John Connolly sent a strong looking side out today against the Chester le Street based side, playing a back three with Grey and McKeown operating as wing-backs. This was a match that Queens dominated from start to finish and, but for some poor finishing, should have won by much more than the final four goal margin.
The first chance came after just seven minutes when Peter Weatherson put John O'Neill through with a "slide rule" pass but O'Neill's finish was poor and the home side's keeper, French, saved with his legs. In the 14th minute, Warren Hawke just failed to make connection with a long ball forward from Jim Thomson when any contact would have left the keeper stranded. Three minutes later, an Alan Grey cross from the right found it's way via Weatherson and McKeown to O'Neill right in front of goal but this time he scooped his effort over.
In the 33rd minute, the impressive looking Alan Grey, who had suffered a couple of heavy challenges, was withdrawn and replaced by Paddy Atkinson. Two minutes later Weatherson came closest so far to opening the scoring when he chased a long through ball and lifted it over French from an acute angle only to see it land on the top of the bar and bounce over the top. Four minutes later he was at it again, rounding the keeper but hitting his shot wide of the right post. A further minute later and Jim Thomson saw a header from O'Neill's right sided corner cleared off the line.
The opener had to come soon but when it did it was very fortunate. In the 42nd minute, Peter Weatherson escaped again down the left side and tried to play in Stuart Connolly coming in from the right. Chester defender, Wake, managed to intercept the pass but succeeded only in toeing the ball into his own net off the right goalpost!
Queens made a half time change, bringing on Jamie Campbell in place of Colin Scott, who hadn't had a save to make. The half was only three minutes old when Queens doubled their advantage. Paddy Atkinson broke down the right side and crossed low and perfectly for Peter Weatherson to bury his first goal of the pre-season past the helpless goalkeeper. Five minutes later, Derek Allan headed a free kick narrowly over.
In the 63rd minute, two goals became three in an almost identical manner. Atkinson again broke clear down the right side and put in a higher cross this time to the near post. French, O'Neill and a defender all went for the ball but none of them got it. Instead, it broke for Stuart Connolly, six yards out, to bury emphatically into the net. Before the match could restart, Connolly and Des McKeown, who had picked up a shoulder injury, were replaced by Steven Pickering and Mark Paterson. Within the next ten minutes, Queens used their remaining two substitutions by bringing Aitken on in an unfamiliar midfield role in place of McGhie and Sunderland on up front in place of Weatherson.
It was the last of the substitutes who made the fourth and final goal when a defensive error let him clear on the left. Sunderland's cross by-passed defenders and goalkeeper and was turned into the open goal at the back post by Warren Hawke. That was about it, although Jon Sunderland managed to miss several opportunities to add to the scoreline as the home side quite obviously tired.
So, a comfortable win for Queens which really could have been by at least double the score. I can't recall either Scott or Campbell being forced to make a save. The last word should perhaps go to the referee. Today's match was refereed impeccably by Alan Wilkie, the former FA Premiership referee, now retired and acting as a refereeing observer, who lives locally. Following on from the previous couple of friendlies where the referee's have come in for some criticism, Mr Wilkie's handling of the match was pretty much faultless and in good spirit. He even had time to engage in some banter with the visiting fans! An example of how it should be done.
Thanks to Ewan Lithgow for today's report.