It’s the International weekend and the only domestic games on in Scotland are the Ramsden’s Cup Semi Finals on the Sunday afternoon. So we’re on the road to Dumfries for Queen of the South v Arbroath, much to the annoyance of my other half!
The drive down was very pleasant in fine autumn conditions, ideal for football and achieved in an hour and a half and only one wrong turn made getting to the ground which wasn’t bad! We found a couple of streets at the back of the away end for parking which were literally a minute’s walk to the stadium and would also provide a quick get away at the end of the game.
As we headed round to the main stand for a look about, I could’ve been doing with a comfort break. Before I could look for any toilet facilities I got a call from my old man. It was his birthday and he was down at Heathrow Airport with is partner awaiting a connecting flight to Las Vegas. I’m sure he was exceptionally envious of our location!
We had plenty of time to have a look around having maybe slightly over estimated the journey time leaving us with a good 35 minutes to kill before kick off . Not wanting to sit on potential regulars seats we found a decent vantage point to sit, near the front of the main stand on the left hand side. We watched the warm up, read the match programme, familiarised ourselves with the players from both teams then opted to count the Arbroath fans in the sparsley populated away end!
As we were in the ground really early, it never really dawned on us that a very healthy crowd of just over 2,300 were in attendance. Both teams had already met at Palmerston earlier this season on league duty and the visitors left Dumfries with their tail between their legs following a 6-0 hiding. Arbroath reached the Semi Finals following victory over Stenhousemuir in the last round, with Queen of the South getting there after a penalty shoot out against 3rd Division side The Rangers in Glasgow.
The match got under way and Queens started the better of the two sides, having more of the possession and scoring chances. The opening goal was ominous and although scored by Derek Young for the home side it was with a lot of good fortune when his shot on 9 minutes from the edge of the box took a big deflection off a defender to wrong foot the keeper.
For all their pressure Queens should have capitalised on their lead but were unlucky with some of their finishing. Arbroath forced the home keeper, Robinson into a couple of saves and could have done better with a couple of half chances that they created.
Arbroath had Brian Kerr, formerly of Hibs and Motherwell in the centre of midfield along with a Frank Lampard lookalike wearing the number 8 shirt. Unfortunately for him, that’s where the similarities with the Chelsea star ended! They were completely over run in the middle of the park during the first half though they picked up in the second following the introduction of David Banjo for Colin Hamilton at half time.
I’m not sure if the home side felt that they were as good as in the Final as they gave away possession and surprisingly started the second half on the back foot. Arbroath had pinned them back a bit more and probably deserved the equaliser they got just before the hour mark. From a corner on the far side, big defender, Alex Keddie was pretty much unchallenged as he rose highest near the front post to head home. This opened the game right up and the play was quicker with both teams showing an enthusiasm to grab a winning goal.
Queen of the South made their first change of the afternoon bringing on forward, Derek Lyle for Dan Orsi. With what seemed like his first touch he had the ball in the net, only for it to be disallowed, possibly for offside but we were well placed and didn’t see much wrong with it. There were a couple of half chances for both teams towards the end and although we would’ve welcomed a winner for either side to prevent it going to extra time, this is ultimately how it turned out having finished 1-1 after 90 minutes.
It was then decision time for us, do we stay for the 30 minutes extra time plus possible penalties or do we head off up the road? My eldest lad and chief navigator for the day said we’d achieved our goal by visiting Palmerston and seeing the game so we left! Once we had made a bit of progress on the journey home and were able to get a decent internet connection we learned that Queen of the South’s centre half and Captain, Ryan McGuffie scored the winner in the 117th minute. They would be joined in the Final, which is to be played next April by Partick Thistle who defeated Cowdenbeath 1-0 at Central Park.
I quite enjoyed this visit and thought the game was decent with some good players on either side. There was some impressive individual skills, passing and control although equally some poor decision making and lack of composure on the ball. The pick of the bunch were maybe Carmichael for the home side and Sibanda for the visitors.
Palmerston itself is quite traditional and almost homely with a mixture of standing and seating areas. The main stand is old fashioned and takes up most of the one side but not the full length of the pitch. Opposite is a relatively new stand which houses both home and away fans with terracing behind both goals, though only one side is covered.
There is a friendly atmosphere in and around the ground and we felt very much like outsiders as prior to kick off and especially at half time everyone round about us seemed to know each other and on first names too! With regards to the Final, both Queen of the South and Partick Thistle are well supported clubs and are currently top of their respective leagues. The venue for the Final is scheduled for Livingston and would imagine it will draw sufficient interest to fill it to capacity, making for a great day out and hopefully a positive advert for the Scottish Football League. I wish them both well.