Queen of the South: James Fowler upbeat about play-off chances

Derek Lyle (left) celebrates having opened the scoring for Queens against Rangers
Derek Lyle (left) celebrates having opened the scoring for Queens against Rangers last month

Manager of the month James Fowler believes his Queen of the South players have nothing to fear in their Premiership play-off against Rangers.

The Dumfries side have won two and drawn one of the four Championship matches between the sides this season.

"Rangers have been on a good run, but we're at home and we've got a decent record against them," said Fowler ahead of Saturday's quarter-final first leg.

"We'll take confidence from the results and the performances against them."

Queens lost 1-0 on the road on Saturday as Livingston ensured their Championship place next season and the Doonhamers finished fourth in the table.

That defeat followed a highly successful run in April when the team beat Hibernian, Rangers, Falkirk and Dumbarton and drew with Alloa.

In their two league matches this season at Palmerston, they have beaten Rangers 2-0 and 3-0.

Results between Queen of the South and Rangers this season
30 August Rangers 4-2 Queen of the South12 December Queen of the South 2-0 Rangers
10 March Rangers 1-1 Queen of the South9 April Queen of the South 3-0 Rangers

"We've had a great season," the 34-year-old told BBC Radio Scotland's Sunday Sportsound.

"We've had a great run to secure the top four because Falkirk were coming strong as well.

"We have done well against Rangers this year in one-off games in the league.

"Now we are going into a two-game situation. We're at home first so hopefully we'll take an advantage to Ibrox and put the pressure on Rangers.

"I wouldn't mind if we had a 2-0 or 3-0 going to Ibrox next week."

Rangers were stung 3-0 by Queens at Palmerston in April
Rangers were stung 3-0 by Queens at Palmerston in April

Fowler revealed the target for the club was a top-four Championship finish but he insists neither he nor the players are satisfied to rest at that. Rather, they want to progress to take on Hibernian in the play-off semi-final.

"We don't want to just go through the motions," said Fowler, who replaced Jim McIntyre as manager when he left for Ross County in September.

"We have shown that we can compete against Rangers and Hibs so if we can get through the Rangers game we will look forward to Hibs as well.

"We know it's going to be difficult with all the games in a short space of time and with the size of squad we have.

"But as Hamilton showed last year, anything can happen. Once you're in there and you've got the momentum, you can get at these big teams and the pressure shifts to them. We would love to progress."

James Fowler and Stuart McCall
James Fowler will pit his wits against Rangers boss Stuart McCall in the two-legged Premiership play-off quarter-final

Queens play on an artificial surface at Palmerston, a pitch that Fowler acknowledges is not to every team's liking.

"Sometimes, mentally, for other teams coming, players don't like the surface as much," he said.

"It's an excellent surface for playing football on but I think sometimes players don't like it in terms of their body.

"For one-off games it shouldn't be an issue for the teams coming. We enjoy the surface, that's our home advantage.

"If you go to Ibrox and there are 50,000 fans, that's an advantage for them.

"We're within the rules so if we can use it to our advantage we will take that."