Hugely satisfying win as Pars go third and end Livi's 11 match unbeaten run
Same starting 11 as in the previous game. Jean Yves M'Voto, presumably injured, dropped out of the squad, with Conner Duthie brought in on the subs' bench. No other changes.
A true team performance, grinding out a win against an impressive Livingston side who were unbeaten since early January and who have all but secured second place in this season's Championship. The Pars team fought for every ball and showed great resilience when the opposition had the ball. Livi had plenty of possession but came up against an Iron Curtain home defence, with Lee Ashcroft and Callum Morris outstanding and a career-best display from left back Lewis Martin.
Winter weather in April greeted everyone inside East End Park, with rain, sleet and snow plus heavy winds a feature throughout the game. The game began with Livi putting the Pars defence under early pressure but unable to make a breakthrough, a pattern that was to be repeated throughout the 90 minutes. Dunfermline, who have never lost this season after scoring first in a game, went ahead in the 11th minute when Kallum Higginbotham played a long cross into the box that was met by Tom Beadling and then hammered into the net by Lee Ashcroft with a finish any striker would have been proud of.
The visitors were enjoying an 11 game unbeaten run and pressed the Pars defence with Ryan Hardie and Scott Pittman coming close. Lee Robinson was an assured figure in goal, the defence were solid and the midfield and forwards also worked hard. From Nicky Clark to Tom Beadling, and with Kallum Higginbotham tracking back to help his team mates, everyone made a contribution.
While Livingston had more of the ball, Dunfermline had arguably the better of the chances, with Livi keeper Neil Alexander making a great reaction save from Clark, Beadling seeing his effort hit the post, and McManus being played through on goal but unable to get enough on his shot to trouble Alexander. Referee Stephen Finnie had a shocking game which would come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him take charge of previous Dunfermline games.
Livi continued to press for an equaliser and Lewis Martin had to block a Pittman attempt to keep Dunfermline ahead. As the rain and sleet continued, Dunfermline were restricted to breakaways but were always dangerous. Nat Wedderburn replaced Fraser Aird to bolster the midfield, which he did to great effect. Andy Ryan was then brought on in place of McManus and looked lively.
Dunfermline survived a late penalty appeal when Hardie went down under a challenge from Morris but it looked more a case of the Pars defender being stronger and the Livi striker more interested in winning a penalty after losing the physical battle.
After glancing at his watch several times, Finnie blew the final whistle and Dunfermline had deservedly won 3 points that ended Livi's unbeaten run and ensured that we remain the only team in the division that Livi have not beaten this season. More importantly, we climbed to third place and kept yet another clean sheet. From the pre-match huddle onwards, there is a collective will to win and a growing belief within the team; a mental toughness and a collective desire to succeed, one game at a time.