Too much of a good thing

GAME 17 – QUEEN OF THE SOUTH 1-1 LIVINGSTON

Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014 – 3pm
Venue:
 Palmerston Park, Dumfries

It’s been said that you can have too much of a good thing and this Saturday afternoon visit to Palmerston was a case in point.

The home of Queen of the South is one of my favourite grounds in Scotland. In my opinion it balances tradition and modernity better than anywhere else in the country.

Visiting supporters are accommodated in the relatively new East Stand which runs the full length of the pitch, a blue plastic seated, fairly bog standard construction that nevertheless offers a good view of the 4G artificial pitch.

It also boasts a good vantage point from which to appreciate the other three sides of the ground, all of which have been largely unaltered in all the time I’ve been travelling down the M74 to watch Meadowbank Thistle and Livingston.

The classic original main stand, has been spruced up here and there – it’s had new bucket seats added for instance – but crucially it retains it’s charm and character. The large Queen of the South FC sign at the rear of the paddock is timeless.

At either end there are sizeable terraces. The open Terregles Street end to the left was closed for some time before being partially brought back into service last season and is likely to open when the Championship big three of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers visit Queens this season.

The perimeter wall behind this terrace has recessed panels that contain paintings detailing the club history – another lovely feature.

At the opposite end, the Portland Street terrace might be the deepest standing area left in regular use at any Scottish ground (corrections welcome) and is a classic with its roof boasting a centrepiece clock.

Add all these elements together and Palmerston is a must visit, so what’s my problem?

Well, the last four competitive away games contested by Livingston have included three visits here. Our final away match of last season was at Palmerston, we were down on Challenge Cup duty in the opening match of this season, and Saturday was the first of two league visits.

Queens for their part have at least three visits to Almondvale this season after the clubs drew each other in the League Cup too.

The odds are against it, but it’s possible that they could meet a further four times to make a total of ten games, though this would involve a Scottish Cup tie (and replay) and the two legged play offs at the end of the season!

Six games is more than enough anyway and it’s this lack of variety that is encouraging me to look more selectively at the Livingston fixture list this season.

Over the few years in particular, I’ve missed relatively few Livi games but at the same time I have been able to go to a large number of other games to get a bit of variety and keep things fresh.

My changing family circumstances mean that’s less likely that I’ll be able to do that this season, so I’ll need to think about occasionally giving games a miss on Saturdays in order to visit new places, as I did a couple of weeks back when I watched Glasgow University play Cove Rangers.

One of the good things about matchdays down in Dumfries is the close proximity of Palmerston to the town centre and it’s wide selection of pubs. More often than not in recent visits, we’ve settled in at the Robert The Bruce ‘Spoons in Buccleuch Street, but this time round we gave The Caven Arms a try.

They’ve got a decent selection of ales and with beer bats on sale with three one-third pint glasses, I was able to sample six different brews in quick succession.

Bolstered by beer and fish n chips it was onwards to Palmerston for the football, and it turned out to be not a bad game, but equally not one that will live too long in the memory either.

Livi and Queens are two fairly evenly matched sides at the moment, and as so often happens, they cancelled each other.

As was the case in the recent 4-3 extra time win at Palmerston, Queens were the better side for most of the first hour and probably should have put the game out of reach. In the end, all they had to show for their spell of superiority was a one goal lead, and even that came from a Kyle Jacobs own goal which summed up a bad day for him.

Livi manager John McGlynn backtracked on two changes he had made to his starting line up by introducing Gary Glen and Danny Mullen at the half time break. Both have been regular starters in the early part of the season, and they perked things up in an attacking sense in the second half.

I mentioned Mullen in one of my pre-season blogs and I’ve been pleased to see him feature regularly in the side to date, though much like most other young players, he’s yet to find consistency.

The more experienced Glen is a player I’ve yet to warm to after his summer move from Ross County. He has an underwhelming scoring record as a striker and he has yet to break his duck in a Livi shirt. More of a provider than an out and out scorer, I’m not expecting him to weigh in with twenty goals a season, but he hasn’t really looked like scoring yet and that’s a worry.

To be fair, he was involved in the incident that earned Livi a deserved point in this game; he was steamrollered in the penalty area by Queens’ goalkeeper Zander Clark, who rushed out of goal, aimed a punch at the ball and ended up taking the man. It must have been a frustrating incident for Queens fans to witness because Clark had no need to make the challenge at all.

After referee Greg Aitken gave the penalty, Jordan White made a confident job of sticking away the spot kick to keep up his recent good form.

From then on in, we looked the more likely side to claim the win, and after James Fowler was sent off for a second booking, the home side were left to cling on for a point that, on balance, they deserved.

As I headed back up the road on the supporters bus, I wasn’t too unhappy with the outcome, or the day out as a whole, but I’ll be giving some thought to whether there’s a better option than a third visit of the season when Queen away it comes back round on the fixture list on January 3.

Classic floodlighting at Palmerston

Classic floodlighting at Palmerston

Always a warm welcome

Always a warm welcome

The Portland Street terrace - the traditional Queens home end

The Portland Street terrace – the traditional Queens home end

Palmerston's timeless main stand

Palmerston’s timeless main stand

 

Match Facts

Scoring: 1-0 Jacobs (og 34), 1-1 White (pen 66)

Attendance: 1805 (official)

Admission:  £16
Programme: £2.50

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