St Mirren produced a stirring fightback to maintain their position at the top of the table after this Christmas cracker at Palmerston Park.
The Buddies responded to early goals by the home side’s Stephen Dobbie and Chris Kane with a double from former Doonhamer Gavin Reilly and Cammy Smith’s winner to end Queens’ four-game unbeaten run.
“I think we’ve started games better,” Jack Ross, the St Mirren manager, said with considerable understatement. “I said to the players at half-time that the two things they needed to have were patience and trust.
“It was an exciting game. There were a heck of a lot of chances created and I always believed that we would score. They reacted in the right way and showed enough character to come back and win the game in that manner and it’s a brilliant result for us.”
There was a dream start for the Doonhamers who surged into a two-goal lead within six minutes.
Barely 60 seconds had elapsed when Dobbie took possession just outside the box and drilled a low shot beyond the despairing Craig Samson.
There was time for Lewis Morgan to almost draw Saints level with a sizzling effort which rose just too high before Dobbie turned provider for Kane to shoot home from 14 yards.
The match was clearly going to provide an examination of the Buddies’ title credentials and they responded in style.
Smith was at the heart of many of the visitors attacking moves but it was Reilly who put his former Queens mates under pressure by heading home from close range to give Saints a lifeline.
Dobbie almost restored the two-goal cushion with a shot which rebounded from an upright but Saints responded and were level on 35 minutes when Reilly beat home keeper Alan Martin with a piercing shot to the bottom right-hand corner.
Smith then shot narrowly wide before Martin produced an athletic save to keep out Jack Baird’s header as the visitors went to the interval on top.
Queens produced another flying start to the second period but this time without finding the net, despite the best efforts of Dobbie in particular.
Instead the Buddies completed their revival when Ian McShane’s corner created panic in the home defence and McKenzie found space to stab the ball over the line from close range for what proved to be the winner.
The disappointed Queens manager Gary Naysmith said: “I don’t want to pick the players up just now.
“I want them to stew in this because I know this will spoil my Christmas.”