30/05/15 - IFA League v Real Maroon at Saughton
Alan Galindo; Adam Walker, Ross Pollock, Allan Lennox, Allan Mackenzie; Gary Duncan, Ross Dunbar (c), Raymond Ford; Sean Connolly, David Blair, Ally Downie
Queen’s put in their best performance of the season, as we recorded only our second IFA League victory of the campaign against Real Maroon in Edinburgh.
Hearts dominated the early stages and they took a deserved lead early on, but for the second week in a row we roared back to win from a losing position, with goals from Ross Dunbar (2), debutant Ally Downie and Ray Ford securing the points.
With only 11 players (and a half fit gaffer still recovering from his latest knee injury) to choose from the selection was pretty straightforward in the early afternoon sun. Alan Galindo filled in between the sticks while Walker, Lennox, Mackenzie and Ross Pollock made up the back four.
Skipper Ross Dunbar lined up in midfield with Duncan and Ford, while Connolly and Blair supported new boy Downie, who was operating as a lone striker.
One glaring omission from the team was Ally McNaught, who missed his first game of the season due to a back injury. Ally was there on the sidelines to help his brother out and hopefully he’ll be fit enough to take part in the Sixes Weekend.
With a bare XI, the expectation was that Queen’s would face an uphill task on the perfect 3G pitch at Saughton, and early indicators were that this expectation was correct.
They were dominating possession and a Maroon striker missed a glaring chance within a couple of minutes heading over from six yards. With barely five minutes gone, the hosts had gone in front.
A passing move had our defence and midfield in a tangle, and the Hearts left back curled in an exquisite shot from twenty yards with our defence backing off.
Hearts must have thought we were there for the taking and only a couple minutes later Galindo made an excellent save low to his right to stop them doubling their lead.
Out of nowhere though we found some inspiration. Downie and Dunbar were pulling the strings in the final third, and we were looking threatening every time we got forward.
Downie passed up a couple of decent chances after good link up play with Ross, before Dunbar tested the Jambos keeper for the first time with a sweet volley from a Downie knockdown.
Galindo was forced into another excellent save, this time from a close range header around the 20 minute mark, before Davie Blair passed up our best chance of the half so far when he miscued a close range shot after a threatening Pollock corner.
The game was now an awful lot closer than it had been earlier on, and we equalised just before the half hour with an excellent counter attacking goal.
Ray Ford, carrying a knock and unusually quiet so far, picked up a loose ball on the edge of our box before driving on down the left. He exchanged a couple of quick one-twos with Dunbar to bamboozle the Hearts midfield and crossed to Connolly at the back post.
Connolly took one touch, slid the ball sideways to the supporting Dunbar, and the skipper took his time to slam a composed finish beyond the Hearts keeper and into the net. 1-1 and Queen’s were now in the ascendancy.
Downie missed another good chance for a debut goal, when he couldn’t quite evade a last man tackle following a long ball forward and Dunbar came close again with a shot from twenty yards that was brilliantly saved.
Hearts did pick up again towards the end of the half, but Galindo and his defence stood firm, with Gee making another tremendous close range save to keep the scores level at half time.
The message at half time was ‘more of the same’ but Queen’s managed to improve the performance even more in the early stages of the second period.
Ford and then Downie passed up decent chances to give us the lead before we managed to edge in front just before the 55 minute mark.
A long, flighted free kick from Lennox found an inexplicably unmarked Dunbar twenty five yards from goal. The captain chested the ball down, turned and arced a volley past the keeper into the bottom corner.
A truly superb strike, and if the voting hadn’t already been closed it could have well been our Goal of the Season!
At 2-1 Queen’s, Maroon made a couple of changes and with our legs tiring in the heat they started to create chances to level things up.
Thankfully for us, Galindo was on top form and he brilliantly tipped a long range shot onto the bar before making another barely believable close range save from a header.
The Hearts heads were going down as we ticked towards the end, and when their number 9 slid an easy one-on-one wide from less than ten yards you started to think it wasn’t going to be their day.
We continued to stand as firm as possible at the back, but we needed a break to kill the game off, and we got in with ten minutes remaining.
Ford intercepted a dreadfully slack pass at the heart of Maroon’s defence, and with Downie for support in a two on one with the keeper; he slid the ball right to the big striker who rounded off an excellent debut with a simple finish.
A number of Hearts players slumped to the turf as they couldn’t believe their pressure hadn’t told, and we managed to give the result a gloss in the final moments against beleaguered opposition.
Downie should have made it four from close range after great work by Pollock on the left, before we did find a final goal through the right boot of Ford.
He got on the end of a through ball just over the half way line, carried the ball in unopposed, and lifted a deft chip over a grounded goalkeeper to seal the points.
An excellent performance and victory for Queen’s, and its fair to say the post match sesh in the Capital lived up to expectations also. Player of the Day went to Alan Galindo on a day on which there were 11 serious contenders.