Saturday sees Rovers make the trip down to Dumfries to face Queen of the South in their first away fixture on league duty. The Doonhamers have struggled in the form with the club failing to register a win at Palmerston in 2020 (admittedly, there's been a pandemic which hasn't helped). They last picked up three points back in December 2019 against Ayr United. Allan Johnston, who is in his second spell at the helm, oversaw a major overhaul of the squad with ten players departing and fifteen players coming in. Notable signings include Aidan Fitzpatrick (on loan from Norwich) and Connor Shields (previously of Albion Rovers and Sunderland). Gregor Buchanan and Joe McKee will be familiar faces having features for Falkirk and Dumbarton respectively.
'Magic' has also delved into the lower reaches of the SPFL bringing in young talents Euan East and Calvin McGrory from Albion Rovers and Queens Park. The club have also recruited from the English sixth tier adding Nortei Nortey and Ayo Obileye. Obileye will be a familar face for Rovers signing Gozie Ugwu with both players turning out for Ebbsfleet United last season.
Only club legend Stephen Dobbie has survived since the clubs last met in 2018/19 promotion playoffs where Queens dismantled Rovers at Stark's Park. Another player from that squad has still made a significant contribution to the Palmerston club this season: Lyndon Dyke's transfer from Livingston on to Queens Park Rangers netted the Dumfries club a six figure sum following impressive displays at Almondvale (notably the humiliation of multi-million pound Celtic defender Christopher Jullien) . It's been an incredible journey for the Australian born forward who went from saving Queens to completely changing the dynamic of the national team.
Queens opened the season away Ayr United and lost 2-1 with former Rover Michael Miller scoring two goals following some questionable defending at corners. Raith aren't a team with much notoriety for attacking corners so it will be interesting to see how things play out.
In the run up to the fixture, we contacted 19QOS19 from pieandbovril to ask a few questions prior to Saturday's game to ask a few questions about our opponents
What's your earliest memory of a game at Palmerston? My earliest memories of Palmerston are of Tommy Bryce scoring goals by rounding the goalkeeper. He may have only done it a couple of times but for some reason it stuck with me. Another early memory was of a player being substituted and handing over his shinguards to the player replacing him. I suspect we had very little money back then. That would have been around the mid to late 90's.
Queens started their Betfred cup group with three draws: what are fans hopes for the season ahead and have expectations changed with the performances you've seen? With Queens Park recruiting really well and our poor performances in previous seasons in this competition I think it would be fair to say a lot of our support wouldn't have been shocked to see us finish last in the group. 3 draws is more than I expected us to get before we faced Queens Park so I think we've done better than expected. Before I saw the side play in these games I thought we would be battling for 9th spot next season, as would a lot of our own and other supporters. We've performed well in these games though and should really have beaten the Premiership opposition. After seeing us in these games I'm quietly confident of avoiding 9th or 10th. If we avoid injuries and the new side continues to gel then I don't see why midtable isn't realistic. Lyndon Dykes has been grabbing the goals and headlines for Scotland and your club recently benefitted from a significant sell on fee with his move to QPR. Are you surprised to see him in the national team and how important is the sell on fee for the club in such an unstable time?
I don't think we've ever had a player that has divided our support so much. If you had asked this question after his first couple of seasons with us I'd have laughed at an International call up suggestion. But in his last season I started to see what all his previous fans were seeing. His technical ability and hold up play just seemed to rocket in his final season with us. He was a joy to watch alongside Dobbie. When he left us I still didn't think International quality though as he wasn't a major goal threat for us. Having found his shooting boots at Livi then I think it was only a matter of time before he got the call. He's the finished article now and I think his time at QPR will only help him continue to improve and I expect he'll got for a lot more money in the not too distant future. The money QoS received for him will obviously be massive. In normal circumstances we'd be hoping for a couple of big signings with the windfall but having it there to see us through the pandemic is a blessing and far more important than more signings. Queens have had a significant turnover in their squad over the summer with 15 new signings. Do you feel that you're in a better position compared to last season?
It's always a massive task for a manager to rebuild an almost entirely new team, even more so in these times but I think it came at a good time from the performance side of things. Last season was really poor by the end and there weren't too many players leaving who I was sad to see go. I think if the season had ended properly then we'd likely have been relegated. So with new faces coming in my thinking was, we were going down last season, can it get much worse? The signs so far look promising. The manager has brought in some players looking to kick on in their career as well as some who are unknown at this level. I think we are in a better position player wise than we were at the end of last season. Stephen Dobbie is obviously synonymous with Queens and recently said he might try to play on until he's 40. What's your favourite moment from his time with your club?
I really can't pick one moment. The guy just oozes class both on and off the pitch and it's been an absolute honour watching him play in both spells. In his first spell I remember him scoring scoring a double against our bitter rivals Gretna. The victory itself was excellent but the way Dobbie tore them apart made it all the more sweeter. His goal against Dundee was a goal of sheer quality and significance. He made it look so easy, as he does with a lot of his goals and it sent us on our way to Hampden. It was obviously forgotten about because of the 84 yard goal but it was a thing of beauty. The one moment to some up Dobbie's quality though would have to be away to Morton in his first spell. For some reason he was on the bench for the game and I'll always remember the disappointment among the fans as that was announced at the ground. 64 minutes in it's 0-0 and Dobbie is brought on to a massive cheer from the crowd, both in relief and almost sarcastically and doesn't take long to show why him being in the bench was such a ridiculous decision. Within a minute he has put us 1-0 up and our wee section erupts. He then goes on to get another two and complete a perfect hat-trick. Sheer quality. In recent times the season where he netted over 40 goals clearly takes it. Just an incredible player. To see him go past players was a joy to watch even if it didn't always work out. Never in my time have I witnessed a QoS player being applauded by so many opposition supports after he has torn them to pieces. I think even other supports knew they were witnessing a class of player way above that level and were just enjoying it even if it was at the expense of their side. For him to come back to us when he could have continued at a much higher level for a couple of more years is one more reason why the fans love him so much.
Who do you feel is the most underrated player in your squad?
It's early days just now so it's hard to say. Not being able to attend games makes it a bit tricky just now as well as you can't hear the grumblings from the rest of the support. If I had to pick this early I think Willie Gibson might be a shout. When he signed again a lot of the QoS support weren't impressed and other supporters found it amusing. Up until now though he has been one of our best performers. Not only that but he's filled in at RB, LM and LB. He's an older head with bags of experience and looks like he could be our utility player this season.
What are your best and worst memories of games against Raith? I have two memories of games against Raith. The first was Alex Williams's debut for us at Starks. He came off the bench and almost instantly played a lovely back heel to set up Derek Lyle for the winning goal. It was my first visit to Starks and is was made all the sweeter with a win and great goal. The best memory would have to be the play-off victory a couple of seasons ago. It was a massive game for us and I think if we hadn't won at Starks I wouldn't have had that much confidence of staying up. Nesbit was firing on all cylinders which gave me the fear with our defence and I'm sure Dobbie wasn't 100% at the time. Thankfully for us the Raith side seemed to focus on Dobbie and gave Dykes free reign. He put in an incredible shift and helped us to a comfortable win. I think it took the wind out of Raith as the next game kind of fizzled out over 90 minutes. The worst one against Raith was 2016. A mid week game up in Kirkcaldy on a freezing cold October night. To make it all the colder we were housed in the main stand where, as you'll know it's concrete rather than plastic seats. It was a game we had a lot of chances where we should have got at least one goal. Raith offered nothing for the entire match until the last kick of the game where a cross met Mark Stewart who buried it. It made the long trip home even longer that night.
How to watch:
Saturday's game will be available to fans on the QOS TV.
The "admission" is £10 and registration is straightforward. Payment can be made via Paypal and all you is your email where they send a password.
Much like Raith TV, Queens have opted against using Pixelot cameras for their games and have instead decided to continue to user a Cameraman.