You could tell it had been a fairly grim first half when the main talking point among the chattering classes on the rickety press perch at Palmerston was provoked by a steward confiscating a bottle of water from one of the decorated doyens.

Then again, was it water or something slightly stronger to caress those chittering lips and get the typing fingers clanked into life?

Moments later, the same steward returned with the contents of the aforementioned receptacle transferred into a health-and-safety-satisfying tumbler. Perhaps there was ice and a slice in there too?

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That particular 'Watergate' incident took place in the 40th minute and, by that stage, most folk were probably in need of a decent libation to warm the unmentionables given proceedings on the park were meandering to a yawning conclusion.

Just as the half-time whistle loomed, however, the match itself was given a much needed eye-opener. Martin Boyle was sent spinning to the floor by Jim Atkinson, the Queen of the South goalkeeper. The referee pointed to the spot and promptly gave Atkinson his marching orders amid the howls of protest.

Ryan Conroy, who had a stint on loan at the Dumfries club back in 2010, swept home the penalty to give Dundee the lead. From that point on, the contest was pleasantly captivating as the second period provided plenty of engaging entertainment. Dundee had their chances to put the tin lid on affairs after the resumption but, equally, a spirited Queens side could have easily plundered a share of the spoils through their dogged determination.

The 10-man hosts were still causing mischief as the clock ticked down and the visitors' sense of relief at the end was considerable.

Given that they had not won in Dumfries since February 2011, this was a significant triumph for Dundee, the second in a row for new manager Paul Hartley, and a victory which inched them four points clear at the top of the SPFL Championship. Conroy's contribution proved to be decisive.

The 26-year-old seems to be rather prolific from the penalty spot but for those looking for a secret to his success, a kind of E=mc² formula for kicking a stationary ball past a shoogling goalkeeper from 12 yards, there would be no such revelations. "Just put it in the back of the net," he said with a smile.

"I've yet to miss a penalty in three years . . . but I don't really want to jinx myself. I sometimes change side but that was the favourite side I went for. But I shouldn't be telling you too much. I've been here [at Dundee] for about three years and I don't think we have won down here in that time. It shows you just how hard it is to come down here. It's a massive win at this time of the season."

Both Boyle and Jim McAlister had opportunities to put a bit of daylight between the sides early in the second half, while Christian Nade shuddered the post with a fierce drive.

Queens, who had won four of their last five league games, would not go down without a fight, though. Derek Lyle was sent clear but Kyle Letheren, the Dundee goalkeeper, surged from his line and blocked the effort. From the resulting corner, Queens substitute Iain Russell's swipe in a chaotic penalty area rattled the underside of the bar. Right at the death, Letheren rescued Dundee again with a flying save from Andy Dowie's header.

"The boys never say die," said Lyle. "We were down to nine men at Greenock [in a match with Morton last month] and got a great point there. If we got a draw today, nobody could have argued with that."

After such a frenetic second period, those in the parched press pack could have done with a swig from that bottle of water . . . or whatever it was that was in it.