Arbroath boss Paul Sheerin was the first to admit that he never saw Queens’ second half demolition of his side coming – and neither did anyone else at Palmerston.
The home side’s Mark Durnan had been sent off for a rash last man challenge just seconds after the visitors had gone a goal up through Steven Doris.
The Doonhamers somehow made it to half time only the one goal behind but nobody could have predicted what happened next.
Not even Allan Johnston who tweaked the team and told them to go out and play their way – the Queens way.
And boy did they turn it around - chalking up five second half strikes to send a beleaguered Arbroath home with their tails between their legs nursing a 5-1 sized headache.
Their player/ manager Sheerin was humble in defeat – the third time Arbroath have left Palmerston empty handed this season having just blown their best chance.
The visiting coach said: “ I didn’t see it coming to be honest with you, but they say you find out more in defeat than you do in winning games and that will be the case.
“When things go against us we lose too many players in the game and that is frustrating but credit to them I thought they were excellent. I thought they pressed us high up the park, never gave us a minute.
“It certainly looked the opposite – the ten men to the 11. It was frustrating but we’ll dust ourselves down. I think that is 13 goals we’ve conceded here in three games which is far too many.”
Queens could have been behind after just 15 seconds – Doris found himself just outside the box with the ball on the bounce but his well placed lob found a back tracking Lee Robinson. The Queens number one getting a strong hand to the ball and turning it over the crossbar.
From then on in it looked like it was only a matter of time until the home side broke the deadlock. Nicky Clark, Danny Carmichael and Gavin Reilly having good opportunities in and around the box to put the home side one up.
But it was to be Arbroath who would take the lead somewhat against the run of play - stunning the Palmerston crowd in the 17th minute.
A killer pass from Darren Gribben found strike partner Doris advancing the Queens penalty area. He took a touch to control the ball before rolling the ball past and advancing Robinson.
And things went from bad to worse for Queens very quickly.
Gribben again causing problems - this time latching onto a through ball before being scythed down by Queens centre back Mark Durnan. Referee Stephen Finnie was in no doubt it was a goal-scoring opportunity and sent the Doonhamer for an early bath.
He was joined in the changing room by a disappointed Gavin Reilly who made way for veteran Derek Young who was sent on by Allan Johnston to help settle the home side down and get them to half time in touching distance.
And that is exactly what happened with neither team adding to the scoreboard in a scrappy 25 minutes before the break.
There was a muffled response to the half time whistle from the Palmerston crowd with some clearly thinking they could be about to witness their side’s first home league defeat of the season.
But how wrong they were.
Queens burst out the blocks in the second half and were incredibly 3-1 up just 20 minutes into the second half.
Firstly midfielder Derek Lyle poked home a deflected Nicky Clark strike after good work down the right by Danny Carmichael.
His pull back found top scorer Clark who showed great composure to get his shot away. It hit an on-rushing defender but fell kindly for Lyle who beat the defender to the ball and forced it over the line nine minutes after the restart.
It was the start of an amazing 11-minute spell for the Palmerston outfit.
The crowd were instantly vocal again with Queens looking every bit the league leaders - even with 10 men.
And they went ahead four minutes after the equaliser.
Substitute Young, who was inspirational after coming on, flicked the ball ahead of Nicky Clark who found himself in a similar position to Arbroath’s Steven Doris in the opening minute. Clark tried the same thing but his lob beat Arbroath keeper Darren Hill for his 23rd goal of the season.
Their third really put the boot into the visitors. With Arbroath pushing forward looking for the equaliser, Queens broke after a corner at lightening speed and looked like four on one as the home side advanced through Ryan McGuffie. He slotted the ball to Carmichael who took a few touches before rolling the ball past Hill to send the home crowd into raptures.
The visitors were shell shocked and it was already looking like a matter of just how many goals ten man Queens could score in the second half?
They continued to run riot for the final 25 minutes - adding two more strikes to the scoreline.
First Stephen McKenna played a one-two off the defender on the edge of the box before stepping over the injured Arbroath man to slot home a fourth, his first of the season.
And Nicky Clark then rounded off the scoring with the goal of the game on 85 minutes to become the country’s top goal scorer.
He and Holt exchanged passes down the left before the striker showed great feet and clinical finishing ability by passing the ball beyond Hill into the far corner.
The scoring was complete and as the fans left following the full time whistle they must have wondered - what just happened there then?
Queens: Robinson, McGuffie, Holt, Durnan, Higgins, Mitchell, Lyle, McKenna, Reilly, Clark, Carmichael. Subs - Smith, Young, Burns, Black, Atkinson.
Arbroath: Hill, Baxter, Hamilton, Kerr, Malcolm, Keddie, Currie, Robertson, Doris, Gribben, Sheerin. Subs - Holmes, Rennie, Sibanda, Travis, Bullock.
Referee: Stephen Finnie.