It’s going to take something special to stop Queen of the South storming to the league title this season.
Allan Johnston’s men are racking up points like a crazed driver on the M74 – and it shows no sign of letting up.
Saturday’s stroll over Ayr United – the bookies’ title favourites during the summer – was another concrete sign of the efficiency this side possesses.
Alloa Athletic’s impressive win at Stenhousemuir maintained the gap at nine points and the Doonhamers’ clash at Recreation Park on December 8 is already standing out as a potential title showdown.
An early header from Ryan McGuffie and the obligatory goal from leading scorer Nicky Clark was enough to see off Mark Roberts’ team.
Somerset player-boss Roberts vowed to attack the league leaders ahead of the derby clash and stuck to his word from the offset.
The visitors didn’t hold back and could easily have opened the scoring, with hitman Michael Moffat blowing two golden chances early on as United pressed.
A long ball on seven minutes caught out the Doonhamers’ defence and Moffat was clean through but a shocking first touch gifted Queens keeper Lee Robinson the ball.
He almost made amends for his blunder in 15 minutes after sprinting away from Chris Higgins but a fine one-handed save from Robinson kept the scores level.
Queens showed their own attacking flair in the opening period, with former Palmerston loan keeper Ally Brown impressing with a string of fine saves to keep out two efforts from Paul Burns.
But ex-Hibs keeper Brown couldn’t stop the league leaders going ahead in 16 minutes, with McGuffie glancing Chris Mitchell’s pin-point cross into the net after Clark had been fouled out wide on the right.
Allan Johnston’s men could have doubled their lead shortly after but Clark nodded over from close range before United keeper Brown saved brilliantly to keep out Derek Young’s header.
Darian MacKinnon missed a golden chance for the visitors on the stroke of half time and Queens made them pay nine minutes into the second half.
Midfielder Burns cut in from the right before driving the ball across the box to the feet of Clark, who had the easy job of tapping in his 16th goal of the season from inside the six yard box.
Clark’s strike deflated the visitors, who barely threatened Robinson’s goal in a relatively quiet second half.
Substitute Gavin Reilly thought he had bagged his 11th goal of the season with seconds left but referee Euan Anderson ruled out the effort for an apparent foul.
After 11 wins in 13 second division games, the Palmerston men were applauded off the field at full-time by the appreciative home support.
With 69 points left to play for in the league, talk of the flag already being sealed is perhaps slightly premature.
But one thing is for certain – this Dumfries team will take some stopping.
Queens: Robinson 7, Mitchell 7, McGuffie 7, Durnan 6, Higgins 6, Young 6, McKenna 6, Burns 7, Carmichael 7 (Hopkirk 82, 3), Lyle 6 (Orsi 82, 3), Clark 7 (Reilly 82, 3). Subs not used: Atkinson, Black. Goals: McGuffie 16, Clark 54.
Ayr Utd: Brown 7, Hunter 5, Twaddle 5, McAusland 5, McCann 6, Sinclair 5, Crawford 6, Wylie 5 (Shankland 78, 3), Moffat 5, Roberts 6, MacKinnon 5 (Winters 64, 4). Subs not used: Roberston, Brownlie, Muir. Booked: Hunter 40.
Referee: Euan Anderson.