It was a stroll in the Annan sunshine today, as Queens ran out very comfortable, 2-0, winners in the first pre-season friendly.
This was the first chance for the fans to see, new manager, Jim McIntyres side and after some debate over whether the formation would be 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, he lined his team up in a 4-3-3. The back four containted three of last years defence, with new signing Andy Dowie lining up alongside Mitchell, Holt and Durnan. Youngsters Slattery and McShane joined Young in the centre of midfield, while the other new summer signing, Iain Russell, started on the left wing, with Paton on the right and Lyle through the middle. There was also a trialist in goals, who played the full 90 minutes.
After a bright start by Annan, it was Queens who took control of the game. The two centre halves were seeing plenty of the ball and there were some nice inter-changes with the midfield trio and, in particular, Paton who was easily the best player on show.
The first chance of the match, though, came from Durnan who saw his header, from a Mitchell, corner clumsily turned behind by the defender on the post.
Queens were dominating posession but it took a penalty to get the break through, after 21 minutes. After a, fairly obvious, handball in the box Iain Russell stepped up and confidently dispatched the spot kick, sending Arthur in the Annan goal the wrong way. It was no more than the visitors deserved, but it took something special to make it 2-0.
It was that man Paton, who had looked sharp and confident throughout the first half, who provided it. He had switched to the left flank and picked up the ball around 20 yards out, just at the corner of the penalty area. Anyone who was at the Brechin game last season might have known what was coming next, but Kenny Arthur certainly didnt as Paton unleashed an unstoppable shot into the far top corner on 39 minutes.
Somewhat surprisingly, for a pre-season match, Queens didnt make any changes at half time and there was no change in the pattern of play either - if anything Queens had more possession, but while they kept the ball well there wasnt really a cutting edge or many clear cut chances.
The expected substitutions came on 54 minutes, when McIntyre made six changes. On came Higgins, McGuffie, Burns, McKenna, Carmichael and Reilly. Dan Orsi had to wait another 10 mintues before he also came on.
Higgins went to left back, the midfield three was now McKenna, Burns and McGuffie. Reilly was up front with Carmichael and Orsi wide.
The remaining 20 minutes or so were much of the same, almost total possession for Queens but without really ever opening Annan up. There were chances, though. Durnan saw another header cleared off the line, again from a Mitchell corner. Carmichael, Orsi, Russell and McKenna all came close too. The best chance of the second half fell to McGuffie, though. After an Annan attack broke down, the trialist keeper rolled the ball out and three slick passess later Ryan was through on goal but screwed his shot just wide of the post. A great chance after some really nice football.
The final action saw Reilly rattle the bar after some good work down the left between Orsi and Higgins. It was a really sharp turn and shot from the young striker. It would have been a deserved goal and would have made the scoreline reflect Queens dominance a little better.
So, the new reign, under McIntyre is up and running. The new manager will be very pleased with the way his side played today, in particular the way the controlled possession.