2002/03 Back in the First
A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at almost every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
Part Four - September
September began with the First Round CIS Cup tie against Forfar at Palmerston. Unfortunately for me the game was moved from the Tuesday night to the free Saturday beforehand and, as I was at a wedding that day, it proved to be the only game I missed all season. However, two John O'Neill goals, the first a penalty, earned a comfortable 2-0 win. At 1,158 the crowd, in opposition to live coverage of the Faroe Islands v Scotland game, was our lowest for six months. The second round draw would see us disappointingly drawn away to Dundee.

The first League game of the month was one of our most inept performances of the season as we meekly surrendered 3-1 at home to Inverness. The Highlanders were going well at that time and were challenging Falkirk for top spot but there can be no excuses for the slack defending which allowed them to score all three goals from unmarked headers, two by Wyness and one by Mann. They might have had a few more too but Weatherson struck a second half consolation to give the score a respectability it probably didn't deserve. Andy Goram was subbed at half time after being injured in a collision with his own Robbie Henderson and would miss the next couple of games.

Before the next game, off the field developments were that Palmerston was awarded its first Under 21 International, a Scotland v Ghana friendly set for the week before the Challenge Cup Final whilst Dumfries and Galloway Council approved the naming of two local streets as "Bradford Gardens" and "John Connolly Court" in recognition of the Championship success.

On the field though the bad luck continued with a 2-1 defeat back up at St Mirren. This time Shields again gave us an early lead but Cameron produced a quality equaliser before Peter Weatherson sliced into his own net with just six minutes left when trying to clear a corner. One bright spot though was that club Captain Jim Thomson finally made his long awaited return from injury as a substitute in this game.

On Monday the Challenge Cup Final tickets went on sale to season ticket holders after much controversy about the choice of venue and the method of ticket distribution. In the end though, Broadwood would prove more than big enough to host the game and Queens would end up returning over 1,000 tickets unsold.

The next day our CIS Cup campaign ended with a 3-1 defeat away at Dundee. More bad luck saw Colin Scott pull out of the game with an injury in the warm up and, with Goram still out injured as well, young Stuart Robertson made his full debut. The young 'keeper made a horror mistake to let Caballero tap in the second goal but otherwise had an outstanding game to keep the score down, though he could do nothing about Juan Sara's first and third. Weatherson scored a great goal from 25 yards at 2-0 down to keep things interesting.

A few days later though we failed to beat Arbroath at Palmerston in what was expected to be a vital game in the scheme of survival. We dominated throughout but could only draw 2-2, Derek Lyle scoring first and last. In between times Ross Currie, who had played as a trialist for us at Gala and Annan in the pre-season, scored with a shot which defected off another ex-Queens player, Craig Feroz, and Andy Cargill spectacularly beat Goram from halfway with a lob. Goram had returned early from injury with Scott unable to play and, to be fair, may not have been beaten by the long-range lob had he been fully mobile.

An Aitken header goes close

The month ended with Queens still second bottom and having taken just five points from eight games. We trailed Arbroath by a point but led Alloa only on goal difference.

Ewan Lithgow

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