|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 Nine - March||30th June 2007|
The trip to Gretna that opened the month was one approached with some trepidation. After all, despite recent signs of recovery, Gretna had beaten us heavily three times already and were beginning the run in to a third successive championship. A trip to Raydale Park was not a likely source of points and it showed in ticket sales as the increased allocation of nearly 700 tickets only just sold out the day before the game. We couldn't have been more wrong! Queens were consummate, passionate and always in control of the game. Stephen Dobbie broke the deadlock before half time, converting a big clearance from MacDonald and doubled the advantage early in the second half when Sean O'Connor seized on an error by Alan Main to set him up. For good measure Eric Paton's free kick was deflected past Main in the final minute and local bragging rights returned up the A75 along with the three points.
Drilled home at Raydale
Just to put the seal on a perfect day, Airdrie lost heavily at Hamilton, which meant we climbed off the bottom of the table for the first time since December 30th. Ross County grabbed a draw with St Johnstone but we still closed the gap on them to a single point too. News emerged post match that Queens had turned down an apparent £100,000 bid for the free scoring Dobbie from a Chinese side. The striker had now scored ten goals in his first nine games for the club since his move from St Johnstone so interest from elsewhere was not surprising.
Having put a dent in the title challenge of Gretna it was time to return the favour and put one in the challenge of their nearest rivals, St Johnstone. The meeting at Palmerston had been due for February but was postponed due to both teams playing in the Scottish Cup Quarter Finals. It proved to be an absolute cracker when played midweek in March though. Queens were in fine form early on and took the lead when Stevie Murray forced home inside the six yard box just before the interval. O'Connor should have added a second straight away but struck the post with Cuthbert beaten. In the second half Cuthbert made two good saves to deny Dobbie a goal against his former side but in the last quarter of the game the visitors really pushed for an equaliser and were denied only by two wonderful reaction blocks from Jamie MacDonald. The result meant we climbed out of the bottom two for only the second time all season.
Murray knocks it in the net, possibly the goal that kept us up and Saints down!
It was a very tired Queens side that took the field for what was bound to be a vitally important Palmerston match up with Ross County on the Saturday. Never the less, they raised themselves again and blew the Highlanders away with an early burst of quality. Two goals in the opening 12 minutes from O'Neill and Adams made sure the points were never going anywhere else although the performance never hit the highs of the previous three or four games. Elsewhere Airdrie defeated Livingston to move above County too and it appeared that Livingston and Partick Thistle were now legitimate targets too. So poor was their form that we now lay only four and three points respectively behind those two sides.
Adams (obscured behind the two defenders) slips the ball into the net
Andy Aitken finally made his playing comeback after eight long months of recovery in a reserve friendly against Glasgow University but ruled out for the rest of the season was Warren Moon with a groin problem. Having already decided that the player would not be staying for next season, McCall decided to simply release Moon immediately. There was some good news though when Jamie Adams, who had been selected to travel with the Scotland u20 side to Canada at the end of the month, opted out of the trip and declared himself available to face Clyde in a rearranged game at the end of the month.
The run of wins and clean sheets was bound to come to an end sooner or later. It ended in a disappointing 2-2 draw against Dundee which, though it was a poor performance all round, ended up feeling like a win and proved to be probably the most crucial point we earned all season. The contest wasn't helped at all by a strong wind that blew the whole game. Queens played against the wind in the first half and could barely clear their defence for much of it. Despite that Stevie Murray was on the end of a fine passing move to put us into a lead against the run of play. Jim Lauchlan had picked up a groin strain against Ross County and, with Aitken not quite ready yet, big Murray Henderson stepped back into the starting line up. Sadly the likeable big man didn't have his best day. He misjudged a big clearance in the wind and allowed Dryon Daal to strike a glorious equaliser before the break. Early in the second period he dallied on the ball again and this time Bob Davidson was the player who took advantage. The game looked to be gone to be honest but McCall threw bodies forward late on and in the final minute of the game Murray bent in a wicked cross and substitute Andrew Barrowman threw himself at it, powering a header home despite the combined attempts of keeper Roy and defender Dixon to get it away from the line. The big man had struggled to hit the net despite some battling performances in a Queens shirt so to finally do so in such dramatic circumstances was a joy to all, especially the player himself who jumped into the crowd to celebrate and was duly booked for it. I doubt he cared much!
Barrowman nets the last minute equaliser
Because of the free weekend for the Scotland v Georgia game Queens opted to rearrange the outstanding Clyde game for the Sunday and duly picked up a point from a 0-0 draw, our first of the season. It was a poor game and Clyde, who spectacularly struck the post in the first half, probably had the better of it but the unbeaten run was up to eight games now.
Before the final game of the month Queens announced the appointment of Colin Rutherford to the board of directors, bringing the number of incumbents up to six. However, there was worse news when it was confirmed that Colin Scott's most recent knee operation had not been a success and the keeper would be forced to retire from the game.
The 31st March saw a trip to face Clyde at Broadwood, never the happiest of hunting grounds for Queens. It was a resourceful performance though with McCall pulling a tactical masterstroke in deploying Andrew Barrowman as a wide midfielder to counteract the effectiveness of Dougie Imrie. We grabbed a vital three points when Robert Harris clattered into Dobbie in the penalty area midway through the second half and Dobbie duly banged home the resulting penalty.
So was it or wasn't it?
Defeat for Ross County and one for Airdrie the following day meant we finished the month of March in a comfortable 8th spot, six points clear of Ross County and seven clear of Airdrie United with all games even.