|2003/04 Season Review
||A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at almost every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
|Part Four - September|
The month began with a midweek trip to second division Stenhousemuir in the CIS Cup first round. This was the other match I missed this season as I was abroad on business but by all accounts it was a showing almost as poor as the Stranraer one. The difference was that this time we managed to win anyway. Gary Wood scored his first goal for the club very early but Martin Harty equalised. However, David Bagan's winner two minutes from time, also his debut goal, sent us into the second round where, for the first time in club history I think, we were seeded in the top sixteen thanks to Inverness' shock defeat at home to Queen's Park. The draw would not be kind though as we found ourselves drawn to travel to 17th ranked Ross County midweek.
Wood got his first
A home win against Raith Rovers on the Saturday might even have brought with it the top spot in the division but it wasn't to be as Raith and John Sutton in particular staged a smash and grab act to take all three points. Queens were certainly not at their best but never-the-less goalkeeper Ramiro Gonzalez was in fine form and held the forwards at bay whilst Sutton scored both goals in Raith's 2-0 win. Showing the poorer side of his game though, Gonzalez was also seen to simulate an injury in an attempt to get an entirely innocent Joe McAlpine sent off. The incident was the subject of lengthy debate on Scotsport the next day and on websites for the rest of the season.
However, the team bounced back a week later with a fine win at Paisley. Alex Burke was restored to the starting line-up and made the first goal for O'Connor before scoring the second himself from a McAlpine cross. Although Ricky Gillies pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in first half injury time we never looked like losing the game, particularly after Mark Crilly was sent off midway through the second period. The match was also notable though for Derek Lyle rupturing ankle ligaments and breaking his collar bone in an innocuous looking first half incident which all but ended his spell at Palmerston ultimately. Incredibly at full-time Queens sat only one point from the top of the division and yet still in the bottom half of the table so tight was it!
The following midweek the club gambled on arranging time off for the players and taking them away for an overnight stay prior to the CIS Cup tie at Dingwall and it paid off big time with a consummate performance and a comfortable win. Alex Burke continued his rich vein of form with two first half goals and Paul Burns deflected cross early in the second period clinched a 3-0 win. This time the draw was a better one and we would travel to Edinburgh to face Hibernian. Around this time it was also announced that physio Kenny Crichton was joining the club in a full-time capacity as "Business Development Manager".
Paton strikes the ball home from a free kick.
The month finished with a magnificent 4-1 home win over Clyde. Eric Paton struck a direct free kick early on and Sean O'Connor doubled the lead after fine work by Burke. However, Stephen McConologue struck back almost immediately with a rasping drive from the edge of the box. In the second half Clyde tried hard for an equaliser but the very sharp Alex Burke seized on goalkeeping and defensive errors to twice add goals and kill off the challenge of the visitors.
Queens finished the month in 3rd spot on 13 points from 7 games and trailing only the two Highland sides and by just a point at that. Quite a turnaround from the team that opened the season with a lame showing at Stranraer followed by a hammering at St Johnstone.
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