The optimism that came with the New Year was short lived. A 3-3 draw with Hamilton and a 5-0 cup win against Cove Rangers was the end of a six game unbeaten run before a six game reverse tested our mettle.
We lost 6-0 at Tynecastle with a weakened team. Lasley and Grimshaw were midfield absentees and the resultant shuffle opened us up to a heavy defeat. The curse of ‘late goal syndrome’ reared its ugly head as we endured a LLDLLL sequence that included a Scottish Cup exit to Inverness. There was to be no 25th anniversary of the 1991 triumph but the club organised a range of events to mark the moment.
The turning point came in a Tuesday night match at Tannadice. It was billed as a relegation decider, 12th v 11th, and our convincing 3-0 win doomed United and let us look forward.
We contrived to throw the next game with another late concession in Perth but then came five wins against Partick Thistle, Hamilton, Dundee United, Aberdeen and Inverness (on this occasion we won the match with a wonderful added time breakaway goal from Johnson). A top half finish and safety was assured. Wins over Hearts and Ross County in the post-split section made certain of a fifth place finish.
The manager and players enjoy the win at Inverness with the fans
The achievement would have been happily accepted if offered in August. It was the first season since 1999/2000 that we had beaten all of our rivals during the season.
In March Derek Weir stepped down from the club board and in an announcement that surprised many we discovered that Les and the Society had reached an understanding that would lead to complete fan ownership “in a matter of weeks”.
In contrast to the fortunes of the ‘big’ team in cup competitions the U20s did us proud. At the end of April they met Hearts at Hampden and after a great performance Craigan’s youngsters lifted the SFA Youth Cup. The promise of young talent in the pipeline should do us well in the years to come.