Preview: St Mirren v Queen of the South

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St Mirren and Queen of the South face up to each other for the first time this season tomorrow afternoon in a Ladbrokes Championship match-up at The Paisley 2021 Stadium.
Leading the team from Dumfries will be Gavin Skelton who took over the managerial helm at Palmerston Park at the end of last season after the departure of James Fowler. Having struggled by their own standards last season, the Doonhamers under Skelton have found their swagger again this term having got the season off to a flying start.
The Dumfries side lost a lot of good talent from their squad over the summer but Skelton has recruited well as he looked to find more balance again in the side. A really good pick-up is former Hearts and Kilmarnock defender Jamie Hamill who will shore up a defence that shipped 56 league goals last season, their poorest tally since season 2011/12 when they were relegated. Man of many clubs, Stephen Dobbie made a return to Palmerston this summer and has got off to a great start by scoring 6 goals in just as many outings so far this season, adding to his previous total in Dumfries of 54 goals in 97 appearances.
Skelton also brought in former Carlisle player Steven Rigg and midfielder Grant Anderson who made the move to Queens from Raith Rovers after a four year stint with the Kirkcaldy side. The Queen of the South manager also snapped up 20-year-old Aussie Lyndon Dykes Dykes from Surfers Paradise Apollo Soccer Club of Queensland Australia. There are also a few more familiar faces still around such as club captain Chris Higgins and striker Derek Lyle who knows the way to the back of the net having already bagged 6 this season.
The Doonhamers have got this season off to a really good start with three wins out of four ties in their Betfred Cup group, their only loss coming to Premiership side Partick Thistle, but the three wins assured qualification to the round of 16. A more than creditable 1-1 draw away to Dundee United on the opening day of the league season was followed by an incredible 3-1 victory away to high-flying Hibernian in the Betfred Cup which earned them a tie away to Rangers in the quarter-finals which will be played the midweek after next.
Since then league wins against Ayr United (4-1), Falkirk (2-0) and Dunfermline (1-0) see Queens sit in 3rd spot two points behind table toppers Hibs and on level points with Raith Rovers. Last weekend they went on a goal-scoring spree as the booked their place in the last 16 of the IRN-BRU Cup with a thumping 7-1 win against Stenhousemuir.
St Mirren also had success in the IRN-BRU Cup last Saturday as they battled back from two goals down to win 4-3 after extra-time. After going down to an early two goal deficit against Albion Rovers, goals from Lewis Morgan, Stephen Mallan and John Sutton hauled Saints into the lead but a quick equaliser just ahead of half-time saw both sides battle out a dour second half. With the game forced into extra-time Saints got the last say as Lawrence Shankland was on hand to head home to put Saints into a last 16 tie with Hibernian.
Another positive from last week’s match at Coatbridge was the return from injury of midfielder Rocco Quinn and a St Mirren debut for Gary MacKenzie who had been battling injury in the early part of the season also.
St Mirren had the upper hand across the four meetings with Queen of the South last season. The teams met in September last year in Dumfries with Saints running our 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Sean Kelly and Steven Thompson. Saints and The Doonhamers didn’t go head to head again until February when Stephen Mallan’s goal was the difference between the sides. But the following week an Alex Harris goal saw Queens get revenge at Palmerston. Stephen Mallan gave Saints the lead on the half-hour mark from a penalty-kick in the last meeting between the sides on 12th March. Gary Oliver pulled Queens level again midway through the second half but within sixty seconds Saints were back in front when Callum Tapping put the ball through his own goal.
It may only be the fifth league game of the season but both teams will be looking for maximum points. Queens will be looking to try and put pressure on the two sides above them in the league table while Saints will be looking to build on last week’s come-back win and hope to put together a game-winning performance to get their league season up and going.