|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 Six - December||9th June 2007|
The month started with an interesting development on the goalkeeper front as Craig Hinchcliffe was signed up on a month's emergency loan to let Scott rest his injured knee. The St Mirren keeper made his debut up at Firhill in what turned out to be one of Queens' best performances of the season and certainly the best in the league to date. Not surprisingly, despite that, we still found a way not to win the game! We dominated and completely outplayed the, at that time, title challenging home side from start to finish. Thistle hadn't even forced a save out of Hinchcliffe when Jim Thomson finally headed home Warren Moon's free kick with seven minutes to go. Unfortunately Simon Donnelly's simply brilliant free kick three minutes later earned Thistle a point. Bizarrely in the post match press conference McCall claimed that the move from his preferred back three to a flat back four for the game came about "because the Chairman told me to", perhaps the first hint that all was not entirely well in the relationship. In the race at the bottom Airdrie also drew at Clyde but Ross County lost to Dundee so both teams closed the gap on them.
Hinchcliffe was as robust as needed
On the face of it, the following week's 1-1 draw at home to high-flying Hamilton should have been viewed as a decent result, especially given that we played almost half the match a man short due to Willie Gibson's bizarre and inexplicable sending off seemingly at the direct suggestion of Alex Neil! However, given that after O'Neill's penalty opened the scoring Accies only equalised through sub Richard Offiong with 15 minutes to go and that Airdrie astonishingly beat Gretna yet again it felt like a bad result. On a more positive note a collection held at the game to raise funds for Hamilton's Ross McCabe, forced to give up football after almost dying on the park in a game earlier in the season, raised £930, something for which the player himself and his club were extremely grateful.
Henderson, Lauchlan and Scally defend
In a strange move through the week Gretna confirmed that a number of senior players, most surprisingly including Steve Tosh, had been told they were free to find other clubs in the window. McCall immediately confirmed that he had opened discussion with both Tosh and Jamie McQuilken about a possible move to Queens.
The big head to head clash with Airdrie at Palmerston was next and Queens were looking to win to raise themselves off the bottom of the table again. For a long time it looked likely we would win thanks to Paul Lovering's own goal off the back of Paul Burns cross, however, Airdrie for the second time this season denied us victory with a last minute goal. This time it was Bryan Prunty who came to their rescue, seizing on a deflected pass to turn home their first ever goal at Palmerston and keep us bottom of the pile. Gretna's 1-0 win in Dingwall meant that both teams continued to narrow the gap to Ross County.
JT at his best
The following week before Xmas was full of news on player developments. Sadly though the most important story of all saw 16-year-old Ian Brown from Dalbeattie, a Junior Blue, killed in a car crash on the Sunday morning. The club sent condolences to his family and Ian McCall visited them personally. In that light nothing else seemed terribly important all week but McCall also confirmed this week that, as well as the already departed John Henry, Scott McKenzie would be leaving and Gareth Campbell and BJ Corr had been told they were free to go too. On the loan front Andrew Barrowman departed with his loan having reached its maximum three-month term allowed and Barry Callaghan's loan would not be renewed when it expired in mid January. As for the opposite direction, well, talks continued with both Tosh and McQuilken as well as with a striker from Newcastle United who was not named at that time, though McCall later revealed he was Carl Finnigan who ended up at Falkirk instead.
At least the end of the week brought some unexpected festive cheer as Queens won their first away game of the season 1-0 at Livingston thanks to of all things a Jim Thomson overhead kick! I've seen many strange things in my time watching Queen of the South but I never thought I'd see that! The goal would eventually be voted as Goal of the Season by the supporters club. With Ross County and Airdrie not playing each other until Boxing Day the win, which was well deserved, also lifted us out of the bottom two for the first time all season, though a few days later we did drop back to 9th when County defeated Airdrie.
JT pulls the trigger
If Xmas was good though the New Year was entered in a depressed fashion by Queens' supporters. Despite being on top for most of the game at Dingwall, we failed to trouble the goalkeeper at all and Ross County pinched a 1-0 win thanks to a looping header over Hinchcliffe by substitute Neal Hooks. With Airdrie emulating our win at Livingston we turned the year bottom of the table again and five points adrift of the vital 8th spot. There was some good news though as McCall confirmed after the game that verbal agreement had been reached with both Steve Tosh and Jamie McQuilken to join the club subject to a pay off being negotiated with Gretna. Neither would have any chance of being signed before the derby on January 2nd though.