Queen of the South were made to regret missed first half chances as they lost out to league leaders Dundee at Dens Park.
Michael Paton, Mark Durnan, Gavin Reilly and Derek Lyle all came close as Queens dominated much of the opening period but could not continue the performance in the second and an Iain Davidson header was enough to take all three points.
The home side began the brighter of the two with a couple of free-kicks inside the Queens half causing the away support concern but strong defending dealt with the first -a cross from deep from Jim McAlister - and a poor effort from Peter MacDonald dealt with the second.
Queens began to settle into the match a little but were almost hit with a sucker punch after 10 minutes as Martin Boyle raced clear of the Queens backline. He had only Zander Clark between him and the goal but the big stopper pulled off a tremendous save to push the ball over the top.
Boyle then had another effort two minutes later but skewed his shot wide of Clark`s post before the Doonhamers started to assert themselves onto the game.
Queens were getting plenty of the ball inside the home half but were struggling to find a way through the Dundee defence with first McShane and then Burns almost getting into shooting positions inside the box.
McShane breaks into the box
On 26 minutes though Queens created their best chances of the game as Gavin Reilly looked to be in behind the defence but lost momentum and had to shoot from 20 yards forcing a strong save from Kyle Letheren. The `keeper pushed the ball out and Queens managed to keep the pressure on with Michael Paton eventually fashioning a shooting chance. After controlling on his thigh 10 yards from goal, Paton caught a half-volley sweetly but his strike hit a defender and deflected wide for a corner.
The Queens players` confidence was up and they began to dominate the game. Firstly Derek Lyle had an effort from an angle pushed behind by Letheren before Paton again tested the home `keeper. Mark Durnan also had a header drop onto the top of the opposition net and Reilly swivelled on the edge of the area but his volley was straight at Letheren.
Durnan rises highest but his effort lands on the roof of the net
Time marched on toward half-time and the Doonhamers were unable to make the pressure count with Durnan missing a header at the far post from a Chris Mitchell delivery before the break.
The second period began slowly with neither team able to create anything of note with the first effort coming seven minutes into the half and it was from an unlikely source as Queens captain Chris Higgins, playing at left-back, cut inside his marker, ran past another and hit a fierce right-footed shot from 25 yards but Letheren was equal to it.
Dundee then almost took the lead as their main threat Martin Boyle burst down the right, knocking the ball past Higgins and playing a low cross toward Peter MacDonald but the striker could not make contact. It was the first time the home side had threatened since the opening 15 minutes but they would take the lead just two minutes later.
It came from a set-piece as Jim McAlister sent in a free-kick from deep to find Iain Davidson free inside the Queens box and the defender beat Clark with a looping header.
Davidson rises above the Queens defence..........
......and there was no way that Zander was getting to the looping header
The home side were understandably lifted after taking the lead and could have been further ahead on 66 minutes as Dundee captain Gavin Rae found himself in space on the edge of the Queens area with a clear sight of goal but a sent his shot well over the crossbar.
It had been all Dundee since the goal but a defensive error from home debutant Adam Cummins on 71 minutes allowed Derek Lyle to steal in toward goal, his shot from an angle forced a decent save from the goalkeeper but the chance was not gone. Queens worked the ball to Michael Paton who dribbled down the left before chipping a high ball to the far post where Paul Burns was unmarked. The midfielder got his finish all wrong though and the ball floated well past the post.
Burns looked a dead cert to tie the match
That was to be Queens` last real opportunity as the home side played out the remaining twenty minutes relatively comfortably and in fact came closer to doubling their lead rather than conceding an equaliser.
The defeat sees Queens fall five points behind third-placed Falkirk but they stay in control of the final play-off position with a three-point lead over Livingston going into the final six games of the season.