|2005/06 Season Review
||A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
Season Review 2005/06
This is the fifth time I've had the task of writing the season review for the Official Website and those years have never been short of interest. First there was a championship season in 01/02 and then a Bells Cup win and survival in division one in 02/03. The following year saw us top the whole Scottish Football League for a while and lose the talismanic John Connolly whilst last season was one of steady progress and a highest finish in Scottish football since league reconstruction in the 70's. Maybe just once it would be nice to have a straightforward season to write about. This wasn't one!
Over the course of the season we would hit our lowest ebb since the days of Rowe, Eadie and Hamilton's 15 point deduction, be forced to sack our first manager since Rowan Alexander departed in January 1999, appoint the highest profile manager at Palmerston since God knows when (quite possibly ever!) and then sink lower still before bouncing back with one of the most spectacular recoveries in the history of the club to send our derby neighbours Stranraer careering into the playoffs instead. It was a season that saw the return of a genuine Palmerston legend in Andy Thomson after more than ten years away along with three lesser legends in the making in John O'Neill, Andy Aitken and Sean O'Connor. And it all began last summer……….
|Part One - Summer 2005|
Manager Iain Scott had decided that continuity was the way forward for Queen of the South last year and, having attained 4th spot in the First Division, the highest finish for over 40 years, he awarded most of the squad extended contracts for this season. In fact only three senior players actually departed last summer as David Craig, Steven Bell and Emilio Jaconelli moved on. There was even less movement inward as only John O'Neill, re-signed on a free transfer from St Mirren after two years away, added to last season's squad. Many were surprised though when Scott made it clear that he had brought O'Neill back as a striker and not as the midfielder most believed to be his strongest position.
The squad for 2005/06
The only other interesting note before pre-season friendlies kicked off was that both Iain Scott and Stuart Lovell passed their UEFA "A" Grade coaching exams, becoming two of only 11 people to pass the course in Scotland over the past two years. Quite an achievement for one small club!
The first week in July saw pre-season begin with what was theoretically a closed doors friendly away to Queens Park. In practice the park was open to all visitors as we eased to a 2-1 victory with Brian McLaughlin scoring both goals just before the interval. The weekend saw a lengthy trip to Leigh RMI where David McNiven equalised late on against his previous club to gain a draw after Chris Simm had given the Conference side a second half lead.
The next midweek saw both Queens and Annan field very much fringe sides in match won all too easily by the visitors. John O'Neill and Brian McLaughlin scored twice each with Scott Robertson bagging the other in a 5-0 win at Galabank. The match was perhaps most notable for the surprise reappearance of former keeper Stuart Robertson as a Trialist due to an injury to Richie Barnard.
Saturday July 16th saw the first Palmerston friendly and the first higher tempo match of pre-season too. SPL side Hibernian were the visitors and though they also had a team at Ayr United that day, there's little doubt their stronger squad was in Dumfries. A tight match saw the score finish up 0-0 thanks in the main to Richie Barnard who made two fine saves.
However, the following Wednesday saw Queens totally outclassed at home by a Carlisle United side who would, in fairness, go on to be crowned League Two champions in England. The Cumbrians were far too quick and strong for us on the night and a 2-1 victory, which could even have been a draw had David McNiven not missed a final minute sitter, certainly flattered us more than them. Jim Thomson's error handed Carlisle's Karl Hawley, once of Raith Rovers, an early goal and it was 2-0 midway through the second half when their centre half was given time and space to control and fire home at a corner. Stephen Payne scored a consolation free kick with five minutes remaining.
If Wednesday night was embarrassing though Saturday afternoon proved to be exhilarating as Queens stuffed Motherwell's full strength side 4-0 at Palmerston. Granted the visitors had David Clarkson sent off for a head butt on Gary Wood early on but never the less, two goals each for McNiven and Wood (playing at right back) confirmed an easy win.
Pre-season was completed with another trip to Annan Athletic, arranged at the last minute. Again Queens fielded what was largely a reserve eleven and deservedly trailed 2-0 at half time but with Eric Paton and Derek Lyle pushed forward in the second half we came back to win 3-2 with Paton scoring twice and setting the other up for Lyle. Former Ayr United midfielder Stuart McGrady played in the game as a Trialist and did enough to earn a short term deal though he never took the field in a competitive game for the club in his time here.
Del in action against 'Well
|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Part 4||Part 5||Part 6||Part 7||Part 8||Part 9||Part 10||Part 11||Part 12