It's typical Saints - win a trophy then give it up at the first opportunity. That's what happened in 1987 and that's what happened tonight. We can have few complaints. We were awful in the first half, improved a bit in the second, got ahead in extra-time after missing a penalty but when Queens got it back to 1-1 only one team looked like scoring and it sure wasn't us. An absolute disaster and Queens fully merited their victory.
It means it's still just one win since we lifted the trophy in March - and that came in a meaningless end of season affair at Kilmarnock. It is nowhere near good enough. We've lost three of our four games this season, one to a team in the league below us. The pressure is now really on manager Danny Lennon and you have to wonder if a defeat to Partick Thistle on Saturday will spell the end of his reign.
For some reason we started with Paul McGowan on the bench, with Darren McGregor the other player dropped from the weekend. David van Zanten and John McGinn came in, with Jake Caprice having to settle for a place among the subs. Queen of the South weren't short of options in attack with Dan Carmichael keen to impress, Derek Lyle on fire and Paul Burns always capable of scoring from midfield.
Lyle wasn't too far away with an ambitious long range effort early doors before van Zanten was cautioned for a foul on Carmichael. The winger was in the mood and almost opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour when Stephen McKenna sprayed the ball out to him and he cut inside before curling a shot just off target. Burns then had to be stretchered off with what looked like a torn muscle, the midfielder's place being taken by Ryan McGuffie. It didn't upset Queens' rhythm though, some poor defending letting Michael Paton in only for his shot to be kept out by a terrific David Cornell save. The goalie was in action again a few minutes later, although this time Paton's shot posed no problems.
We were creating nothing - aside from a half-hearted penalty appeal - and Queens really fancied their chances, Mark Durnan shooting over from close range after we failed to deal with a corner. Kevin Holt got his name into the book for holding back Gary Teale before another decent save from Cornell kept out Paton once more. We'd done nothing all half but in the last minute Gary Harkins, took the ball in his own half and ran. And ran. And ran, beating two or three players before rattling the post with a rasper of a shot. The run deserved a goal, but we most certainly did not.
We went on the attack straight away after the break and McGinn's left footed pile driver was well kept out by Antell before Steven Thompson failed to find the target when the corner came in. For the first time we started to look like a team from a higher league and tested Antell again when Thompson got onto the end of Teale's cross, but again the keeper was able to keep it out Next it was Cornell's turn to excel, although he and the defence were far too slow to react to Chris Mitchell's run, allowing him to pull the ball back for Lyle before his shot was saved by the goalie. After a brief delay when the ball burst Harkins got himself booked for a poor tackle on Derek Young. The Queens midfielder was replaced soon after with Gavin Reilly.
After the brief spell at the start of the half we'd fizzled out somewhat, Harkins unwillingness to pass becoming a tad frustrating as another decent run saw him fail to trouble Antell. As Cornell held Paton's low long range shot we finally made a change, McGowan replacing Conor Newton. Harkins was desperately unlucky not to give us the lead with 10 minutes left when he met Teale's cross but his shot went wide before Carmichael, who'd been largely disappointing after starting well, was replaced by Iain Russell. Harkins attempt at a back heel went wide as he tried - and failed - to spare us an extra half hour.
To say it started in dramatic style would be an understatement and for once it wasn't us that was messing about at the back. Confusion between Antell and Paton saw the latter try to walk the ball out of danger with Thompson close by. It didn't work, Thompson nicking the ball before Paton fouled him. The penalty was given immediately but the usually reliable McGowan saw his spot-kick kept out by Antell. It was a golden opportunity gone to go in front and you feared we'd blown our big chance. However, little more than a minute later we were in front as Teale charged through the middle and played the ball out to Harkins, his cross being headed home by Thompson.
Game over? No chance as Queens came roaring back. McAusland was booked for barging Russell before the striker shot straight at Cornell. The goal duly arrived when we failed to clear our lines properly and McKenna, who'd hurt us in last month's friendly, rattled in a shot from the edge of the box that flew past Cornell before he'd even seen it. As Caprice replaced Teale, who looked like he had plenty left in the tank, Russell shot straight at Cornell once more as we reached half-time.
As you wondered why we'd played so long without using all our subs McGinn had a shot from long range that was never going in. Russell got booked for stopping Harkins before the hammer blow, Lyle flicking on Antell's goal kick and Paton took it on his chest before cracking a shot past Cornell. It almost went past him in slow motion, but past him and in it went to send us spiralling out of the cup.
Suddenly that glorious day in March seems a long, long time ago.
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