Stranraer 0, Queen of the South 5
Shaun Niven at Stair Park
It was derby day disappointment for Stranraer on Saturday as Queens demolished the Blues with a ruthless display.
It was one of the most one-sided of these encounters for many years. The visitors made their way back to Dumfries with three points that take them closer to a league title they will surely clinch sooner rather than later.
There was little doubt even before the game of how difficult the task was for Stranraer but when reduced to 10 men with just over 20 minutes on the clock, the contest would have been stopped had it been a boxing match.
That said, the opening 20 minutes were reasonably tight with the Blues matching Queens. It was Queens looking dangerous first when Chris Mitchell swung a cross over from the right that may have reached Nicky Clark at the far post had Lloyd Kinnaird not been in position to head clear. Dan Carmichael jinked his way through the Blues defence and instigated a move that would force a fine double save from David Mitchell as first Clark and then Derek Lyle had efforts blocked by the Blues keeper.
A defensive mix-up a few minutes later allowed space for Queens to take the lead when Paul Burns took advantage and slotted the ball past Mitchell to open the scoring.
Stranraer responded well with a couple of great chances missing against good opposition proved costly. Craig Malcolm was played through by Chris Aitken and as he raced past two defenders with just Lee Robinson to beat he sliced his effort wide. Sean Winter followed with a fine solo effort from 20 yards but Robinson dived full length to turn the ball away.
On 21 minutes the visitors forced their way through again and with Clark attempting to round Mitchell, the Blues keeper brought him crashing to ground. Referee George Salmond, completing his personal set of all the senior grounds with his first visit to Stranraer, awarded a penalty for and produced the inevitable red card. Kinnaird was the unfortunate outfield player sacrificed to allow Russell Cadwell to be brought on and his first task was to pick the ball out of the net as Ryan McGuffie despatched the spot kick.
Six minutes from the break Queens scored again with a fine move. Carmichael was the architect with a mazy run down the right which saw him beat Frank McKeown’s attempts to halt his progress and he reached the goal line and cut the ball back for Derek Lyle, who curled a shot across the face of goal and into the far top corner.
Both teams made a change at the interval, with Michael Moore and Kevin Smith being added to change their respective sides attacking options. Unsurprisingly, though, the pattern of the game remained unaltered as Queens continued to dominate proceedings.
The first attack of the second half saw the Blues force a corner but when McGuffie cleared under pressure from Moore a quick counter-attack gave Clark the chance to attack Staunton but the last defender coped well and made a confident clearance.
Just before the hour mark, almost inevitably. Queens’ top scorer Nicky Clark got his name on the sheet for the 24th time this season. He did so in some style, picking the ball up outside the penalty area and firing an unstoppable 20-yard shot into the top corner.
Carmichael made another winding run before passing to Smith who forced a save from Cadwell and the keeper made another comfortable save moments later as Stephen McKenna tried from long range. The visitors made it five with 20 minutes to go, another fine finish from Derek Lyle who picked his spot from just outside the box and curled the ball round Dunlop and away from Cadwell.
Stranraer kept going, though, and a free kick from McKeown was headed wide by Moore before the Blues created a superb chance that should have earned them a consolation. Gallagher played a pass down the right and Malcolm turned a defender to get free before looking up and finding Moore just inside him. The Blues hitman elected to square the ball to Jamie Campbell but, with the goal at his mercy, he wasn’t able to direct the ball on target.
Allan Johnston was delighted with the performance of his side, having expected a difficult game. Queens kept the tempo going throughout the match and played some great stuff and a scored some good goals in a highly satisfactory day’s work.
Stephen Aitken was philosophical, reflecting on the sending off which renders the task almost impossible against a team that are strolling to the league title. He felt that in the opening exchanges Stranraer had done well but it was too much for them given the circumstances. He was pleased with the effort shown and the players had given everything but looked forward to getting the chance to go again on Tuesday night against Arbroath.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Lloyd Kinnaird (Russell Cadwell 22), Mark Staunton, Frank McKeown, Mick Dunlop, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher, Darren Gribben (Michael Moore 46), Craig Malcolm, Ryan Borris (Jamie Campbell 58).
Subs not used: Robert Love, Armand Oné
Sent Off: Mitchell
Queen of the South: Lee Robinson, Chris Mitchell, Kevin Holt (Steven Black 66), Mark Durnan, Ryan McGuffie, Derek Young (Kevin Smith 46), Daniel Carmichael, Stephen McKenna, Derek Lyle (Gavin Reilly 80), Nicky Clark, Paul Burns. Subs not used: Allan Johnston, Jim Atkinson.
Booked: Burns, Holt
Goals: Burns 17, McGuffie 24 Pen, Lyle 39,70, Clark 59
Referee: G Salmond