Aug 3 2012 by Andrew Burns, Dumfries Standard Friday
ALLAN Johnston is hoping to follow the successful path of fellow rookie manager Paul Hartley.
Queens play their first home game of the season tomorrow with Hartley’s high-flying Alloa Athletic coming to town in the League Cup first round.
The former Celtic, Hearts and Scotland star led the Wasps to the Scottish Third Division title last season in his first year in charge.
And Palmerston boss Johnston admits that Hartley’s success has acted as inspiration for his own debut season dream.
He said: “What Paul has achieved with Alloa is unbelievable.
“He has already built such a strong side and I have a huge respect for what he has done in such a short space of time at Alloa.
“He built a quality side to play attractive football and achieved success in his first season in charge and that is exactly what I want to do.”
Hartley’s team travel to Palmerston on the back of a very successful campaign, romping to the third division title.
The Recreation Park side finished top of the pile by a massive 13 points and have strengthened further this summer, bringing in former Annan Athletic forward David Cox and ex-Motherwell striker Martin Grehan.
And one familiar face that could make a return to Palmerston this weekend is last season’s Queens captain Stephen Simmons, who joined Alloa last month.
Johnston is expecting a close contest between the two second division teams but is unsure whether Willie Gibson will feature after injuring his shoulder last weekend.
He said: “Alloa have managed to keep almost all of the players from last season and that will be a huge boost for them.
“They have also strengthened well and will prove a real handful for anyone they face this season.
“I am expecting a very tough game and we need to make sure that we keep possession of the ball.
“They are very strong through the middle and we can’t be giving the ball away cheaply.
“We played very well at Dumbarton and created chance after chance against a very good side and I want to see the same again.
“I’m not sure whether Willie will be able to play yet as he wasn’t able to train earlier this week.
“He suffered a really painful shoulder injury when he landed awkwardly in a challenge at Dumbarton and had to come off.
“It’s still causing him pain but we will just need to wait and see how things are coming Friday in training.”
Johnston also revealed that contract offers have been made to a number of Queens’ recent trialists and says he is hopeful of adding to his squad before the Alloa game.
Derek Young and Derek Lyle both featured as trialists in last weekend’s Ramsdens Cup win while former Hearts youth star David Hopkirk was part of the squad for the game.
Trialist Scott Milligan was back in training with Johnston’s team this weekend but has been playing with parent club Dalbeattie Star and scored two goals at the weekend.
Johnston said: “Offers have been made and we still hopeful of tying up things before Saturday.
“It’s a waiting game now until these players come back to us with a decision.”
The manager has also called on supporters to prove the difference at Palmerston this season.
“The Queens fans have always been brilliant and that makes a big difference to any team,” he said.
“I hope they get behind us this season and I also hope that they enjoy the football of football that we are hoping to play.
“At the end of the day, it is important that everyone is pulling in the same direction if we want to achieve something this season and the fans can play a vital role in that.”
l Entry into Saturday’s League Cup clash against Alloa Athletic at Palmerston (3pm kick off) has been specially priced at £12 for adults and £5 for all concessions.