Second Division leaders Queen of the South came from behind to secure three points against bottom of the table Ayr United at Somerset Park.
The Honest Men took advantage of some slack defending from The Doonhamers as they twice took the lead through Darian MacKinnon before being pegged back by first Nicky Clark and then Paul Burns in the first half. Gavin Reilly followed up his hat-trick against Arbroath with two more in the second half to see his team run out 4-2 winners.
The match began quickly for the home side as Darian MacKinnon fired them in front after eight minutes. Queens centre-back Chris Higgins gave away a free-kick in the middle of the Queens half and was lucky not to be cautioned by the referee. David Sinclair stepped up and floated the ball into the far-post area where the ball bounced around and eventually dropped to MacKinnon lurking five yards out. The Ayr forward made no mistake as he fired into the roof of the net.
The Honest Men almost doubled their lead five minutes later as MacKinnon found his strike-partner Michael Moffat who laid the ball onto the on-rushing Ross Robertson. The winger?s well-hit effort was pushed out emphatically by Lee Robinson in the Queens goal.
Just as the home fans thought their team were going to extend their lead Queens hit back through top scorer Nicky Clark. The away side had been looking dangerous from set-pieces and the equaliser came from a Chris Mitchell corner. The right-back for the day swung in the ball to the front post where it bounced around the Ayr box before falling to Clark who managed to poke the ball home before the Ayr goalkeeper could claim it.
Nicky celebrates his strike - photo from Sandy Robertson
The Doonhamers were only on level terms for three minutes though as Darian MacKinnon netted his second for the day with just 18 minutes on the clock. Ryan McStay found Moffat down the Ayr left where the striker was allowed to turn inside onto his right foot before crossing to find MacKinnon free inside the six-yard-box who headed into the corner.
Willie Gibson then had a penalty shout turned down by the referee before Ayr had two chances to extend their lead before the half-hour mark. Firstly Sinclair had an opportunity from 20 yards but he placed his shot just wide of the post before MacKinnon?s cross found its way to Ross Robertson at the back post. The winger had time to pick his spot but he couldn?t connect properly and his shot didn?t threaten Robinson?s goal.
These were chances Ayr would come to regret missing as Queens immediately went up the other end and scored through new signing Paul Burns. It came from another Chris Mitchell corner from the right and was as simple a goal as they come as Burns met the cross six yards out and fired his header past the exposed Darren Martin. The Ayr defence cannot have been happy as Burns, with possibly the exception of Dan Carmichael, was the smallest man on the park but he rose to finish well to signal his return to the club.
This second equaliser seemed to energise the away side as Burns almost added a third just minutes later. Nicky Clark was freed down the Queens? left and he got to the byline before cutting back a low cross to find Burns at the front post. It was an easy chance but he couldn?t control the shot and it flew high over the crossbar.
The Queens midfield was beginning to assert control at this point and after some nice passing by Gibson and McKenna they opened up the Ayr defence again. McKenna played a lovely reverse pass into the Ayr box where Carmichael burst onto it but the diminutive winger couldn?t beat the onrushing Ayr goalkeeper.
Burns heads home - pohto from Sandy Robertson
Paul Burns - back with a bang! - photo from Sandy Robertson
The game began to settle down for the final ten minutes of the first half as each team were restricted to efforts from range and the two sides went in level at the break.
The second half began slowly as both teams looked to tighten up at the back. Neither manager should have been happy with the defensive showings in the first half and evidently their words were ringing in the ears of the players as efforts on goal were few and far between.
That was until an hour on the clock as Queen of the South kept some sustained possession of the ball and made it count. Mark Durnan strode out of defence with the ball and played a long, high ball over the top of the Ayr defence who failed to clear. The ball bounced before Gavin Reilly controlled the ball and swivelled to put the ball past the Ayr goalkeeper and gave his side the lead.
Gavin Reilly finishes in style - photo from Sandy Robertson
The youngster then notched his sixth league goal of the season in classy fashion five minutes later. Reilly found himself face to face with his marker John Robertson and burst past showing the defender a clean set of heels before rolling the ball past the goalkeeper. It was a wonderful goal that Reilly made look so easy.
The Queens players were now full of confidence and it showed as Gibson fired a long-range piledriver that stung the hands of Martin before Clark hit a shot just wide after some nice footwork opened up the space. The away side were in total control of the match and it looked like they might score every time they ventured into the Ayr half.
There were to be no further goals, however, as Allan Johnston freshened up the team with Lyle and Orsi coming on for Reilly and Gibson before shutting up shop as Ryan McGuffie replaced Nicky Clark.