Today saw The Queen FC take to Gamecock Meadows for the third time in as many weeks. The opening day victory, swiftly followed by last week's reversal saw the tangerines sitting in a respectable sixth position. Today's opponents were recently relagated Thameside Lions, who prior to today's fixture had failed to register any points on the board. A win today could see the home side catapult back towards the summit in their quest for promotion.
Two changes for the home side in their starting line-up. Sean Cahill returned alongside Matt Tylee at the heart of the defence in place of the injured Ash Verrell. There was also a first start for Raymond Steer since his return from injury, as he replaced the absent Jason Moxom. There was also a notable returnee on the home bench, James Mitchell. Two weeks ahead of schedule, Mitchell is edging closer to full fitness and was considered fit enough for a reserve spot.
It was clear to see from the first whistle that both teams had prepared to attack as the game was open and frantic. Tempo was high and possession was exchanged frequently. However, there was only one team that was creating chances, and that was the home side. Within the first ten minutes, pacy wideman Paul Miller missed two gilt-edged chances and Raymond Steer volleyed wide from a near post cross. The visitors could only survive this orange wave of pressure for another ten minutes, until that man Miller finally grabbed himself a goal. A chipped ball forward was expertly flicked over the visiting back line by the dominant Scott Hunter straight into the path of Miller. This time he made no mistake as he cushioned a sweet lob over the on rushing keeper.
This goal encouraged the home side as they desperately searched for a second. Despite their best efforts, the rest of the half was restricted to half chances and long distance efforts. A cross from the right wing was drilled across the box, only for it to hit Miller square in the face and deflect well wide. Lewis Royal and Gavin Howell both took aim from distance with no luck.
The half time whistle was well received by both sides, as substitutes were seen warming up intently. An unfortunate injury to the influential playmaker Lewis Royal meant he was replaced by the opening day man of the match, Jason Parker. On the road to recovery, James Jones, was not to be pushed any more than forty five minutes, and he was replaced by Peter Bourne.
The second half started much the same as the first, with a high tempo and a tennis like pattern. However, the home side continued to create chances and threaten a second goal. The Queen's faithful following were not to be disappointed. On the hour mark, a conveniently positioned free kick was awarded to the home side following a foul on Hunter. Howell sent in a looping effort from all of twenty five yards which he saw come back off the face of the bar. The richochet fell kindly for Steer who obliged and acrobatically notched his first of the season and increase the lead.
This goal then sparked a barrage of Queen pressure which put the game beyond all doubt. Ten minutes on and the home side increased their lead further with a delicious team move. Some innocent possession play across the back four was swiftly moved into Hunter who cleverly flicked the ball into the path of Parker who unleashed a ferocious drive into the top corner.
The Queen continued to play with a freedom that was great to watch. A double substitution twenty minutes from time then proved influential as Nick Clarke took centre stage for the goal of the game. Fellow substitute, Andy Jones, carried the ball forward out of midfield before cutting a cross field pass to Hunter, who cushioned the ball into the path of the advancing Clarke. A bullet of a strike guaranteed that the visitors would have to wait at least one more week for their first point.
With twelve minutes to go, the introduction of James Mitchell was well received by all in orange as he replaced Hunter up front. It was almost a dream return three minutes later as an unselfish cut back from Parker just eluded the stretching substitute. However, Mitchell would indeed be celebrating a goal scoring return as he completed the rout with two minutes left on the clock. Following his goal, Clarke, then turned provider as he clipped a precise through ball for Mitchell to chase for a one on one with the keeper. There was to be one outcome, five nil.
In the last minute of added time, a free kick was awarded twenty five yards from goal. Howell fancied his chances and struck the ball towards the top corner, only to be denied by the crossbar for the second time in the game. This time the richochet eluded everyone and was cleared to safety.
A comfortable victory for the hosts today and a real sign of intent to the rest of the league. Next up for The Queen is an away trip to Battle of Britain Spitfires.