The pattern for the game was set as early as 45 seconds from the start, as Queen’s should have taken the lead, with Lavery blazing the ball over the bar from ten yards out as he pounced on a ball fired across the box. But United also missed a good chance four minutes later, as the ball fell to Friel wide on the right hand side of the box, but he put his effort over. On 25 minutes, Queen’s Daniel Hanna conceded a penalty at the end of a good move involving Jennings and Owens, which saw the player-manager trip over a trailing leg. Jennings took the spot kick, confidently sending Brown the wrong way. United sought to build on their advantage, and nearly doubled the lead within two minutes, as Jennings again set up Owens on the edge of the box, and the boss got off a shot with his weaker foot, which Brown did well to beat away for a corner. As the half drew to a close the Queen’s seized control of the midfield.
On 34 minutes Kevin Hagan had a powerful twenty yard volley which was heading for the top corner until Wells got the faintest of touches for a superb save. However, the deserved equaliser arrived two minutes before the break, as Queen’s worked into the box from the left for Sean Walsh to pass the ball into the net from close range. After the restart United did briefly try to regain the lead, and nearly did so in the 55th minute, when Jennings’ cushioned volley from twenty five yards out fizzed narrowly over the bar. Queens’ were racking up a series of corners, and from one in the 59th meadow the ball was headed over. On 62 minutes a shot from inside the box was deflected by Mullan, but Limavady keeper Wells produced a sensational save, twisting in mid air to block the goal bound effort. United hit back in the next minute, when Friel was on the end of a move before puting his effort wide. Next to go close was James Lavery, who got to a long ball and was given a free header inside the box, but his effort lacked power. United got a lucky break on 67 minutes, as Harkin was attacking down the right, but his cross was blocked, only for the deflection to loop high over Brown and drop into the net for the most fortuitous of goals.
Queen’s nearly equalised within three minutes, as Wells produced an excellent reaction save from Walsh and from the rebound the loose ball was hacked away. However, the debutant keeper was not done yet, as on 74 minutes he denied Walsh again, somehow blocking the striker who was almost on the goal line when Wells instinctively got down to turn the ball around the post. But all of his heroics came to naught, as, from the resultant corner kick, the ball fell to Lavery lurking on the edge of the box, who smashed the ball into the net. From yet another corner in the 81st minute, Queen’s had strong claims for a penalty for hand ball.. United were on the back foot as the game went into the last ten minutes, but also missed a great chance as Brown broke away down the left and crossed for Friel, who caught the ball on the volley but just missed the target. In the last action of the game, Ryan Mullan received a second yellow card for a mistimed tackle just outside the box in a harsh decision which took no account of the deteriorating conditions. The resultant free kick was wasted. It was a credit to both sides that they were able to produce the quality of football that they did in difficult conditions. Limavady keeper Paul Wells had an outstanding game and put for his heroics Queen’s would have won this one.
Queen’s University: Declan Brown, Thomas Plant, Zac Fletcher, James Ferrin, Daniel Hannah, Daniel Culbert, Michael Allison, Kevin Hagan (Mark Prenter 81), James Lavery, Sean Walsh (Adam Robinson 89), Ryan Murphy (Stephen McDowell 74).
Substitute not used: Neil McGaughey.
Cautioned: Plant (22), Fletcher(59), Walsh (74). Referee: Declan Hasson (Ballymoney)
Next game is an Intermediate Cup tie away to Ballyclare Comrades on Sat 24th January ko 3pm