Queens began their defence of the Ramsdens Cup with a comfortable 4-0 win over Lowland League Opponents, Spartans at Palmerston this afternoon as three first half goals in an eleven minute spell laid the foundations for a fairly routine victory which was sealed later in the game when Queens added a fourth goal.
For his first competitive game in charge manager, Jim McIntyre, kept with the 4-1-2-3 formation that he has used so successfully in the pre-season warm up games, with Derek Young playing just in front of the back four. New signings Calum Antell, and Andy Dowie made their competitive debuts, whilst the club`s other new signing, Iain Russell, was amongst the substitutes. Lowland League side Spartans, who qualified to play Queens after narrowly coming through a two-legged tie against Threave Rovers, were making their debut appearance in the Ramsdens Cup 1st round.
With a shower of rain marking the start of the match, Queens kicked off attacking the Terregles Street end of the ground, and immediately they began passing the ball around with great confidence, as the Spartans players struggled to get anywhere near the ball in the opening few minutes. With Queens being so dominant from the kick-off, it appeared that the opening goal was not far away, and any chance that Spartans had of creating a cup upset seemed to disappear as early as the 12th minute when following a corner, the cup holders took the lead. After a dangerous cross was whipped in by McKenna from the left,it was cleared for a corner, and from the set-piece Chris Mitchell produced a perfect delivery that was met by a powerful header from Stephen McKenna to give Queens an early advantage.
McKenna heads home his first
There was no let up in Queens dominance of the game, and a shot from Mitchell after Michael Paton`s burst down the left, was always going wide of the near upright. The home fans in the crowd of 1224 did not have very long to wait for the next goal, as after 18 minutes, Queens doubled their lead. The first involvement in the game by Danny Carmichael down the right, eventually led to Queens being awarded a free-kick a few yards in from the right touchline, and once again Mitchell`s perfect delivery went beyond a static Spartans defence to find Derek Lyle unmarked at the far post to slam home a volley from 4-yards. At that stage things were looking bleak for the visitors as Queens threatened to score every time they went forward, and a flowing move involving McKenna and Mitchell allowed McKenna to find Paul Burns with his cross, and although the midfielder`s header was on target, Spartans defender Cennerazzo was on hand to clear the ball to safety.
Derek Lyle slams in his goal
Five minutes later and the game was all but over as Queens scored a third goal in the space of just 11 minutes. A shot from just outside the area from McKenna looked to be going well wide of the target, but it was deflected giving Queens what was a rather fortunate corner. Once more Mitchell produced a perfect delivery straight onto the head of `goal scoring machine` Stephen McKenna who headed home unchallenged from close range. The goal was enough to double the midfielder`s total for the whole of last season!!. Just short of the half an hour mark, the cup holders had a further chance to add to their goals tally when a cross from Mitchell was blocked into the path of Carmichael, but the winger dragged his shot a few yards wide of the visitors goal when he probably would have at least expected to work the `keeper.
Stephen McKenna heads home his second goal of the game
With 33 minutes played, Spartans managed to create their first real effort of the game, when Beacher cut in from the left and drove his shot a few feet wide of goal without testing Calum Antell. It seemed as though Queens had added to the score minutes later, but following a shot from Burns that `keeper Bennett did well to save, Lyle was standing in an offside position as he tapped in the rebound. Former Forfar player, Kevin Motion, became the first player to be cautioned after a foul on Derek Young, and just before the break, McKenna passed up a fantastic chance to net his hat-trick, when again from Mitchell`s excellent delivery he could only blast a close range volley not only over the bar, but also out of the ground as well. With Carmichael and Paton having swapped flanks, a header from Carmichael almost added a fourth goal as once again an excellent delivery from Mitchell caused the visiting defenders yet more problems. The decision to move Carmichael to the left almost paid dividends as right on the stroke of half-time, the winger`s run and curling shot was only inches away from finding the top corner.
The half ended with Queens well on top, and certainly worthy of their three goal advantage with Chris Mitchell playing a decisive role in all three goals.
HALF-TIME QUEENS 3-0 SPARTANS
Neither side made any changes at the interval, although as early as the 6th minute of the half, Iain Russell was given his Queens competitive debut when he replaced Michael Paton. The half took time to get going, and Queens started to look a bit complacent during the opening spell, and Spartans had a half chance when a shot from Motion was not too far wide of Antell`s goal. Gradually Queens began to raise their game, and a superb pass from defence from McKenna found Russell down the right, but just as the striker looked to find a pass for Lyle, the Spartans defence had closed ranks and the attack was ended. Danny Carmichael made way for Gavin Reilly on 58 minutes, and Queens went close to scoring again moments later when Chris Higgins out jumped everyone at another Mitchell corner, the skipper not able to keep his header under the crossbar.
With the pressure still on the visitors, Kevin Holt was next to go close to scoring as that man Mitchell again produced a perfect cross, this time from open play and Holt`s powerful header produced a fine save from Spartans `keeper Bennett. Holt was denied in that incident, but minutes later the full-back did finally add a fourth goal for Queens. Excellent play from Lyle saw him turn close to the bye-line, before chipping a perfect ball to the far post where Kevin Holt out muscled the defence to head home.
Kevin Holt heads in at the back post
To their credit, Spartans continued to try and press forward, and they went close on two occasions as they looked to get themselves on the score sheet. Firstly a shot from Beacher flew into the side netting as Queens began to look a little tired, and then Antell made his first save of the game to deny Beacher once again. The final change for Queens saw Ian McShane replace Derek Young for the last quarter of the game, but the nearest any of the sides came to scoring in the closing stages was when Spartans defender Blaikie placed his free header from a corner wide of the goal from 4-yards out.
Stephen McKenna had a half chance to score his third when he found himself clear just outside the area, but caught between going for goal or passing, he ended up doing neither and the ball was cleared. The final chance fell to Gavin Reilly just inside stoppage time, but his well hit shot produced a decent save from Bennett who parried the shot wide.
Some good football at times from Queens today, and some excellent deliveries from set-pieces by Chris Mitchell. Sponsors man-of-the-match went to Stephen McKenna, as the Ramsdens cup holders progressed safely into round two of the competition.