Dundee's 4-3 defeat in Dumfries today was a painful lesson in how tough this season's Championship will be. The scoreline might look like a nail-biting seven goal thriller, but the sorry truth is that the Dee were beaten comfortably by an impressive Queen of the South. The day started well when Dundee took the lead with an early Peter MacDonald goal but Queens deservedly equalised through Derek Lyle on the stroke of half time.
The hosts then tore Dundee apart in a 10 minute spell in the middle of the second half that the Dark Blues defence will have nightmares about. Ryan McGuffie scored with a penalty before Iain Russell and Michael Paton added two more. Late goals from Declan Gallagher and a Calum Antell own goal added a trace of respectability to the scoreline, but there can be no hiding from the fact that this was, well, a hiding.
Nicky Riley was injured so Dundee fielded Davidson and McBride in central midfield with Gavin Rae playing in the advanced role behind the strikers.
There were worrying signs of the problems to come even before Dundee took the lead after six minutes.
Paton beat Benedictus on the right and fired in a dangerous cross. With the goal gaping Lyle sent his header straight to Letheren.
Dundee punished Queens for wasting that chance by going up the park and taking the lead. Benedictus's free kick was laid off by Monti for MACDONALD to curl the ball around the keeper and into the net; not so much a shot, more an elegant pass into the net.
Frustratingly that was as good as it got for the Dee in the first half. The Dark Blues were only sporadically threatening, and Queens dominated.
Queens were full of confidence, hard running and enthusiasm. Their front three, with Paton and Russell playing wide of ex-Dee Derek Lyle, repeatedly found space behind the Dundee wing backs and pulled the centre backs wide.
Chris Mitchell's fiercely driven set piece deliveries caused repeated problems in the Dundee defence. The Dark Blues were fortunate to escape one scramble when McGuffie's header from a corner was blocked on the line.
Iain Russell wasted a great chance to equalise when the ball broke to him 15 yards out, but he shot yards too high.
With the referee about to blow for half time Matt Lockwood gave away a silly free kick wide on the Dundee right. Chris Mitchell whipped the ball in, finding LYLE in space at the far post to head across Letheren and score, despite Benedictus's desperate acrobatics on the goal line. That was the last action of the half as the half time whistle sounded as soon as Dundee kicked off.
Queens certainly deserved to reach half time on level terms, but John Brown would have been furious about conceding such an atrocious and avoidable goal so late in the half.
There was little sign of improvement after half time, and Dundee still looked uncomfortable defending set pieces. Just before the hour they came unstuck again, when Davidson seemed to hold McKenna as Mitchell's corner was coming over. That was the referee's decision anyway, and MCGUFFIE stroked the penalty home.
After opening up the Dee defence at set pieces Queens now carved them open twice with fast, simple moves in open play. Lyle headed the ball into the path of RUSSELL, who lashed the ball under Letheren from 12 yards.
Russell then picked up a loose header from Davidson and surged through the middle. He found PATON on the right, who cut inside and shot across Letheren for a ridiculously simple fourth goal.
Queens were threatening to run away with the game and build up a truly humiliating score. After a lengthy passing move Lyle's volley forced a good save from Letheren.
John Brown withdrew Lockwood and Monti, sending on Steven Doris and Martin Boyle, as Dundee struggled desperately, and in vain to turn the game around.
Surprisingly the Dee pulled a goal back after 79 minutes when GALLAGHER headed in Conroy's corner at the near post. On 87 minutes Queens' keeper Calum ANTELL made a mess of a McBride free kick, dropping the ball into his own goal under pressure from Davidson.
Sadly Dundee had failed to worry the Queens' defence in open play throughout the game, and couldn't change that in the last few minutes. Queens survived comfortably and thoroughly deserved the win.
The Dark Blues were second best all over the park today and will have to admit that all the plaudits must go to Queen of the South who gave the Dee a 4-3 thrashing!
The midfield was one paced and couldn't protect the defence or create any dangerous opportunities for the strikers, who were left isolated and ineffective. The defence was constantly pulled about by Queens' pacey attacking down the wings and didn't look comfortable at any stage.
There are clearly lessons to be learned from today's defeat. At least no-one can be under any illusions that this will be an easy campaign for the Dee. On the evidence at Palmerston Park today it's going to be a tough season.
Queen of the South 4-3-3
Mitchell, Dowie, Higgins, Holt
McKenna, McGuffie, Burns
Paton (Carmichael 86), Lyle (Reilly 86), Russell
Unused subs; Atkinson (gk), Durnan, McShane, Slattery, Orsi
Goals; Lyle (45), McGuffie (59 pen), Russell (62), Paton (69)
Booking; Burns (foul on Doris)
Dundee FC 3-4-1-2
Benedictus, Lockwood (Boyle 66), Gallagher
McAlister, Davidson, McBride, Conroy
MacDonald, Monti (Doris 63)
Unused subs; Kerr, Dyer, Reid, Wighton
Goals; MacDonald (6), Gallagher (79), Antell (87 og)
Bookings; Gallagher (foul on Russell), Benedictus (foul on Russell), Davidson (foul on McKenna for penalty), McBride (dissent)
Referee; Brian Colvin
Report; James Christie