|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 Eight - February||23rd June 2007|
The dramatic victory over Dundee had presented us with a real opportunity to make the last eight of the Scottish Cup for the first time in 30 years with only second division Cowdenbeath standing between us and that stage and at Palmerston to boot. The match actually only just survived the winter mists and even needed the introduction of a yellow ball in the second half but Queens did enough to advance with comfort. Cowdenbeath started quite brightly but failed to trouble Jamie MacDonald all day. Midway through the first half Jamie Adams was tripped in the area by Gary Fusco and Stephen Dobbie duly despatched the spot kick. The game was clinched in the second period when Adams himself got on the end of a Tosh cross to tap home. All that remained was for Tosh to miss an absolute sitter, hitting the post when it was easier to score after seizing on a short back header. Just to put the icing on the day's cake, Airdrie lost their outstanding game at home to Dundee, which meant we now had a game in hand.
Adams celebrates his strike
The following day the draw paired us with Hibernian at Palmerston, which was potentially as hard a draw as we could have gotten outside of Celtic. Disappointingly, with Sky having taken the obvious opportunity of covering Celtic's fixture at Inverness for live coverage, the BBC elected to go with Motherwell v St Johnstone despite some intensive lobbying of his alternate employers by McCall.
Meantime the club AGM at the Nith Hotel was a fairly boisterous occasion, particularly when former chairman Norman Blount took centre stage and suggested the club should actively court Gretna with a view to ground sharing if they gain promotion to the SPL (which of course they eventually did).
On Saturday Queens faced a difficult away trip to Hamilton, where few would win all season and grabbed a potentially vital point, twice coming from behind to earn a 2-2 draw. Stevie Tosh tripped Gilhaney to give away an early penalty, duly converted by Tony Stevenson but three minutes later the same player set up Adams for an equaliser. Accies went back in front when Winters cleverly flicked home Offiong's cross and looked likely to hold on until midway through the second half when Dobbie charged down a clearance and then lobbed the keeper from a wide left position. Both Airdrie and Ross County achieved draws on the day too though so nothing changed at the bottom.
Saturday 17th of March was the day for me that the charge really started towards safety. We travelled to face Airdrie at New Broomfield in what was an absolutely vital match. We certainly couldn't afford to lose it and really needed to win it. We did so at an absolute canter though the match was a personal nightmare for Airdrie's centre half Neil McGowan. Queens grabbed an early lead when Dobbie converted a penalty awarded for a clumsy foul on Sean O'Connor by McGowan and doubled it before the interval courtesy of Dobbie's 25 yard deflected shot off who else but McGowan. The match was over as a contest early in the second half when McGowan compounded his misery by getting sent off for an aggressive challenge on Stevie Tosh, though the defender was a little unlucky and would later succeed in an appeal to have the card rescinded. For Tosh unfortunately the consequences weren't so good. Although his injury wasn't the season ending one it was initially feared, it did continue to trouble him for the rest of the season and we never really saw the best of him after that. In any event, the result was thoroughly put beyond doubt when Sean O'Connor nodded home Willie Gibson's cross. Ross County's defeat at Gretna made it a very good day indeed.
The following week was all about the build up to the big Hibernian cup tie but McCall took time out on the eve of the game to tie up Sean O'Connor to a new two year deal as reward for his recent exploits. The early move to secure the services of the big striker had been prompted by suggestions in the press that Livingston were interested in him.
So often over recent years Queens have filled Palmerston for a big game and then played like donkeys, so disappointing the floating fans. A notable example indeed would be when McCall brought his struggling Dundee United side to Palmerston two years earlier and they turned us over very easily indeed. Not this time. Hibs expected a tough game and they sure got one. The game saw a crowd of over 6,000, live coverage on BBC national radio and was the main feature on the BBC's Sportscene highlight show at night but no-one could dispute we didn't do ourselves proud. We matched Hibernian for 45 minutes only to lose a 30 yard howitzer to full back David Murphy in injury time. That was a heartbreaking blow but rather than buckle the team charged right back into the game at the opening of the second period. Three minutes in John O'Neill powered in a header from a McQuilken cross and Palmerston unleashed its biggest roar in many a year. Sadly the level status didn't last too long. Only a further three minutes had elapsed when Benjaloun's hanging cross looped into the penalty area, Jamie MacDonald lost his footing in going for it and substitute Thomas Sowumni bundled the ball home for what turned out to be the winning goal. We got so so close to a money spinning replay though as keeper Simon Brown reacted remarkably to fingertip away Barrowman's late shot and Jamie Adams could only turn the rebound from a tight angle right across the face of goal rather than into the net.
Palmerston was bursting at the seams
John O'Neill heads past Brown..........
Whilst we were failing gloriously against Hibs, Ross County lost their league game to Livingston and missed the chance to move clear of us again so we finished the month of February still bottom of the pile but just a point adrift of Airdrie United and three behind Ross County with a game in hand over both.