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PENRITH 1 : 4 QUEEN OF THE SOUTH
16th July 2003
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This was no more than a decent work-out for a sparse but strong Queens squad tonight. Penrith are several levels down in English football and, much better side though they were from the one we comfortably beat before John Connolly's first season in charge, they were no match for our top side. It was a strong Queens side which took the field with Hodge and Allan replacing Thomson and McAlpine at the back from Saturday's team. New signing David Bagan started in midfield in place of Mark Canning whilst Willie Gibson switched over to the right side to accommodate Alex Burke on the left as Derek Lyle was given a run up front. However, with McAlpine and Talbot carrying knocks and not risked, Canning not with the squad tonight and "Pathfinder" Jaconelli getting lost somewhere on route and not making the game, the bench was a bit thin. Only five subs were listed and two of those were Warren Pearson and Kenny Crichton! Making up the remainder of the line up were trialists Ryan Davidson and Craig Coates together with captain Jim Thomson.
It took just five minutes for Queens to take command of the game with Sandy Hodge hitting a long ball forward from the left side which Derek Lyle outpaced the home defence to get on the end of and bury the shot behind James Holland in the home goal. As Queens continued to dominate both Paton and McColligan went close with shots from distance in the opening quarter hour. Lyle also missed a decent chance before McColligan and O'Connor combined in a fine move to allow the former a clear sight of goal from around 8 yards. The chance was blocked initially but Gibson followed up only to fail to make a decent connection with the ball and allow Holland the chance to smother.
In 23 minutes Lyle again hit the side netting with a shot on the turn but less than a minute later the same player did double the lead. Alex Burke's deep cross from the left was met by Lyle with a header from ten yards. It lacked power really but was well placed and Holland fumbled the ball in trying to keep it out allowing the alert forward to seize upon the rebound and slot it home from an acute angle. A few minutes later he might have clinched his hat-trick but turned Gibson's cross just over the top on the turn from 18 yards.
It was a surprise then when Penrith pulled a goal back completely against the run of play. A cross from the right side was completely misjudged by Derek Allan leaving Barry Irving with the simplest of tasks to knock the ball past Dodds from inside the six yard box.
Queens were soon back in the ascendancy though and on the half hour Bagan seized upon another goalkeeping fumble and tried to chip home from the edge of the box only to see his effort headed off the line. Thirty seconds later Burke's snap shot from midfield left Holland grasping at thin air as it rattled against the post with the rebound just eluding Lyle. Burke would have another effort on goal from just inside the box saved before the half time break arrived.
Connolly rang the changes at half time, withdrawing Aitken, O'Connor and Lyle to give Thomson, Davidson and Coates a run out. Two minutes into the second period Penrith might have equalised when Johnny Edwards lashed the ball wildly over the bar when presented with a good chance. However, Queens soon re-asserted their dominance and Eric Paton it was who added to scoreline with 51 minutes played. He took possession inside the home side's half and strode forward before shooting into the roof of the net from all of 25 yards out.
Within a minute, three should have become four when Burke's ball forward put Coates through on goal but his shot was wild and off target. The fourth goal was delayed only a few minutes though. 57 minutes had passed when Burke and McColligan combined to set Sandy Hodge clear into the penalty area on the left side. Big Sandy drew the 'keeper before squaring for Craig Coates to finish at the second attempt after his first effort was blocked on the line.
This was the cue for wide-scale changes and the home side immediately made their first three changes. Immediately after Bagan chipped over the crossbar again they made another one too. After 65 minutes some great football involving Burke, Paton and Gibson led to the latter putting in an excellent cross which Coates turned over the top after Davidson had dummied at the near post. That was the cue for Penrith to make another three changes, disrupting the flow once again.
With 20 minutes to go Queens put Aitken and Lyle back on in place of Bagan and Gibson! Within a minute or two came an amusing incident when the home 'keeper played the ball away from his goal and then turned to walk back to goal without realising the ball had been rolled back towards him by his defender. Alerted by the shouts from the crowd he wheeled round just in time to pick the ball up under challenge from Burke. That, of course, meant an indirect free kick for Queens for handling the pass back but Burke struck over the bar after Lyle played the ball to him.
Burke strikes over from a tight angle, the Penrith No. 14 looks to have moved quickly to cover!
There was little further action of any consequence though and despite some shouts from the travelling support we were denied a look at the footballing talents of Mr Kenny Crichton. All in all a pretty comfortable win but Saturday will provide more of a challenge I think.