Sunday 23rd August 2015
Friendly v Falkirk Mallards at Holyrood Sports Centre
Andy Dick; Ally McNaught, Allan Mackenzie (Robert Shimmons), Alan Galindo, Ross Dunbar; Gary Duncan (c), Sean Connolly; Darren Dunsmore, David Blair (Derek Muir), Craig McKenna; Neale Waugh
At last a home game and we were back at the Fortress against Falkirk Mallards, the current Ian Younger Sixes holders.
There were changes to the team that played against MacDonald Rovers for various reasons and one of the absentees, Lenny, was on the touchline in a knee brace after his injury the previous Sunday.
Also on the sidelines was CC who is slowly getting back to fitness after his knee injury and remarkably took part in the warm up, a first for him. Crossers was also along to watch as he is another one out with a knee injury as that part of the body becomes our Achilles Heel.
On a lovely warm day the Boss selected Andy D in goals; Ally and Wee Al at full backs; Gee, outfield at last, and Ross in central defence; Gary and Sean in front of the back four; Darren, LHD and Craig ahead of them; and Neale up front.
It was a special day for our two “holding midfielders” as Gary was making his 100th appearance and wore the captain’s armband whilst Sean was signing off from the team for a while as he moves to Qatar to teach, science not football naturally.
The only time we’d previously played Falkirk at elevens the Mallards won 6-0 so this was always going to be a hard game.
The game started off at a good pace with both teams trying to adjust to the surface which, after having a lot of rain on it overnight, was slippy underfoot.
No real chances early on but after about twenty minutes Falkirk took the lead with a nostalgic Fortress goal. The Mallards Manager Iain Askham lobbed the ball over Andy D from outside the box and brought back memories of many a lobbed goal on the surface !
Falkirk probably deserved their lead and you could tell we were rattled as there was a lot of moaning going on but we nearly hit back when Neale broke through but his shot went over the bar.
About ten minutes from half time we managed to get level when a long throw from LHD was missed by everybody at the front post. The ball fell to Craig and he made a slick turn (or he stumbled according to his faither–in-law) and shot home to make it one all at the break.
Boab and Del came on at half time with Al and LHD having a rest.
The second half was more open and both teams had chances as they went in search of victory.
After less than ten minutes of the half we were ahead. Darren picked the ball up just inside our half and made a great run down the right wing. He got into the Mallards area and put over a cross which a defender deflected past the keeper for an own goal. Falkirk claimed offside against Neale in the middle but that was just a hopeful shout.
There was an unusual occurrence just after this when Jim the Ref gave an indirect free kick against Falkirk for a passback which the keeper picked up. It was unusual because Jim noticed this but Craig’s shot, after a lay off from Ross, was blocked.
Falkirk came back at us strongly and Andy D had to show excellent handling from long range efforts as the pressure was turned on.
As is becoming the norm we picked up a couple of injuries and Ally limped off to be replaced by LHD at left back (!) and Al came on for Craig with Ross going into midfield.
Ross made an immediate impact when he collected the ball about 30 yards out and fired a shot into the top corner for our third goal.
There were still chances at both ends but the scoreline stayed the same and a second successive Sunday victory was achieved.
Back to the JB Pavilion afterwards to say goodbye to Sean and we wish him well on his time in Qatar.
THE FINAL WORD FROM THE BOSS
Another excellent win for our boys against a good Mallards team on Sunday. In terms of standard I think that Falkirk were every bit as good as most of the teams we will face in the IFA and it was a good workout for the lads in testing conditions. We matched up well to a good footballing side after a tricky opening 25 minutes, and in my opinion probably deserved to edge them out. Some of the defending in particular was excellent and considering the long term injury to Lenny, such a key figure back there, that was very encouraging to see.
Overall, an excellent QP performance with some bright individual displays as well. Alan Galindo was outstanding at the heart of defence and Darren Dunsmore showed the threat he can be with some brilliant work down the right, his run for the second goal was superb. Congratulations also to Gary Duncan who led the team to victory on his 100th appearance.
Next up we face a very good Motherwell side in the league on Saturday at Toryglen. Some bad memories of facing them on that pitch from back in the day, but we did beat them when we last met, a 3-1 win in December 2014. We showed what we were capable of that day, and on the back of our four game unbeaten run, I see no reason as to why we can't enjoy a similar result this time around.