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Report: St Mirren 1-0 Queen of the South

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By Stuart Gillespie at the Paisley 2021 Stadium

Scientists claim it takes around 66 days to form a habit. A second Saints home league win in a week suggests they may need to take another look at their figures.

Saints perhaps rode their luck at times against Queen of the South but there was no doubting the quality of the game’s only goal – and it came from the son of a man The Doonhamers have fond memories of. When Calum Gallagher was fouled around 20 yards from goal it gave Saints a free-kick in what has become Stephen Mallan territory and the young midfielder duly obliged, curling a superb strike into the net.

Mallan was twice close to adding to the advantage after the break but Jamie Langfield was the busier of the two goalies, keeping out a couple of Jake Pickard efforts before Ryan Conroy clipped the bar with a free-kick. Thankfully for the Buddies that was as close as the visitors were to come and they are now just four points way from the play-offs – although their nearest rivals have all played a game less.

Alex Cooper and Gary Irvine were both brought into the Saints side after the previous week’s win over Alloa Athletic, Cameron Howieson and Sean Kelly the players dropping to the bench. Queens were also fresh from a home win over Alloa after last week’s encounter with Raith Rovers was postponed, gaffer James Fowler deciding to stick with his winning selection.

Saints had a lucky escape from an early Queens corner, Jake Pickard’s hook being kept out by a combination of Jamie Langfield and the woodwork before the unmarked Derek Lyle missed the target with the rebound. The Doonhamers then had a let off of their own from a Saints corner, Andy Webster unable to force the ball home from close range after being teed up by David Clarkson.

Harris was causing the Buddies defence a few problems, flighting in a fine ball that Kyle Hutton was just an inch or two away from getting his head on. Iain Russell was able to connect with another delivery, this time from Lewis Kidd on the right, but his snap volley flew wide. Saints were dealt a blow after little more than 20 minutes when Webster was taken off as a precaution and Sean Kelly took his place but it didn’t disrupt things – as proven by what happened next. Calum Gallagher was fouled around 20 yards from goal and Stephen Mallan produced another trademark free-kick, bending the ball past goalie Robbie Thomson to give Saints the lead.

The advantage could have been extended soon after when the Buddies broke forward and Lawrence Shankland fired over from close range, however play had already stopped for a foul on Thomson. The keeper was in the wars again moments later when he dived at the feet of Clarkson and seemed to have taken a knock to the face. Perhaps that affected him as when he was next called upon he spilled the ball before diving on it again after it had trundled outside the box. He escaped with a booking and there was no further punishment after Mallan’s fine delivery flashed across goal just out of reach of a couple of Saints players.

The goal had put the Buddies in the driving seat as they began to look more of a threat in the final third, although Langfield was called into action to make a save from Pickard’s trundler. Russell was booked after catching Mallan late – ref Crawford Allan initially playing advantage – but he almost drew his side level five minutes from half-time, Langfield spilling his fierce half-volley before it was cleared by the defence.

Half-Time: St Mirren 1-0 Queen of the South

Keith Watson was booked just after half-time for a late challenge on Russell before Mallan almost doubled the lead. Shankland and Clarkson exchanged passes and the on-loan Aberdeen man fed the ball out wide to Alex Cooper. He opted to pull it back to Mallan and the midfielder tried to curl an effort across Thomson into the far corner, the ball drifting agonisingly past the post. Queens very nearly drew level with their next attack, Mark Millar picking out Pickard with a corner but his header was too central and was blocked by Langfield. Seconds later the same pair were battling it out again, this time Pickard’s header from a Harris cross being turned over by the Saints keeper for a corner that Lyle headed wide when it looked easier to score.

Those escapes seemed to bring Saints back to life, ref Crawford Allan again deciding to play advantage when Andy Dowie was blatantly fouling Shankland and the striker did well to get a shot away that flew narrowly over. Thomson seemed to be an unsettling presence at the back, a mix-up with his defence presenting another chance that was eventually cleared off the line, although the whistle had already gone for a foul. After Dowie shot a few yards wide, Queens made their first change with Ryan Conroy replacing the booked Russell, Kidd picking up a yellow card soon after for a challenge on Cooper as Harris was replaced by Gary Oliver. The changes almost paid off when Oliver was deemed to have been fouled at the edge of the box, giving Queens a free-kick in a great position that Conroy was unlucky to see clip the top of the bar as it sped behind.

Before play resumed Shankland – who had been forced to wear a head bandage for much of the game following an early challenge – was replaced by club captain Steven Thompson. The striker was soon involved in an attack that saw the ball sit up nicely for Mallan at the edge of the box, his shot being tipped over by Thomson. Queens’ final throw of the dice saw Kidd replaced by Aidan Smith and Saints replaced Cooper with Cameron Howieson at the same time. It was another sub who almost drew the visitors level, Oliver testing Langfield with a drive from distance that the keeper parried away.

Saints seemed to be quite comfortable trying to run the clock down in the final few minutes, Thompson, Gallagher and Howieson in particular impressing on that front. In stoppage time the Queens management team were incensed that a blatant shove on one of their players went unpunished, to the extent one of the coaches volleyed the advertising board in anger. There was to be no frustration for Saints though as they comfortably saw out what little time remained to record back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Full-Time: St Mirren 1-0 Queen of the South

St Mirren: Langfield, Webster (Kelly 22), Mallan, Baird, Watson, Gallagher, Clarkson, Shankland (Thompson 76), Quinn, Irvine, Cooper (Howieson 85).
Subs Not Used: Gow, Agnew, McAllister, Wilks (GK).

Queen of the South: Thomson, Kidd (Smith 84), Dowie, Brownlie, Harris (Oliver 71), Millar, Lyle, Russell (Conroy 65), Hutton, Pickard, Marshall.
Subs Not Used: Higgins, Jacobs, Murdoch, Atkinson (GK).

Referee: Crawford Allan.
Assistant Referee: Gordon Crawford.
Assistant Referee: Colin McDonald.

Attendance: 2,706 (TBC Queen of the South fans)

Star Saint: Stephen Mallan.

Match report pictures by Allan Picken – © Allan Picken Photography.

Match Gallery Pictures © John Millar.

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