behind by the diving John Rankin giving Dunfermline another corner on the left. This time Craigen sent the delivery to the far post where Clark arrived to meet the cross but he turned the ball the wrong side of the right upright.

It had not been a half filled with goalmouth action and it was tribute to the Fifers that danger man Stephen Dobbie did not get a shot in until 39th minute. Even then it lacked power behind it and was off target.

The home side pushed up to try and get something before half time but their final balls from Mercer and then Rankin disappointed. Dunfermline closed the half with two Craigen corners and although M`Voto got his head on the second his header sailed over the crossbar.

Half time: Queen of the South 0 Dunfermline 0

Supporters of both teams hoped something to excite as Kyle Jacobs got the second half underway. Calum Fordyce headed on the ball and then crossed into the centre of the Dunfermline box within a minute of the restart but that was defended. Robinson made a good save after Dobbie had picked out Dykes on the top of the box and from the resultant corner Dobbie was able to pop a shot from the edge of the box but fortunately wide of the right goalpost.

The Doonhammers turned up the pressure on their opponents with centre back Darren Brownlie adding height at setpieces and the ball being passed around deep into the Dunfermline half. Thomas had a crack from 25 yards but his sights were wide. Dobbie provided the magic touch to get away from Talbot in his own half and the break of the ball beat him as he raced forward, Murray gathered but again disappointed as he sent his cross behind.

Such was Queens desperation to get on the ball Jacobs and Rankin clashed as they went for the ball and so in 58 minutes play halted as the Queens captain received treatment fand then left the pitch to have his cut forehead bandaged up.

It was 64 minutes before a right footed Talbot cross created the first Dunfermline chance of the half but Ryan could not rise high enough to head it home. A corner from the left then caused the QOS defence some anxiety but McManus` shot went over the bar.

Kallum Higginbotham came on for Andy Ryan as the midway point of the second half passed. It was a cut back from Craigen to Clark that made Leighfield pull off his first save of the half in 74th minute. The striker`s well connected shot despatched from 25 yards out.

The Craigen corner from the left was dropped by Leighfield but the luckless Higginbotham fired wide right from close range. Further chances were to follow on from that. McManus ran on to the ball as it approached the Queens box only to be hauled back by Jacobs. A yellow card was shown to the Queens man and Dec for complaining and from the free kick just 20 yards out Craigen penetrated the defensive wall but Leighfield kept the effort out with his outstretched right foot.

Joe Cardle was an 86th minute sub for James Craigen. He immediately got in a couple of crosses and then another in 88th minute but there was no one to convert them. The game was to offer no goals and one point a piece probably pleased neither set of supporters.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH: Jack Leighfield: Shaun Rooney (Scott Mercer 28), Callum Fordyce, Darren Brownlie, Jordan Marshall: John Rankin (Myles Beerman 76), Dom Thomas, Kyle Jacobs, Lyndon Dykes: Stephen Dobbie, Connor Murray (Nikolay Todorov 67).
SUBS NOT USED: Ross Ferguson, Kyle Cameron, Derek Lyle, Sam Henderson (GK).
YELLOW CARD: Jacobs (79)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft, Jean Yves M`Voto, Jason Talbot: James Vincent, Tom Beadling, James Craigen (Joe Cardle 86): Nicky Clark (c): Andy Ryan (Kallum Higginbotham 67), Declan McManus.
SUBS NOT USED: Daniel Armstrong, Callum Morris, Nat Wedderburn, Lewis Martin, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: McManus (79), Talbot (89)

REFEREE: Don Robertson

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Brechin City, Tuesday 27th February, kick off 7.45pm at Glebe Park.

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