Today’s fixture marked the first away trip for The Queen FC, with the short journey to Casacdes to face Battle of Britain Spitfires. Similarities between the two sides last season saw them both finish comfortably in mid-table. However, with much change in both camps, a prediction was unlikely to be accurate.
The absence of two dominant figures in the tango’s squad was to be the main pre-match talking point. Sean Cahill and Scott Hunter who both started and greatly contributed to the previous victory against Thameside Lions were not included. This saw a rare opportunity for the dedicated duo of Peter Bourne and Nick Clarke. One other change for the visitors saw the ever-present Harry Weaver make way for Andy Jones in the centre of the park.
A frantic opening ten minutes gave the neutrals plenty to get excited about. With less than two minutes on the clock, some great build up play down the right hand side saw Nick Clarke start and finish a move expertly. Pushing the ball out wide to the advancing James Jones, Clarke continued his run into the box and saw it return to him via Lewis Royal. The bearded striker made no mistake as he swept home to notch his second in as many games. Not quite as spectacular as his previous but the early advantage in this game was seen to be as important.
The home side, evidently rocked by the early goal, immediately pushed forward in search of the equaliser. The home support would not have to wait too long, three minutes to be precise. The visitors failed to deal with a ball into the eighteen yard box, and the home striker took no invitation to make them pay. Five minutes gone and parity restored.
It was at this time that the pacy wide man Paul Miller grew in to the game and was to become an orange focal point. With the ten minute mark barely breached, a disguised through ball from the revitalised Gavin Howell presented Miller with a one on one situation. A tidy finish from the left winger ensured he also had back to back scoring appearances and most importantly he had restored the visitor’s advantage.
The remainder of the half saw Miller at the forefront of everything. An out swinging free kick from Howell found that man Miller at the back post who’s volley appeared to be on target until Raymond Steer lunged to take the glory, only to see his effort clear the crossbar from one yard out.
Miller was then expertly found by Howell once again but this time his battle with the one-on-ones saw the far post deny him a second. Clarke was on hand to collect the rebound and unselfishly square it back to Miller, who then failed to hit the target. However, two minutes later Miller would wrap his first half story up in style. A delightful corner from Royal on the right side found the salmon like leap from Miller, who powered a header in to the back of the net. A two goal advantage at the break would be comforting for the visitors, but as we all know, football can be cruel at times.
A recurring theme in this game once again come to light in added time at the end of the first half. The Queen FC, despite times of dominance, failed to look convincing. A corner kick was gifted to the hosts, and in a remarkably similar fashion to the game’s last goal, the deficit was halved once more. That was bound to change team talks at the break.
One change at the interval for the tangerines saw Lewis Royal being replaced by the returning Jason Moxom. The knock sustained by Royal in the previous game was not to be tested any further.
In a mirror image of the first half, Miller was presented with early chances, but unfortunately for him the outcome was anything but as he was unable to add to his tally. Two consecutive one-on-ones saw the keeper make a low save to his right and one whistle just past the post. Would the visitor’s be made to pay for these missed chances?
In a brutal lesson for the visitors, five minutes after the restart, they had successfully squandered a two goal lead for the second time this season. A throw in from the right caused havoc in the box and triggered a pin ball scenario in which a magnet behind the goal once again restored parity. One comfort for the visitors was that last time they let a two goal lead go, they ran out comfortable winners.
This game only had room for one more goal and fortunately for the tangerines that magnet was nowhere to be seen. On the hour mark, Moxom took it passed his marker on the right wing and delivered a pin point cross to the well placed Miller at the back post. Miller expertly knocked the ball back towards the advancing Howell, who rifled the ball home from 10 yards.
The result could have been more convincing in the end had it not been for the crossbar and its hatred for Gavin Howell. A glorious half volley from Howell successfully connected with the face of the bar, for the third time in two games.
Far from the best performance by The Queen FC but three points nevertheless and a positive looking league table. Up next for the tangerines is a trip to current league leaders George Singlewell.