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 Eight - January
The month began with Robbie Neilson and Robbie Henderson formally returning to Hearts and Kilmarnock respectively, though Henderson would be released by Killie during the window and would sign on at Morton.

The New Year's Day "derby" saw an entertaining 1-1 draw at home to Ayr United. It was another game Queens dominated and should probably have won but chances weren't taken until Weatherson struck a fine goal in the second half. However, Stewart Kean quickly hit back after seizing on hesitancy by Andy Aitken. Derek Lyle fractured his cheekbone early in the game and, with O'Connor still out with the broken bone in his foot, we suddenly had a shortage of strikers.

January though proved to be a frustrating month for postponements with the next two fixtures at home to Inverness and away to St Mirren also falling victim to frozen pitches. In between times another Championship hero departed the club with Jon Crawford being swapped with Stranraer for Steven Renicks, a left back with a view to replacing Neilson. Paul Shields also returned to Celtic without playing again. Like Henderson he too would be released shortly after returning and he would sign for Clyde for the rest of the season. We were also drawn at home to Aberdeen in the 3rd Round of the Scottish Cup, a tie for everybody to look forward to.

Queens finally got back to action with a hugely entertaining 3-3 draw at Alloa. We were missing flu victim Andy Goram and Colin Scott had a poor game in his first outing in months. We held the lead three times in the game through O'Neill (now playing as a forward) and Weatherson twice. Peter's second goal in this game was selected as the Goal of the Month on Scotsport. However, two penalties from Andy Seaton and a Steven Thomson header pulled them deservedly level. There didn't seem too much doubt about the two penalty decisions either, the first given for a pull back of Ryan Davidson by Anderson and the second for a trip on Ross Hamilton by Aitken.

The final game of the month saw that Scottish Cup tie played against Aberdeen in front of a sell-out home crowd, though the Dons returned about 700 tickets. It finished goal-less though it was a game we might well have won, a fact quickly acknowledged by new Aberdeen manager Steve Paterson afterwards. Sean O'Connor missed a great chance after coming on as sub near the end after a bad touch whilst Weatherson nearly snatched all the headlines with a glorious swerving effort from 30 yards which pulled a magnificent save out of David Preece. John O'Neill had to leave the field several times after cutting his head badly in the first half and would receive seven stitches during the game. The match was Andy Goram's 750th senior club appearance. It also turned out to be his last for the club after he broke a bone in his hand in training shortly afterward and did not return to full fitness until the season was ending. By then a decision had already been made to go with Colin Scott for the rest of the season and next.

Bowser put in yet another great shift

In the week before the Aberdeen game Honorary Director's Allan Ball's son, also Allan, was tragically found dead at his work following an accident.

The month ended with Queens still in the Scottish Cup and still 6th in the League also, albeit now ahead of St Mirren only on goal difference. It also ended with the departure of another of the Championship squad with Barry Donald slipping out to Dumbarton so quietly that many people didn't notice he was away for some time. Barry had some terrible luck with injuries during his time with us and can only hope it works out better for him with the Sons of the Rock.

Ewan Lithgow
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