GOOD luck to anyone trying to make money predicting results in the Scottish Championship every week.
Ross County remain top of the table but that was scant consolation on an afternoon when they were run ragged by a Queen of the South side who bolstered their own promotion prospects as they moved into the play-off positions.
They had strong performers all over the pitch but once again it was Stephen Dobbie who took the man-of-the-match award having pillaged two more goals to take his haul to the season to 32.
He also provided an assist for Michael Doyle for Queens’ second goal, while Barry Maguire also enjoyed a home debut to remember by scoring his team’s third.
A dark day for County was compounded by the second-half dismissal of Josh Mullin for a wild lunge on Maguire.
This was Queen of the South’s day, however, and they are gradually picking up steam.
Manager Gary Naysmith tried to talk down their prospects of challenging County, Ayr United and Dundee United for the title but, on this form, only a fool would write them off.
“We hadn’t really lost a lot but there have been a lot of draws,” said the former Scotland international. “Now we’ve got a couple of wins in the last two games and it’s one defeat in 10.
“But as soon as we start thinking we are anything different from what we are, we’ll start getting bad results. So we’ll enjoy it and then tomorrow I’ll move on to looking at how we can give Dundee a game in the cup next week.”
The first goal of the game arrived after 12 minutes and, almost inevitability, it was Dobbie who scored it. The venerable striker turned 36 at the end of last year but the passing of time has done little to diminish his effectiveness in front of goal.
A week after notching his 30th goal of another stellar season, he added number 31 with a low finish under goalkeeper Scott Fox after being played in brilliantly by Nicky Low.
Dobbie came close twice to scoring again – the first with the outside of his boot, the second a low volley – only for Fox to deny him on both occasions.
Queens, though, would get their goal via other means before the half was out. Dobbie this time was the provider, sliding a pass in to Doyle who finished well into the far corner. Goals from Maguire and then Dobbie’s second would add a further sheen on the scoreline after the break.
County had chances in the first half to make it a closer contest – Alan Martin pulled off a good save from Billy Mckay, while Ross Stewart shot wide when he ought to have scored – but once Queens went two in front the visitors never looked like recovering.
“It wasn’t good enough,” admitted co-manager Steven Ferguson. “We weren’t disciplined with or without the ball, and Queens took full advantage of that.”