Queens continued their build up to the new season with a hard fought win over an awkward Newcastle Benfield side at Sam Smiths Park. Gordon Chisholm selected a strong side including a debut for Brian Gilmour on the left side of midfield whilst Robert Harris had to be content with a seat on the bench. Even that was more than Scally and O'Connor got though as they only watched the action. As well as the Paddy Atkinson connection Benfield featured one time Queens signing Craig Coates on the bench and David Colvin (a trialist for Queens in 2002) on the left.
The match got off to a flying start as the home side took the lead in the first minute. It all came from a dangerous cross into the box which wasn't properly dealt with. David Colvin fired in a shot from the edge of the box that Jamie MacDonald did well to reach and parry out to the side. However, the sharp Kevin Leighton was first to the loose ball and turned it back across goal for Anthony Shandran to turn into the net.
Queens took a while to find their feet, first going close after 13 minutes when Gilmour fed a ball behind the defence for Dobbie to run onto and his lifted shot was just reached by Grainger in the home goal. A minute later Tosh went even closer with a 20 yard effort following a free kick for handball. Benfield weren't resting on their laurels though and in 20 minutes captain Alu Bangura powered in a header from a corner that Jamie MacDonald tipped over. Next up an error from Aitken let Brian Dodsworth through on goal but MacDonald again produced a fine save low to his right.
Just before the interval Steve Tosh and Mark Atkinson went for a 50/50 ball and Tosh came off worse. There was no foul in the challenge but unfortunately the former Falkirk and Aberdeen man suffered a cut foot in the tackle and couldn't continue. As he left early for stitches, Robert Harris made his debut in his place, which meant Gilmour switching wings and Robertson briefly moving into the middle of the park.
At the interval the home side made a raft of changes. It looked like at least five of them but with players swapping shirts it was hard to tell as no-one announced them to the crowd! For Queens part, Grindley and O'Neill came on for MacDonald and Robertson.
Queens made a much better start to the second period. Inside the first minute Dobbie and McQuilken worked an opening for O'Neill whose shot was clearly blocked in the box by a diving defender with his arms but referee Keith Wilkinson was having none of it. It didn't matter much because Queens were level on 49 minutes and from one of the least likely sources. A free kick on the left was floated in by Gilmour, one of the Benfield defenders got there first to clear the ball but succeeded only in hammering it against Andy Aitken and the ball cannoned in via the post.
Three minutes later Queens grabbed the lead but they could so easily have gone behind first. Bangura burst through into our box and touched the ball beyond Grindley's dive at his feet but too far beyond him to collect it himself and Queens broke up the other end quickly. Harris it was who played a fine ball up the left side into Dobbie who beat one defender and drew another over before pulling it back to David Bingham who turned the ball home via a deflection from the home keeper.
On the hour mark Burns replaced Gilmour who had an impressive debut. Dobbie was still in the mood for goals and fired wide in 69 minutes before capitalising on good work by Burns on the right to ghost past more challenges in the box and fire a shot in that stung Grainger's palms as he parried clear. In the final minute Queens were awarded a fairly soft penalty as O'Neill stumbled in the box under pressure from a defender. This was the first time since Stephen Dobbie signed for the club that both he and O'Neill had been on the park when a penalty was awarded. Which of our two penalty kings would take it? The answer was Dobbie, although as he prepared to take the kick O'Neill had a laugh by running up as if to take it. Dobbie made no mistake with the spot kick though, hammering it behind the helpless Grainger to give the score a flattering look although there's no doubt the better side won the game.
A decent exercise then and hopefully Tosh's injury won't prove too serious. The lads should have a good night out in Newcastle now but we'll need to play better than this to get anything out of the Gretna and Carlisle friendlies to come.