It was a clash between the two most out-of-form sides in the Championship, Queens having gone 12 games without a win since they were top of the table back in mid-September, and United not having tasted victory in their last eight. Indeed, United’s last success was against their Dumfries hosts the last time they met in October.
Not surprisingly, it produced a contest that was not a thing of beauty.
Gary Naysmith, still looking for his first victory since taking over the Palmerston hot seat at the start of December, almost saw his side make the perfect start after six minutes when Derek Lyle slipped the ball through to Stephen Dobbie, darting in from the right, but the striker’s angled drive from 12 yards was superbly blocked by goalkeeper Greg Fleming.
United, who have not won at Palmerston in the league since 2002, should have gone in front in 19 minutes when Paul Cairney picked out Alan Forest, pictured, racing in from the left, but his crisp, low drive was brilliantly palmed away by goalkeeper Lee Robinson. One minute later the Queens goalkeeper was in action again to beat out a fierce header by captain Conrad Balatoni as Ayr mounted sustained pressure.
Ian McCall’s men came close again on the half-hour mark when Gary Harkins curled a 20-yard free-kick just past after Paul Cairney was tripped by Darren Brownlie.
Six minutes from the break, Dobbie missed a glorious opportunity to put Queens ahead when he shot past in front of goal from 12 yards.
Queens threatened again in 51 minutes when Fleming did well to save a downward header from Derek Lyle. And in 62 minutes Fleming produced another stunning stop from Dobbie.