Pars move into top 4 thanks to Clark hat-trick
James Vincent was missing, leading to Fraser Aird being named in the starting 11, on the left, with James Craigen moving to centre midfield. Dean Shiels came back into the squad on the bench.
This was a crucial win that built on the momentum gathered over the past few weeks. Dunfermline are now in fourth place and have 5 League fixtures to play that compare favourably to the remaining games faced by top 4 rivals Morton, Dundee United and today's opponents Queens. Inverness and Falkirk cannot yet be counted out either but 4 of our last 5 games are against teams that are below us in the table.
After a well-observed minute's silence to mark the passing of 1961 Scottish Cup winning captain Ron Mailer, the Pars took the game to Queens' who were without injured top scorer Stephen Dobbie. After winning convincingly in the last meeting of the teams at East End Park, Queens now had to cope with a much different Dunfermline side: full of energy, quick passing movements and good link-up play. Queens' keeper Jack Leighfield made a great save with his legs from a goal-bound Nicky Clark shot in the 15th minute; Clark came close again with an effort that was blocked, and Callum Morris saw a header saved. The closest Queens came was a Joe Thomson shot that hit the bar with the player flagged offside in any case.
The opening goal came after 33 minutes and was expertly-placed header by Clark after good work by Fraser Aird. Clark then got his second, finishing off an excellent team move that saw a series of passes between midfield and attack, ending with Clark's well-taken shot. It was possibly the best team goal of the season, such was the good play in the build-up to the clinical finish.
Leading 2-0 at half-time, the visitors began the second half looking to get back into a game that they had been mostly spectators in during the first 45 minutes. Pars keeper Lee Robinson made 2 excellent reaction saves but was beaten when a shot from across the box by Jordan Marshall evaded his full-length dive, to make the score 2-1 after 69 minutes.
Declan McManus, without a goal since early January, had an opportunity to score when played through on goal but he delayed his shot and was tackled inside the box by Darren Brownlie. Clark put a shot narrowly wide but Queens remained a threat, forcing Dunfermline back in contrast to the one-sided first half.
In added on time, Ryan Williamson, who had not enjoyed the best of games defensively and who had seemed strangely reticent to make his trademark overlapping runs, was given a good ball down the right and lofted over a first-time cross that Clark met with a glancing header. The ball hit the net and the 3 points were secured. Ron Mailer would have been very happy.
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