|2006/07 Season Review
||A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
|Part Two - August||12th May 2007|
For the 9th time in 11 years the league season started with a defeat, this time by 2-0 at Livingston. To be honest we didn't play badly in the game and Graham Weir should perhaps have opened the scoring midway through the second half before late goals from Dave McKay and Paul Shields, the latter following a terrible mistake by Murray Henderson, clinched the points for the home side.
McCall confirmed that speculation linking him with a move for Gretna's Davie Nicholls as cover for Aitken was true but ultimately it came to nothing and the veteran remained with the Raydale side. Meantime Queens advanced to the second round of the CIS Cup following a storming 4-2 win over Clyde at Palmerston. O'Neill (2), Henderson and Weir all scored in the first half, although a handling error by Corr allowed Imrie to nick one back for Clyde. In the second half Queens stood firm apart from a mix-up between Corr and Henderson that saw the centre half eventually have to give away a penalty scored by Stephen O'Donnell. The reward was a return visit from Kilmarnock. John O'Neill was named "Player of the Round" for his scoring double.
Murray Henderson got off to a great start with a goal against Clyde.
No such luck in the league campaign though as the first home game yielded a 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone courtesy of Simon Mensing's early headed goal. We never really looked much like getting an equaliser and all hope evaporated once Jim Lauchlan was sent off late on for hauling back Steven Milne.
The first round of the Challenge Cup brought neighbours Stranraer through to Dumfries for a quickfire return to Palmerston. If truth be told it was a mundane performance all round though we were never in any danger of not winning really and duly did so with a John O'Neill penalty, awarded for a foul on Graham Weir.
Paul Burns cuts out Stranraer's Paul McMullan
Before the weekend's trip to Airdrie though there was more player movement. It had been made clear to Derek Lyle that he was surplus to McCall's requirements at Queens and he negotiated his release to join Dundee. Needless to say he would come back to haunt us many times before the season ended! Coming the other way was young winger Barry Callaghan who signed up on loan from Dundee United until January. He made an immediate debut at Airdrie in what was already looking a vital league match at the foot of the table. The home side had the better if the game for most of the match and took the lead in the second half when Brian McPhee seized on an error from Jim Thomson to race clear and score. However, Queens battled back and O'Neill netted a penalty after he himself had been brought down before Murray Henderson smuggled in a second off his hand from Willie Gibson's cross! Justice was probably done though when Garry Tierney glanced home a header for an Airdrie equaliser with the last touch of the game. It felt like two points dropped but it was the least Airdrie deserved.
August was certainly a busy month, with midweek matches every week and next along was the visit of Kilmarnock in the CIS Cup. This turned out to be one of the best performances of the season from Queens and they so nearly ousted the SPL side who would go on to reach the final. Sean O'Connor bundled us ahead early in the second half but Grant Murray headed Killie level from a late set-piece. Willie Gibson came within an ace of winning it in the final minute and Michael Mullen should have given us the lead in the first half of extra time but in the end some sublime skill from Stevie Naismith clinched the victory with just seven minutes of extra time remaining. Before the weekend's Dumfriesshire derby match Des McCaffrey joined up on loan from Hibernian until January also.
An expectant crowd before the Gretna match
On Saturday a superb crowd of 5,481 descended on Palmerston full of optimism for the first ever competitive meeting between Queens and Gretna. The visitors had started the season looking again like they might steamroller all in front of them but the performance against Kilmarnock had given Doonhamers hope that an opening league victory of the campaign was possible. It didn't last long unfortunately. Colin McMenamin ghosted in for the first after a tight opening half hour and when Danny Grainger's free kick eluded Colin Scott on the stroke of half time the game was over as a contest in reality. Scott did keep things interesting with a string of second half saves but McMenamin clinched the points with a late third. Just to add to the gloom Graham Weir suffered a fractured cheekbone in an accidental clash with Sean O'Connor whilst O'Connor himself was stretchered off with a suspected broken ankle though it fortunately turned out to be merely ligament damage.
The final match of the month saw us crash out of the Challenge Cup at home to second division Ayr in somewhat unfortunate circumstances. Before the game we signed Australian Warren Moon to a short-term contract that would eventually be extended to the end of the season. A rash challenge by Barry John Corr gifted Ayr a penalty early in the second half which Chris Robertson duly netted but John O'Neill clipped home Callaghan's wonderful pass to equalise and when Jim Lauchlan's shot deflected in to give us the lead with 12 minutes to go we looked safe enough. However, Willie Gibson had to go off injured with all three subs already used and in the final minute Paul Weaver's off target shot took a wicked deflection off Scott McKenzie and spun past Corr for an equaliser. Playing a man short throughout extra time Queens basically just clung on for penalties and did so successfully only to lose a cup tie on spot-kicks for the first time in our history. Mark McGeown saved Andy Thomson's kick and Ayr buried all five of theirs to advance. For the record the successful men with our kicks were O'Neill, McKenzie, Paton and Scally.
Callaghan looked good when given a run
Photo - Angus McDougal
So the month of August ended poorly for Queens. We were out of both cups despite a super performance against Kilmarnock and had gathered only a solitary point from four league games which meant we sat bottom of the table, though behind Airdrie only on goal difference and trailing Clyde by a point and Ross County and Dundee by two in what was already looking a table of two distinct halves.