With a buoyant atmosphere existing throughout the orange camp following the recent victory against AFC Burnham, The Queen FC took to the field to face Dartford Royals. The home side were forced to prepare without the presence of head coach Lee Ashley, so it became the responsibility of assistant manager Bob Illsley to support the quest for another victory.
In terms of team news, it came as no surprise that changes were minimal from last week's victory. The vacancies left by the absent Jason Parker and Sean Cahill were filled by the returning player/coach Paul Miller and the ever reliable Ash Verrell. This meant that makeshift striker Scott Hunter maintained his position as the spearhead in attack, despite the return of Nick Clarke, who took his place on the three man subs bench.
Despite the pre-match buoyancy, the atmosphere unfortunately never translated on to the pitch for the home side as they struggled to find their feet in an out of character performance. This was epitomised in the opening fifteen minutes, as the visitors hit the upright twice and home goalkeeper Joe Stevens was called into action on several more occasions. Stevens' eighteen yard box was relentlessly subjected to crosses from both sides of the pitch; it was surely to only be a matter of time before the hosts would find themselves on the receiving end of a one way scoreline. The Queen did manage to notch a couple of efforts on target but only from long distance, none of which were particularly troublesome for the visiting goalkeeper.
Nobody at Gamecock Meadows could quite believe that the scoreline remained goalless at the interval. This break could only be described as a gift for the hosts, who could use it to re-group and prepare for a much improved performance after the break.
Two niggling injuries for the hosts saw Ash Verrell and Jason Moxom make way for Raymond Steer and Nick Clarke respectively. Scott Hunter therefore took his place in familiar surroundings alongside Matt Tylee at the heart of The Queen defence to allow Clarke to lead the line up front.
Optimism is a great thing but unfortunately does not guarantee what you wish for. The Queen's supporters were left dejected as their side could only hold on to a clean sheet for just three minutes after the restart. A well-deserved lead for the youthful opponents who continued their free scoring start to the season following an opening day annihilation of NSSC Ashes.
Following this inevitable opening goal, the hosts became increasingly reliant on the old fashioned long ball. No surprises that very little was created as a result of this, as Clarke was running backwards and forwards chasing lost causes. Steer did have a long range effort that was tipped over the bar, but aside from that the hosts obliged and begun to wave the white flag. So, when the visitors increased their lead ten minutes from time there were no calls for injustice. An unchallenged cross from the right made its way across the penalty area to be diverted into the bottom corner of Stevens' goal. Game, set and match.
On the back of this display, it is clear that improvement is needed should The Queen want to be competitive this season. Next up for the orange army is Thameside Lions.