Improved Colts come up just short.
The Colts entertained 3rd placed Bangor Amateurs who had brushed the youngsters aside rather easily at the beginning the month. Debutant Eoin O’Hare partnered John Nutman in central defence with Robbie Reid at right back. Liam Devlin made the bench but experienced pain in the warm-up and did not feature in the game.
Queen’s made a solid beginning to a competitive match and the early exchanges were fairly even. The Amateurs gradually took a firm grip on the encounter, forcing Lewsley in goal to be alert on a couple of occasions. The students were struggling to deal with a fairly robust and physically fit outfit, losing a lot of headers and second balls. After fifteen minutes a wicked diagonal cross from the left eluded left back Tim Nelson at the far post and the ball was volleyed superbly into the far corner of the net well beyond the reach of keeper Nick Lewsley.
The Colts responded quite well and produced a couple of pot-shots at goal with both Boyd and Kennedy going close. Lively winger Niall Greenlees had the better of his marker and produced a couple of quality crosses from the right. However, after half an hour full-back Nelson was caught in possession at the corner of his own box and fouled his opponent while attempting to reclaim the ball. The ref pointed to the spot and Bangor increased their lead to 2-0. Queen’s weathered the storm until the break with Lewsley saving smartly with his legs on one occasion and taking the ball off an attacker’s head with his finger tips on another.
Manager McArthur’s team-talk centred around belief, communication and the importance of the next goal going to Queen’s. The students produced a hugely improved half of football. From the first whistle the youngsters were on the front foot. Full-backs Nelson and Reid pushed forward and combined with their wingers effectively. Queen’s were now winning a few more tackles and generally playing with a lot more intensity. Some neat interplay between Bravo and Greenlees carved out an opening and Jonny Boyd’s header was superbly saved by the visitor’s keeper down low to his left. Queen’s pushed hard to find the goal their possession and play warranted and looked a different team in the second period. Substitutes Jones and Beams injected a bit of extra energy and when Bravo was upended close to the penalty box David Kennedy produced a stunning free-kick finish to the delight of his team-mates and coaches.
The students pressed hard for the equaliser in the last fifteen minutes. Bangor – clearly nervous and unsettled by the goal – were reduced to time-wasting activities as they tried to hang on to their lead. Boyd went close from a corner and Queen’s sent keeper Lewsley up for a corner in injury time. The Colts had one last chance to grab a point when the impressive Bravo was through on goal but the visitor’s keeper got his toe to the ball as the elegant Spaniard was rounding him and after the resulting corner fizzled out the ref brought an end to a pulsating contest.
So, disappointment for the youngsters who more than deserved a point – especially for their second half efforts. However, Queen’s can take a lot of encouragement from this much improved performance. Match fitness is building week by week and bonds are forming between the players as the this new team comes together and adjusts to life in a higher division. There will hopefully be two more league matches before the students go home for Christmas.
Queen’s Colts 1 – 2 Bangor Amateurs 2nds
MOM: Robbie Reid