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Queen of the South 3 Ross County 5 (Full Match Report)
SPL bound Ross County ended their 2011/12 league campaign by coming away from Dumfries with a deserved 5-3 victory against Queen of The South. In doing so the D1 champions stretched their unbeaten league run to an incredible 34 consecutive games. Today’s win also means that Ross County finish the season a mammoth 24 points ahead of second placed Dundee. The extent of that points gap sets a new champions v runners up record in respect of all senior level football leagues that have ever been contested in Scotland. A remarkable achievement for the ex-Highland league side whose steady and progressive rise through the SFL ranks - in a relatively short time span - has been one of the major successes of the crisis ridden modern Scottish game.

County substitute Kurtis Byrne ensured that all three points would be heading back up the A9 by scoring from the half-way line three minutes into added time. That goal came seconds after County keeper Michael Fraser had pulled off a stunning save from home keeper Lee Robinson’s close-range shot to deny the home side a share of the spoils. With nothing at stake for the already relegated home side the decision by the home stopper to race forward for a last gasp Queen’s corner-kick ultimately backfired.

Today’s game was the forty-sixth time that both teams have played each other in a competitive fixture. The 5-3 win maintains County’s upper hand in that series having enjoyed victory on twenty two occasions - against fifteen wins for the Dumfries side - which leaves nine draws. Given the new records that today’s victory set for Ross County, today’s result was arguably of greater historical significance in the club’s progression than the second game within that series. On that occasion - twenty one years ago - the then Highland League posted six goals past their senior hosts in that famous Scottish Cup second round replay.

With mammoth title celebrations having already taken place at recent County home and away games - and with Dumfries being a ten hour return road trip from Ross-shire - the away support was considerably reduced in number to about 200 or so. Fancy dress was the theme of the day. A tanked up flock of sheep, rubber stags’ heads, a second Richard Brittain and an ‘Elvis’ (no not the unspoken one) congaed their way into the County support just before kick-off.

With Queen of the South having already been relegated the away support formed part of a very poor official attendance of only 1,323.

Derek Adams made one change to the County starting eleven that had hammered Hamilton 5-1 seven days previously in Dingwall. Grant Munro returned from injury to replace Johnny Flynn in central defence. Although the displaced Irish international U-21 captain travelled with the team- for the last time - he was dropped out of the squad of sixteen. Hamilton game subs. Joe Malin, Mark Corcoran, Steven Craig, Rocco Quinn and Kurtis Byrne all retained their places on the County bench. This was also Dundee United bound Michael Gardyne’s last game in a County shirt.

During the first half Ross County - playing in their change strip - were shooting towards the sparsely populated home terracing end. The game was played in dry overcast conditions.

The home side showed their early intent by attacking the County goal straight from kick off.

They came very close to opening the scoring in the third minute. John Potter got his head to a long diagonal home free kick taken from the right. Potter’s deft flick fell to Danny Carmichael - just outside the left edge of the penalty box. He got to the bye- line and crossed the ball into the danger area. Sam Parkin connected with the delivery and hit a vicious shot at goal from 10 yards out. Michael Fraser pulled off a great save by parrying the ball out. Fortunately for County home player Gavin Reilly hooked the deflected ball narrowly over the bar from 16 yards out.

Queens opened the scoring on 10 minutes with a quality goal. The ball was passed to Danny CARMICHAEL close to the left touchline, mid-way inside the attacking half. He cut inside at pace to the centre of the pitch, looked up, and hit a low powerful shot into the corner of the net past the diving Fraser. A goal out of nothing that was executed with clinical precision.

Ross County showed the character that has defined much of their season by equalising within one minute. Stuart KETTLEWELL did well to race into an unmarked position by heading the ball into the bottom left corner of the net - from six yards out - after connecting with a Gardyne cross from the left bye line.

The equaliser seemed to inject some urgency into the home side as they attacked with renewed vigour. They forced two corners. The dangerous looking Sam Parkin managed to get a free header at the near post area - following the first Carmichael corner taken from the left side. His glancing header on the turn narrowly cleared the County bar. Two minutes later PARKIN put the home side 2-1 ahead when he created space for himself at the near post area in a carbon copy move of the initial corner, which also involved the same two players. This time his angled header on the turn - at the near post area - was expertly glanced into the other side of the net giving Michael Fraser no chance.

The shell-shocked County defence who have been rock solid throughout the season found themselves in the unusual position of having conceded two goals after only fifteen minutes. From a County point of view the second goal was a poor goal to lose defensively - both from allowing a free header at the near post area and from the lack of adequate cover at the back post area. Grant Munro was finding the similarly sized Sam Parkin - who has represented Scotland at ‘B’ level - a bit of a handful.

Immediately following the goal County raised their game by pressing forward and playing with a new found urgency. Following some neat interplay down the left side between Ian Vigurs and Richard Brittain, the County captain played a ball into the middle of the penalty box from the right. Grant Munro was clearly seen to be held back and as a result was prevented from making contact with the delivery. No penalty given. From the play that followed a low, left-footed, Michael Gardyne shot from 10 yards out went a couple of feet wide of the near post. To be fair to the County striker he had very little time to direct his shot.

Queen’s player Stephen Black was only yellow carded on 18 minutes for cynically felling Colin McMenamin. The league’s top scorer had latched onto a long Gary Miller pass down the right - on the counter attack - in a dangerous position 22 yards from goal. From our view it looked like Black was the last man. Referee David Somers obviously thought otherwise. The resultant Ian Vigurs free-kick was curled over the defensive ball and grazed the top of the bar before going out for a goal kick. A real let off for the home side.

Midway through the first half the diminutive home player Danny Carmichael ran down the left with the ball at his feet from the half-way line. He showed great skill by showing Richard Brittain a clean pair of heels by dummying the County captain. He then used his pace to good effect to ghost past Scott Boyd. Fortunately for County his low, dangerous delivery from the left bye-line found no home takers and the ball was cleared from danger.

Two minutes later the play flowed to the other end. Following some neat County build up play Iain Vigurs - with his back to the goal at the right edge of the penalty box - teed the ball up for Paul Lawson. Lawson’s low diagonal shot cleared the opposite post by some ten feet.

Almost immediately the game flowed to the other end in what was proving to be a very open game of football. The home side were awarded a very questionable free-kick right in front of the County support at the left touchline. Daniel Orsi managed to get his head to the long Carmichael delivery. With Michael Fraser already committed, the looping header from 10 yards out -at the back post area - dipped dangerously. It landed on the roof of the net with Scott Boyd and Grant Munro carefully tracking back to follow the flight of the ball to the goal line.

One minute later it was County’s turn to attack. County full-back Gary Miller hit a dangerous cross towards the back post area from 25 yards out. Iain Vigurs made a clean connection with the delivery on the full volley. His diagonal shot from 15 yards out landed in the side netting.

Home playmaker Carmichael came close to scoring again just before the half-hour mark. Following a quick home counter attack his shot from 30 yards out - from the left - narrowly cleared the corner of the opposite bar/post junction.

In recognition of the problems that the same player was consistently causing down the left-side County manager Derek Adams decided to make a tactical change to his existing line-up. Scott Boyd was switched from centre-back to right-back. As a result Stuart Kettlewell was pushed further back - from his normal protective central midfield ‘enforcer’ role - to partner Grant Munro in defence / play as a sweeper. These changes meant that Gary Miller was given a fluid, attack minded right-midfield berth. However he also dropped further back when required.

These internal changes had the desired effect. The nature of Scott Boyd’s tighter ‘man to man’ marking effectively quashed any further Danny Carmichael threat for the remainder of the half. It also meant that the home side only had one further effort on goal. That chance came seven minutes before the break when Paul Lawson lost possession on the half-way line to the imposing Sam Parkin. The Queen’s target man powered forward with the ball at his feet. He ran unchallenged before unleashing a powerful shot from just outside the left side of the penalty box. Michael Fraser did really well to save and hold the effort in front of his goal line.

Within a minute of that chance Michael GARDYNE scored a second equaliser when he latched onto a through ball down the middle to hit a sublime chip over the head of Lee Robinson - from the edge of the penalty box - into the corner of the net. A goal that would have graced any level of football.

With five minutes of the first-half left Richard Brittain came close to putting County 3-2 ahead. His rising rocket shot from 22 yards out - on the right - very narrowly cleared the opposite post/bar junction with home keeper Robinson remaining rooted.

Just before the interval the home side’s Stephen McKenna and Michael Gardyne were both yellow carded.

So at half-time a draw was probably about right in an end-to-end game of even chances that was proving to be good value for money……………

No changes were made by either side at the start of the second-half. However Derek Adams continued with the same tactical formation changes that he had made after half an hour. This clearly worked during the second period as Queens ultimately proving to be much less of an attacking threat.

County came agonisingly close to going 3-2 ahead three minutes after the restart. A quick County free-kick taken from 20 yards out caught the home defence off guard. A direct, pacy delivery was played 10 yards ahead to Michael Gardyne. The County striker did well to quickly get the ball under control and in the same movement he turned and hit a low vicious shot across goal, towards the opposite corner. The effort took a wicked last second deflection off a home defending leg and went out for a County corner kick on the right.

Five minutes later it was the home side that scored a third goal somewhat against the general run of play during the early stages of the second-half. Ironically referee David Somers indirectly contributed to the play that led to the goal by getting in the way of a home defensive clearance. The ball rebounded off the man in charge and fell kindly for Richard Brittain. The County captain’s snapshot from 25 yards out was well saved and held by Lee Robinson. The ball was quickly played by Ryan McGuffie upfield in the direction of Gavin Reilly who had raced forward in anticipation. With the County defence caught out REILLY latched onto the long pass just inside the right edge of the box. He managed to get past Grant Munro and rifled a low shot between the legs of Michael Fraser and into the net from 14 yards out.

Within one minute County equalised for the third time when - following some incisive build up play - a low Scott Morrison cross from the left was bundled over the line by Colin MCMENAMIN from five yards out. Despite his affection for his former club the County striker must have been chuffed to have scored against the only league team he had failed to find the net against this season - up until that point.

Just before the hour mark Queen of the South squandered a great opportunity to go 4-3 in front. The chance came as a result of a rare Stuart Kettlewell error when - with County pouring forward - he lost the ball in possession on the half-way line. With no outfield player behind Kettlewell at that time, a lung busting run down the left attacking flank by a home player ended with a very poor delivery. Two Queens players had sprinted forward in support down the middle in anticipation. A great chance lost.

Ross County upped the tempo for the remaining 25 minutes or so as they went all out in their quest to win the game. During this time the home side were quite content to sit back and play a counter attacking game.

County demonstrated their quality on 65 minutes with a stunning move. Scott Morrison showed some good skill down the left before hitting a pacy pass to Colin McMenamin, at the central edge of the box. In the blink of an eye the County striker chested the ball down for Iain Vigurs. The County talisman hit a ferocious, first time, left-footed, low shot very narrowly wide of the left hand post.

Nine minutes later County managed to carve an opening against an increasingly packed home defensive box. Paul Lawson’s shot from 25 yards out was wildly blazed over the bar - from a position where he has had previous of scoring a number of spectacular goals.

Two minutes after that Colin McMenamin was presented with a great chance to find that elusive winning goal. Following some great incisive build up play from the champions Scott Boyd directed a close-range cross from inside the right side of the penalty box towards Colin McMenamin. Although the striker’s stretched header from six yards out was on target, it was well saved and held by keeper Robinson on his goal line.

Shortly afterwards - and with 13 minutes of regulation time left - County got the fourth goal that their second half domination had merited. Michael GARDYNE signed off his County career in style with a ferocious left-footed shot - hit from 25 yards out - after being set up by Gary Miller. The ball ended up high in the left side of the net. It was quite simply an unstoppable strike.

Within a minute of the goal Iain Vigurs left the field to a standing ovation when he was replaced Rocco Quinn. Shortly afterwards the home side made a double substitution. Ryan Smylie and Alan Reid replaced Kevin Holt and Daniel Orsi. Michael Gardyne took his final bow with seven minutes left when he was substituted for Kurtis Byrne.

Queen of the South had only their second attempt on goal of the second period on 84 minutes. Gavin Reilly headed wide of the near post - under pressure from Scott Boyd - by connecting with a Smylie cross from the right.

With five minutes left County goal scoring hero Colin McMenamin was replaced by Mark Corcoran. At the same time Queens third sub. Ian McShane replaced Scott McLaughlin.

The home side were presented with a good opportunity to level the game on 87 minutes. They were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Although Ryan Smylie’s low delivery from 22 yards out managed to beat the County defensive wall the effort bobbled several feet wide of the left-hand post.

The game took a dramatic twist two minutes into injury time when Queen of the South won a corner. Home keeper Lee Robinson sprinted upfield into the packed penalty box. The corner kick - taken from the right - fell kindly at the feet of Robinson just in front of goal. His shot from three yards out was somehow parried away by County keeper Fraser on his goal-line. The resulting clearance was played to Kurtis BYRNE who had raced forward in anticipation. From the left side of the half-way line the County replacement striker looked up and lobbed the ball high towards the unguarded goals. Despite Lee Robinson frantically sprinting back towards his goal he could not get to the floated ball as it bounced inside the penalty box and into the empty net.

A fantastic end to an incredible Ross County season.

Well-done lads……..
Another very detailed and accurate report of a great day on which to finish an unbelievable season. Many thanks Fyrish for excellent reports throughout the season, they've been greatly appreciated not only by those who couldn't get to the games, but also by those who were there. Many many thanks. Smile Smile Smile
Excellent work Fyrish ... and everybody.

Del seems to make good tactical decisions to respond to situations in the game. Everything has really clicked this season.
Malky Mackay - he's our new manager
Great stuff, thanks for all your reports this season.

(formerly named Geordieland Staggie).

Registered member since March 2003.
Just watched the high-lights now. Few comments. The two saves, one from Parkin in 3rd min and one from their gk last min where simply sensational saves. If they were made by Joe Hart we would never hear the end of it. World class.

Speaking of World class - both Midges goals were were superb. What a player - we will miss him.

Sam Parkin has had the career or a journeyman. He has not been able to settle and I expected big things from him 5 or 6 years ago. He proved that day he is still class and he would be a terrific signing. I would not be surprised to see him in SPL next season.
If Neale Cooper was in charge, Sam Parkin would be the next signing. He had a habit of signing guys on the basis of a couple of strong appearances against us.
Sounds like a rather topsy-turvy game. Anyone know where I can see highlights that aren't the SFL TV page as they are two weeks behind schedule.
knowing me DY NO MITE
knowing you OTB AHA!!
Cheers for the link!

Cracking finishes by Midge and Curtain Burns. The boy Carmichael looks a decent wee player as well.
(05-10-2012, 11:03 PM)Comrie Wrote: Cheers for the link!

Cracking finishes by Midge and Curtain Burns. The boy Carmichael looks a decent wee player as well.

Carmichael has just signed a new 1 year extension as well, which im surprised about the lad shouldn't be in division 2 Exclamation

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