Queens kicked off their 2012-13 league campaign with a hard fought victory over Forfar this afternoon at a sun drenched Palmerston, as two pieces of clinical finishing was the major difference between the two teams, and following on from their opening two cup victories, Queens made it three successive competitive wins at the start of a season for the first time since the 1983-84 season,some 29 years ago.
The inclusion of Dan Carmichael in place of Derek Young was the only change made to the team that started against Alloa, with new signing David Hopkirk given a place on the bench.
Kicking towards the Terregles Street end of the ground, Queens again made a bright start to the game and might have taken the lead inside the opening minute when a cross from Derek Lyle found Dan Orsi at the far post, but his header was blocked away for a corner.The resulting set-piece was cleared away but only as far as Carmichael 20 -yards from goal and his attempted curling effort,although on target, was comfortably held by Forfar `keeper Soutar. Keen to take the game to their opponents, Queens were quick to get the ball from back to front as quickly as they could, and Lee Robinson emphasised this this on a couple of occasions in the opening spell with his early clearances setting up attacks using the pace of both Orsi and Nicky Clark,but unfortunately both promising opportunites were halted by blocks from covering defenders.
The visitors replied by winning a couple of back to back corners, neither of which caused any problems for the Queens defence, and minutes later it was Queens again who created another chance to take the lead. Orsi collected the ball midway inside his own half and attacking at pace he escaped the lunge of Gibson and after exchanging passes with Carmichael, he delivered a cross to the back post that was just too high for Lyle to make any sort of decent contact with. Gibson was subsequently shown yellow for his foul. On 12 minutes Kevin Holt was yellow carded for a clumsy challenge just outside the box, and from the free-kick, Swankie`s fierce drive only just cleared the crossbar.
Lee leaps just to make sure - photo from Fraser Johnstone
Queens continued to have more of the attacking play,and following a free-kick on the left a clearing header fell nicely for Lyle and the striker`s crisp shot produced a fine diving save from the Forfar `keeper. It was Lyle again who came close to scoring as he got on the end of Chris Mitchell`s driven cross, his half-volleyed attempt being deflected wide of goal for another corner. The half an hour mark of the game turned out to be the pivotal moment of the first period, After winning three corners in succession,Forfar might have taken the lead when Mitchell`s mis-hit clearance fell into the path of Campbell on the edge of the area, but lacking composure he hit his shot high into the terraces behind the goal, and almost straight afterwards Queens took the lead. Kevin Holt`s long ball from defence found Derek Lyle just inside the box and the striker showed good control and awareness to cut back across the defender and drill a shot past Soutar from 10- yards out.
Lyle shoots to score - photo from Sandy Robertson
A second goal almost arrived a minute later when Lyle nearly got on the end of a long ball from defence, and as the Forfar `keeper chested the ball clear just outside the box it ran loose to Clark whose chipped effort was headed off the line and out for a corner. As the half neared it`s conclusion, Queens were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out after Clark was fouled, but Mitchell`s effort was poor as his shot went harmlessly over the bar.
A decent enough showing from Queens in the first half, although falling short of last week`s opening period, they still created enough chances to be more than a single goal ahead.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 1-0 FORFAR
The opening phase of the second half was quite a scrappy affair with neither side being able to keep possession for any length of time, but Queens did have the better of the half chances in the early stages, and a Mitchell cross was met by a header from Clark as he peeled away at the back post, which was quickly followed by a break involving Clark and Holt that ended with a cross for Orsi to head only inches wide of the target.
The half continued in a rather mundane fashion for 15 minutes or so, with Queens begining to sit back a little and their cohesion and fluency disappeared as the visitors became a bit more adventurous in attack, although in truth, Robinson was not really called upon to make a save of note.
With 16 minutes to go Queens created their best opportunity of the half as Mitchell and Carmichael worked a good opening down the right and from Mitchell`s cross Clark smashed the ball against the near upright from close range. Dan Orsi then created a half chance for himself by jinking past two defenders before shooting high and wide, and then Queens introduced Gavin Reilly for the tiring Lyle. As the game entered it`s closing stages, Queens survived a bit of a scare when Templeman`s shot across goal was deflected wide for a corner. With just one minute of the game left, Queens finally wrapped the game up courtesy of a very well taken individual goal. Sub Gavin Reilly picked up the ball just inside the corner of the box and twisted one way and then the other before slamming the ball right-footed past the diving Soutar from an acute angle.
Nicky is thwarted by the post - photo from Fraser Johnstone
Gavin shows great composure and skill to slot home the second goal - photo from Sandy Robertson
The returning Dan Carmichael was named as sponsors man-of-the-match, and a crowd of 1245 saw Queens claim top spot in the division after this first league game, and three wins from three games has indeed been a very decent start.