|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 Seven - January||16th June 2007|
Last ditch attempts to persuade Craig Hinchcliffe to either extent his loan or enter a permanent deal with Queens failed so it was back to Colin Scott in goal against Gretna to open 2007 whilst Michael Mullen, who had fallen well down the pecking order lately, was allowed to join Stranraer on loan for the rest of the season, though McCall was keen to stress he was not doing so with a view to letting the boy go permanently. This was also the beginning of the protracted negotiations for Willie Gibson's move to Kilmarnock with McCall confirming that the club had agreed to let him go but that some negotiation was needed on the actual deal yet.
On the pitch meantime the first all-ticket league game at Palmerston in God knows how long ended in the usual heavy defeat to Gretna. This time it was 4-0 with goals from McMenamin, Skelton (2) and Townsley.
Willie was wanted by Killie
The next few days were alive with player movement as two big signings came in. One was the expected signing of Jamie McQuilken but the other was the surprising and ultimately crucial signing of Stephen Dobbie from St Johnstone. The striker had been out of favour in Perth but had hit 11 goals in half a season on loan at Dumbarton so was seen as a good option by a number of sides. Moving in the other direction, Lewis Sloan was set to join Annan Athletic on loan whilst Gareth Campbell had now departed the club. The proposed move of Willie Gibson to Kilmarnock was off again for now as Andrew Barrowman and Stevie Murray, who were both to be part of the deal, had rejected the chance to join Queens for the time being.
On the Saturday Queens produced a battling performance to stay in the Scottish Cup despite a tricky tie at Dens Park. Derek Lyle's diving header gave the home side a late first half lead but Sean O'Connor scored a glorious volley in first half injury time to level things up and despite several chances at either end that's how it stayed to set up a Palmerston replay. Unfortunately, with Sky TV money set to roll in for live coverage of the replay, Aberdeen's last minute equaliser in their midweek tie with Hibernian snatched it away again. Not surprisingly with an all -SPL tie available to pick up we were out in the cold again.
Before the next weekend it emerged that Stephen Swift had asked away from Queens for personal reasons whilst Warren Moon had signed an extension of his contract through to the end of the season. Lewis Sloan meanwhile had his loan move to Annan delayed a week to allow him to sit on the bench at Dens and fulfil the u21 rules but eventually completed it this week. The weekend's game with Clyde though fell victim to the weather.
On the Monday McCall confirmed to the website that he had turned down an opportunity to sign Derek Townsley from Gretna and that Colin Scott had been booked for a knee operation but would play against Dundee in the cup replay before having it. Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and men don't always work out that way and Scott pulled out of the Dundee game in warm up after aggravating the injury. He never played for the club again and his swansong proved to be that first game at Dens, which he limped through heroically.
Sometimes though football throws up the unlikeliest of heroes and with no-one else left to turn to McCall was forced to put his faith in the man he'd told he could leave the club. Barry John Corr was now the only senior goalkeeper at the club and ran out to face Dundee on ten minutes notice and with a point to prove. Boy did he prove it and what a game it turned out to be.
'Hold me back Murray' !!!
With Mark Whorlow also injured but named on the bench anyway to satisfy the u21 rules of the Scottish Cup we effectively only had three subs on the bench. It mattered not. We led the game three times through Dobbie twice and then O'Connor but were pegged back each time by Lyle, Deasley and then that man Lyle again two minutes from time. In extra time we threw everything at Dundee and hit the woodwork twice and had two cleared off the line but we couldn't get that 4th goal. Indeed only a stunning late save from Corr kept us in the game as he denied McDonald on the break. And so it went to penalties. Paul Burns scored first but Dundee levelled and when Eric Paton missed the second kick it all looked bleak for us. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Corr sprang like a cat to beat away Dundee's next two kicks including a stunning stop from Lyle. Jim Thomson, Willie Gibson and Neil Scally all converted their kicks and Queens were through to the 4th round. For the under-pressure Corr it was just too much at once and he let it all go in a torrent of abuse at fans behind the goal. He was eventually dragged away by Murray Henderson but still hadn't calmed down by the time he spoke to the press afterward, letting go with a diatribe of criticism of the treatment he had received from the fans in his time here. It was in effect also a thinly veiled go at his manager.
In one of those little idiosyncrasies that football fixture lists throw up from time to time needless to say our next league game was a return to Dundee. The home side were able to freshen their side up more from the cup tie than we were and a clearly tired looking Queens side went down 1-0 to a second half header from that man Derek Lyle yet again. With no other senior keeper on the books, the 15 year old Ross Hyslop sat on the bench for this game and in doing so set a new record for the youngest Queens player ever to feature in a senior squad. We weren't to know it at the time but that defeat at Dens on January 20th proved to be our last league defeat until the final fortnight of the season as a 12 game unbeaten charge brought with it eventual safety.
Young Ross sets the record. Photo - David Young - www.dundeefc.co.uk
There was frantic activity at the end of the transfer window though as before the visit of Partick Thistle, Andy Thomson departed to join Stenhousemuir and Hearts' Scotland u21 goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald joined up for the rest of the season. Des McCaffrey's loan deal from Hibernian expired and he returned there. The on/off deal for Willie Gibson was finally completed with Queens receiving a small amount of cash but more crucially the services of Jamie Adams and Stevie Murray on loan for the rest of the season free of charge, the services of Gibson himself back on loan until the Scottish Cup campaign was over (because Murray was cup-tied) and, ultimately, though it took a few more days to sort out, the services of Andrew Barrowman for the rest of the season also.
MacDonald, Adams and Murray all made their debuts against Thistle on the Saturday and what a game that was. Queens were absolutely superb in the opening 83 minutes and should have been much further in front than the 4-0 we were up courtesy of goals from O'Connor, Lauchlan, Dobbie and then Dobbie again from the penalty spot after Lauchlan was shoved in the box. McChrystal bundled home a goal for Thistle with 7 minutes to go and started off a remarkable spell of football that saw Roberts score a soft penalty before Keogh forced home a third. In the final minute young MacDonald had to make a wonderful reaction save just to preserve the win but 4-3 it did finish.
Dobbie is congratulated for his penalty strike
Disappointingly Airdrie won and County drew though so we finished the month of January still bottom of the table, four points adrift of Airdrie and six behind County. Before the window slammed shut for good Stephen Swift returned to the juniors with Irvine Meadow and the protracted transfer saga of Steve Tosh finally reached a conclusion when he signed a two and a half year deal, in so doing disappointing a number of bigger clubs who wanted to sign him.