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QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 2 : 2 DARLINGTON
23rd July 2003
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Tonight saw the fourth and penultimate pre-season friendly being played out at Palmerston, an entertaining game resulted in a 2-2 draw against Nationwide League Third Division side Darlington.
The Queens line-up was identical to that which had taken the field on Saturday past at Morecambe, the only alteration in the entire line-up being the omission of Paul Talbot from the substitutes bench because of a slight injury sustained in that match at the seaside.
The first ten minutes of the match were evenly contested with both side making half-chances but not anything clear-cut, David Bagan though could have done better when faced with the goals at his mercy and 'keeper Price stranded, however the midfielder could only steer his ball wide of the goals. Queens upped the tempo at this point and in thirteen minutes could have taken the lead when some excellent work by Sean O'Connor down the right resulted in him muscling his way past his marker and squaring the ball across the goal where Derek Lyle stabbed it goalward, Price was alert however and managed to cover the distance and push the ball away.
A goal was only a further two minutes away as Bagan played the ball to O'Connor on the left hand side of the box, Sean knocked the ball around the defender and collected it the other side before drawing the 'keeper and firing home a superbly created and finished effort.
Queens were looking very positive and playing some very good football, Willie Gibson has matured enormously over the summer and from the outside of his right foot he managed to turn a defensive situation into and excellent chance as he released Derek Lyle down the right with a tremendous through ball, Lyle though couldn't get enough power on the shot that finished the move and it eventually deflected away to safety.
Dodds collects comfortably
On twenty minutes Sean O'Connor was again tormenting the defence as he used his strength to win back a ball that had looked lost, he managed to pull back a cross that the 'keeper could not hold and dropped in his six yard box, the Darlington defenders needed two chances to clear the danger as Lyle moved in.
Disaster struck soon after though as a corner from the left was allowed through the defence to Darlington's Liddle who headed the ball strongly downward giving Dodds little chance as it then bounced up into the roof of the net, a bit of a soft goal to lose. Darlington then enjoyed their best spell of football of the half for the next five minutes without really threatening the Queens goals.
Queens finished the half the stronger however as Lyle almost got on the end of an O'Connor cross, then Sean himself shot wide after escaping his marker again and finally Alex Burke slid the ball past the post as he stretched to meet an O'Connor cross.
The second half saw no changes to the line-up but within minutes Queens almost went behind as Andy Aitken got a shout to leave a ball heading back to goal only for it to be pounced upon by a Darlington forward who could only find a post with it.
We were almost treated to what would have been a classic goal as Eric Paton starting from right back position ran almost the length of the field ending up on the edge of the Darlington box, he just over stretched for the final shot and could not get any power on the ball unfortunately.
We then did see an exceptional goal as Derek Lyle in the centre circle released Alex Burke down the left hand side, Burke took the ball to the by-line as he was closed down by Price and Keltie, as both Darlington players attempted to make contact with the ball Burke lifted it clear of both and into the back of the net for a top notch finish to make it 2-1 to Queens.
The lead only lasted five minutes however as Gibson and Thomson combined to lose the ball on the edge of the home area, the result was an open goal that Robson was happy to tap the loose ball into to tie the scores. Darlington then had another five minutes in the ascendancy as Queens toiled to get things flowing again.
John Connolly obviously thought a fresh pair of legs was needed too as he introduced Sandy Hodge for David Bagan in a straight swap and then Derek Allan for Brian McColligan in a move that allowed Eric Paton to switch to midfield and Derek Allan to take on the right back duties.
Queens then regained the upper hand and could have regained the lead as a Joe McAlpine cross was met first time by a contorted Sean O'Connor, the big man this time blasting the ball well over the bar from around eight yards out. The final real chance for Queens was an Eric Paton shot from the edge of the box after good work from O'Connor that released Burke to provide the cross that Paton shot toward goal.
The final Queens substitution was made with around ten minutes to go as Craig Coates was introduced for Willie Gibson, this moved Derek Lyle across on to the wing and put Coates up front with O'Connor for the final few minutes.
The summary of the match is that it was a good workout against a side of a good quality that Queens could have won but for two avoidable goals.