QUEEN of the South grabbed the derby bragging rights but Stranraer can hold their heads high after playing their part in an eight-goal thriller.
The Blues have not won at Palmerston Park since 2001 but gave their Championship opposition a real fright, with a crazy five-minute spell before half time ultimately deciding the destination of the three points.
Stevie Farrell’s squad was much changed with just Jamie Hamill and Grant Anderson retaining their places in the starting line-up from the opening match of last season against St Mirren.
Instead, there were Stranraer debuts for six players, with two more stepping off the bench in the second half.
One of those debutants, Mark Lamont, was involved in the first real chance when he crossed in for Anderson.
There were genuine shouts for a penalty with the former Queens man nudged in the back but referee John Beaton waved the appeals away.
Still, the travelling fans did not have long to wait for the opening goal of the game.
Just 60 seconds later and Anderson was again involved.
His cross from the right was inch-perfect for Chris McGowan who had timed his run to perfection and rose unmarked at the back post to nod home.
Before the Stranraer fans had stopped celebrating, their team had doubled the lead.
Jamie Hamill’s free-kick was headed back into the danger zone by Anderson.
The home defence got themselves tied in knots with Isaac Layne and Luke Donnelly making a nuisance of themselves and it was the former Celtic man who poked home the loose ball.
It was a dream start, with Queens rarely threatening in the opening half hour and when they did get on the scoresheet it came out of nowhere.
Stephen Dobbie’s shot from 25 yards was blocked and spun kindly into the path of Gary Harkins.
The midfielder unleashed a ferocious effort from distance which left Max Currie with no chance.
It was a goal which kickstarted a crazy four-minute period with Harkins at the heart of it.
Within 60 seconds, his quick free-kick was fired home by Dobbie and then mere seconds after that he played the ball through to Lyndon Dykes, who slid the ball under the advancing Currie.
Stranraer had looked cool and composed in defence with Queens struggling to create anything until then but the game was turned on its head with the away fans and team likely wondering what had just hit them.
Still, Stranraer showed great heart after the break and came within inches of pulling level.
Anderson’s shot squeezed past Jack Leighfield and came back off the base of the right post.
Donnelly was quickest to react to the loose ball but his effort dropped just the wrong side of the opposite upright.
The chance gave Stranraer hope and returned Queens to the nervy defending which had been on display for much of the first half.
Layne fired at the goalkeeper and then Anderson called Leighfield into action with a fierce 30-yard blast moments later.
Any chance of a comeback looked dead and buried midway through the second half though and it came courtesy of a familiar face.
Andy Stirling had been quietly impressive on the wing and whether it was a cross or a shot may be up for debate but the result was the ball whistling over the head of a stranded Currie.
Queens could have been expected to see out the game with few issues but it was not that sort of afternoon and Stranraer again came on strongly.
Substitute Cameron Elliott was denied by Leighfield and then Kyle Turner was on hand to finish off a fine team move with a cool finish beyond the exposed goalkeeper.
McGowan hooked a shot over with eight minutes to play but ultimately the home side – and Dobbie’s – quality shone through.
The former Rangers, Hibs and Swansea frontman found space in the box with three minutes left and smashed across Currie to finally put the game to bed.
It was an exhilarating tie and one which Farrell and his team can take many positives from, with another tough task in the shape of Motherwell visiting this weekend.
Queen of the South: Leighfield, Mercer, Marshall, Fordyce, Doyle, Stirling (Tremble 90), Jacobs (Todd 46), Dobbie, Harkins, Bell, Dykes (Semple 90).
Not used: Watson, Murray, Harvey and Martin.
Stranraer: Currie, McGowan, McDonald, Smith, Hamill, McManus, Lamont (Lidington 78), Turner, Anderson, Layne (Elliott 72), Donnelly (Ashmore 72).
Not used: Brownlie and Avci.
Referee: John Beaton
Photos: Queen of the South FC