Queen of the South regained their nine point lead at the top of the Second Division as a Nicky Clark hat-trick saw off derby rivals Stranraer 4-1 at Palmerston Park.
The first half was very much an even affair and ninth-placed Stranraer took the lead through Frank McKeowns 20th minute header before Nicky Clark equalised on 31 minutes. The second half began in much the same fashion before the home sides pressure eventually told as Clark swept the ball in off the post on 63 minutes and then claimed his first ever hat-trick on 69. Substitute Kevin Smith finished the scoring on 83 minutes with a close-range effort.
Manager Allan Johnston was aware of the threat posed by Stranraer and was pleased with the performance: "It was always going to be a tricky tie, they’ve picked up a bit of form in the last few weeks with their new manager and we knew we were going to be in for a right test today.
"I thought we were brilliant, especially second half. In the first half we were a wee bit too slow and deliberate but once we upped the tempo I think we showed the quality we have got."
Hat-trick hero Nicky Clark was understandably pleased with his performance and his manager was too.
Nicky Clark: "I’m delighted. Stranraer scored the first goal and put us under pressure but the boys were brilliant to come back and I’m delighted to get the three goals and the three points.
"If anybody said I’d get twenty goals throughout the whole season I’d have taken their hands off. I’m delighted to have twenty so far and hope it continues over the rest of the season."
Allan Johnston: "That’s the best game I’ve seen him play all season. He was holding the ball up, finishing well but his general all-round play was as good as he’s been."