Queens continued their preparations for the new season this afternoon as they entertained SPL side Hearts in a friendly on Palmerston`s new 5G surface, and although the game ended scoreless, in what turned out to be a thoroughly entertaining game, it was the home side who could count themselves unlucky not to have claimed the victory. On a muggy afternoon, both teams produced some quality passing football on the new surface all of which was well appreciated by the crowd, whose numbers were boosted by a considerable number of travelling Hearts supporters.
A great support down from Edinburgh
Queens boss, Jim McIntyre selected a 4-1-3-2 line-up which saw new signing Andy Dowie partner club captain Chris Higgins at the heart of the defence, with A.Trialist, sitting just in front of the back four. The midfield roles went to Stephen McKenna, Paul Burns and Danny Carmichael, whilst the attacking looking formation was headed by a front two of Michael Paton, and Derek Lyle. Visitors Hearts included Ryan Stevenson and Joe Hamill in from the start, with the rest of the team comprising of several of the promising youngsters, who due to the financial restraints at the club, are finding themselves being thrust into the first team. There was no place in the side for former Queens loanee `keeper Jamie McDonald, his place going to Mark Ridgers who was starting for the first time this pre-season.
Hearts got the game under way and as the early pattern of the game was set, it was Queens who started the brighter as they seemed to adapt to the new surface far easier than their opponents. The Queens player that was on trial in midfield was always eager to claim possession of the ball, and in the opening stages he showed some neat touches as well as producing some delightful passes, and after 8 minutes his cross was headed down in the area to Paul Burns, but he was unable to keep his shot low enough to cause any danger to the Hearts defence.Queens were pushing forward with great confidence, and when Stephen McKenna intercepted a poor clearance 25 yards from goal, the ball rolled nicely into the path of Michael Paton, but in choosing to shoot first time his aim was well off and his effort sailed well wide of the target. The visitors had hardly set foot in the Queens half, but just after the quarter of an hour mark a neat passing move gave them their first opportunity of the game. Striker Billy King did well to hold off Chris Higgins on the edge of the box before slipping the ball to Jamie Walker who fired an effort across the goal and only just wide of the far post. The play switched quickly to the other end, and a driving run from Burns set up a shooting chance for Danny Carmichael, and his low shot from just outside the box caused a problem for `keeper Ridgers by bouncing just in front of him, with the Hearts number one reacting well to push the ball out for a corner. Minutes later, Hearts had reason to thank their `keeper again, this time he saved well after Lyle and Carmichael combined well to give Lyle a chance from close range. A rare break from the visitors almost proved costly for Queens after a mistake from Kevin Holt, but striker King could not profit from the error and was eventually crowded out. With Queens still enjoying the bulk of the possession, and creating more goalscoring options, just past the 30 minute mark, they almost took the lead. After winning a corner on the right, Chris Mitchell`s delivery was headed back across the box by Dowie, and after controlling the ball high on his chest, Kevin Holt produced an acrobatic over-head kick that only just cleared the crossbar with the `keeper well beaten. That would have been an excellent first goal on the new 3G surface, but unfortunately, it was not to be. Not long after that, Queens had yet another chance to take the lead when a Mitchell free-kick from the left was met by a glancing header from Lyle, but with Ridgers rooted to the spot, the ball went inches past the far upright. The chances were being created, but Queens were just not able to capitalise on their dominance of the game, and 5 minutes before the break, they had two more chances to open the scoring, both coming from corner kicks. The first saw Hearts `keeper Ridgers pull off an outstanding reflex save to deny a powerful header from Higgins finding it`s way into the net, and that was quickly followed by a free header from Dowie crashing against the bar, as Queens ended the half well on top. Hearts were hardly seen as an attacking force during the first period, and as a result, Queens trialist `keeper, did not have to make a single save throughout the half.
Holt goes close with a spectacular effort
HALF-TIME QUEENS 0-0 HEARTS
The visitors made 3 changes at the break with Hamill, Smith and King, being replaced by Robinson, Holt, and Carrick, whilst Queens started the half with the same eleven players. Although the changes to the side from the capital instilled a bit more energy into their play, it was Queens who continued to look the more dangerous with their attacking options, and in fact they really should have scored early in the half. The ball was collected by Lyle midway in the Hearts half and his sweeping crossfield pass found Carmichael on the right. The Queens winger teased his marker and after jinking past him,delivered what seemed to be a perfect cross for Lyle, but the striker seemed to lose control and the `keeper was alert enough to gather the ball almost off of Lyle`s toe. On the hour mark, Queens made 5 changes to their line-up as Gavin Reilly, Mark Durnan,Ryan McGuffie, Derek Young and new signing, Iain Russell, replaced Lyle, Dowie,Burns, McKenna, and Paton. Although the formation stayed the same, Derek Young took the role of A.Trialist just in front of the back four, and A.Trialist moved into midfield alongside Ryan McGuffie.
Iain Russell challenges hard
For most fans, this was their first look at Iain Russell in the Blue shirt of Queens, and the former-Livingston striker showed some nice touches, good awareness, and a good turn of speed during the 30 minutes or so that he played. After showing he was involved in a move down the left that could once again have given Queens the lead, but unfortunately his final pass was just a fraction to far ahead of any of his team-mates. There was a flurry of substitutions by both teams as the game started to become a bit disjointed, partly due to the muggy weather conditions as well as the replacements. Queens introduced Dan Orsi, Ian McShane, and Pat Slattery for Holt, Mitchell and Trialist, meaning that only Carmichael, Higgins and the trialist `keeper played the full 90 minutes. It was in the final quarter of the game that Hearts created their best chance of the entire match when Carrick`s header from 6 yards out following a good run and cross from Nicholson, flashed over the bar. Substitute Reilly had a shot from distance following a good break, and then Carmichael had an effort well blocked by Ridgers as Queens continued to look for the win. The best attempt at finding that winner came from Dan Orsi whose thunderous drive from 25 yards out forced Ridgers into making yet another fine save, diving full length to his right to push away the Queens youngsters fine effort. With a few minutes added on for the various stoppages, neither side could create any further chances, and so an entertaining game was brought to its conclusion with neither side able to break the deadlock. There were plenty of positives from the game for Queens, and on chances created, they will feel a little unlucky that they did not win the game. Some of the passing and movement-especially during the first period-would seem to suggest that Queens look comfortable with both their style of play, and also the surface that they are playing on.