Positives to be taken as Pars are denied Tannadice victory
No changes to the starting 11 or substitutes following Tuesday's win at Brechin. Team lined up in a 4-1-3-2 formation with James Vincent in defensive midfield.
The winless run at Tannadice continues but there was much to be encouraged by in the Dunfermline performance today. For far too long we capitulated against Dundee United, lacking belief and unable to make much of an impression on games at their stadium. Today we matched them in terms of attitude and although United had - marginally - more opportunities to score, we were in no way second best, in what was an evenly contested game.
For the fourth consecutive game we lined up with the same starting 11. Continuity can often produce positive results in football and that is certainly the case with the current Dunfermline team. The January signings are now fully bedded in and working well together. Goalkeeper Lee Robinson, who was brought in due to Sean Murdoch's injury, has been a revelation - one mistake against Morton aside, he has played a big part in the much improved defensive record over the past 2 months, and maintained his performance level today, including a great save from a goal-bound free kick.
United started brightly and a move from left to right in the opening minute almost resulted in a goal but for Lewis Martin's great block, which prevented a shot from Anthony Ralston from finding the net. Dunfermline settled into the game and were unlucky not to open the scoring after 17 minutes when Declan McManus hit the post with a shot from inside the box. Both teams looked to impose themselves with United having a tendency to fall to ground with the slightest contact. There were a few half chances for both sides until the 41st minute when Robinson tipped over Scott Fraser's free kick, a great save from the Pars keeper. Tam Scobbie then almost gace United the lead from the corner kick that followed Robinson's save but his header was kicked off the line by Nicky Clark.
Clark was to make another telling contribution 7 minutes into the second half when he scored his 17th goal of the season. Kallum Higginbotham played a good ball to Ryan Williamson, from the which the Pars fullback found Clark with an accurate cross, which Clark turned in to put the Pars 1-0 up.
Unfortunately, the lead lasted just 3 minutes, and even more sadly from a Dunfermline standpoint was the nature of the United equaliser. James Craigen, back in defence, could have played the ball anywhere except straight off United striker Scott McDonald. Craigen's attempted clearance hit McDonald and rebounded into Robinson's net. A really poor goal to give away.
McDonald then had a shot that flew wide of the Pars goal, and his team mate Ralston also went close with an attempt that Robinson saved. Dunfermline then came close when the ball bobbled around the box, eventually falling to Clark who could not keep his shot down. Back up the other end, United's Mark Durnan might have done better with a close range header that he put wide. McManus then narrowly missed out when Clark did well to hook back the ball from the goal line and across the goal, but just out of reach for McManus to make contact.
The Pars support were in great voice throughout the game and outsung the subdued home fans. We appreciated the effort put in by the players - this was a "real game", after many wasted trips to Tayside, no one could complain about the way the team competed. With just 1 loss in the last 7 games, Dunfermline are improving at just the right time and can look at a favourable fixture list over the remaining weeks of the season with confidence.