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 Five - October
The month began with a workmanlike single goal victory at Brechin. Sean O'Connor grabbed the only goal with a looping second half header from McAlpine's cross and, though it was far from a good performance, it was enough to move the club up to second in the league after Ross County were held to a draw at Clyde. That meant that when the division got back to action after the international break we would face Inverness in a Palmerston head to head for the top of the table spot. In the meantime, a successful first club golf day raises over 2,000 in aid of youth development as the Dumfries Mortgage and Property Shop team win on the day in the company of Willie Gibson.

Top golfer
The 18th October was a momentous day in John Connolly's Queen of the South management career. We defeated Inverness CT 3-2 at Palmerston to go top of the Scottish Football League for the first time since 1953. Alright, in 1953 top meant top in Scotland whereas now there is a 12 team SPL ahead but until the ground rules are changed top of the SFL is all a club like Queens can possibly aspire to. That we got there just over 3 years after we should have dropped into the Third Division and up against 8 full-time teams is a testimony to the levels that John Connolly moved the club onto. The crowds too just continued up and up. Over 3,500 showed up to see the dream achieved, one Hell of a crowd when you consider virtually nobody travelled from Inverness and that was virtually all home fans. Not bad when you think that a decade ago anything towards four figures was a great crowd.

On the pitch the game was tight through the opening half but Paul Ritchie opened the scoring early in the second half with a shot that deflected past Colin Scott off Jim Thomson. However, the attitude on the pitch was such that rather than feeling sorry for themselves the team dug in and ground their way back into the match with David Bagan striking a glorious volley into the bottom left corner to equalise against his former club. The strike would later be voted "Goal of the Season". A Sean O'Connor double then put Queens out of sight before David Bingham's late consolation gave the score some respectability it probably didn't deserve.

Before the next match it was announced that Brian Reid's performances had been enough to earn him a contract extension to the end of the season already. However, the good run of results came to an end in a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Dingwall, Sean Webb heading the only goal after an untracked run onto the end of John Rankin's free kick. With Inverness inactive due to their Challenge Cup Final appearance though we remained in top spot.

Two-goal O'Connor threatens Brown in the Caley goal.
In midweek an incredible 1,600 or so Queens fans turned up at Easter Road to see the club bow out of the CIS Cup by a 2-1 score. The score gives an unfair reflection that Queens were very much in the tie but the truth was Hibernian were a far better side on the night and quickly established a two goal lead through Derek Riordan. We could easily have lost further goals before substitute Gary Wood earned a last minute penalty that saw his opponent Colin Murdock sent off too. Alex Burke duly despatched the kick but we didn't have time to even look like we might equalise. A fairly high number of Queens fans missed the opening goal and some even missed the first two goals after chaos at the away end turnstiles. The aftermath of this would see the two clubs blaming each other for the situation over the next week or so.
October finished with Queens out of the CIS Cup and in top spot in the league with 19 points from 10 games, albeit ICT had a game in hand and trailed by just 2 points (though they were 4th in the table so tight were things).

Ewan Lithgow
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