Queen of the South demonstrated their credentials as league leaders as they dismantled Ayr United at Somerset Park, winning 5-1.
The home side opened the scoring through David Winters` header before Queens equalised with a Ryan McStay own goal. Nicky Clark then gave the Doonhamers the lead before Dan Carmichael scored the pick of the bunch as he ran from his own half to then find the top corner from the edge of the box. Carmichael added a second before Derek Lyle beat Ally Brown from 25 yards on 71 minutes.
The match began slowly with both teams coming to terms with the strong wind blowing from one end of the pitch to the other and chances were few and far between.
The away side probably edged the first half but created few chances. A long shot from Dan Carmichael and a couple of set-pieces were all the Doonhamers could muster before Ayr opened the scoring after 29 minutes.
There had been no real warning for the Queens defence as the home team had struggled to put any potent attacking move together. They did so, though, as Robbie Crawford got past his marker on the right wing and found David Winters free at the back post to head past a helpless Lee Robinson.
Ayr were not able to settle on their lead however as Queens hit back immediately from yet another Chris Mitchell delivery. His quality from set-plays has been a real asset for Queens this season and it turned out that way again as his cross from the right was missed by everyone before hitting Ayr`s Ryan McStay and bobbling inside the post.
Three minutes separated the goals and Ayr almost made it 2-1 just two minutes later as the Queens defence struggled to clear a David Sinclair free-kick from wide and the ball fell to Winters who sent his shot just over the crossbar.
The match settled down again after this brief flurry of action until Queens took the lead after 42 minutes. Dan Carmichael pushed his full-back backwards before laying the ball to Chris Mitchell whose cross was diverted into the bottom by Nicky Clark`s stooping header. It was an excellent finish and was Clark`s fifth goal in three games.
The second half began in spectacular fashion as Dan Carmichael picked the ball up inside his own half as Queens broke on the counter-attack. The winger beat two defenders and cut inside on his left foot before lashing an effort into the far top corner giving the goalkeeper absolutely no chance.
The Queens fans were in full voice as the Ayr players were beginning to look resigned to their fate and they fell further behind as Carmichael scored his second of the afternoon and third of the season. It was something of a gift as Ayr goalkeeper Ally Brown left the safety of his goal area to beat Nicky Clark to the ball but then lost it as he made a second challenge. The ball found its way to Ryan McGuffie on the right wing with the goalkeeper stranded and the full-back fed the ball into the box for Carmichael to find the net with Ayr`s Austin McCann unable to keep it out. It was a bizarre moment as the goalkeeper lost the ball forty yards from his goal and Queens made him pay for his rash decision.
The scoring was not finished as Derek Lyle lined up a shot from round 25 yards which Brown seemed to have covered before the ball swerved past him and into the top of the net. It was a big moment for the experienced striker after enduring a difficult few weeks following a family bereavement.
The final twenty minutes of the match were a bit of a non-event as both teams made substitutions and Ayr`s fight had been taken out of them completely but Queens did manage to create a couple of chances in the closing minutes.
Firstly substitute Kevin Smith turned nicely on the edge of the Ayr box and curled a fine effort just wide of the post with the goalkeeper beaten before Dan Carmichael almost notched his hat-trick. Smith did well on the left side of the box and sent a low cross towards the advancing Carmichael but the winger was unable to get enough on the cross and it bobbled wide of the near post.
Queens were much the better side as the scoreline suggests and they asserted their superiority through another fine second half performance with Dan Carmichael this time giving the match-winning performance. The South go marching on.