Dunfermline's five game winning run ended with old foes Dundee United once again coming out on top against us, in a game that saw the Pars start brightly but fade after the only goal was scored, before rallying towards the end but failing to find the net.
The disappointment felt at the final whistle was a consequence of the team's progress over the past few games and how expectations have risen. This loss, while a setback, makes Friday's match against Ayr United all the more important as we enter the final few weeks of the season.
Stevie Crawford selected the same team that started last time out against Alloa 2 and a half weeks ago. One significant change on the substitutes bench was the return from injury of Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
The team lined up in a 4-1-3-1-1 formation, with Tom Beadling in defensive midfield. Kallum Higginbotham, Joe Thomson and Ryan Blair formed a midfield 3 - occasionally becoming 4 when Louis Longridge dropped back from his left sided role, playing behind lone striker Bruce Anderson.
The solid run of results that spanned 5 matches, all won with no goals conceded, was built on a strong defensive foundation but after a positive start to the game - Ryan Blair fizzing a cross into the box that had no takers, which was followed by a few other half chances that lacked either a killer final pass, or a clinical finish - the Pars defence showed signs of vulnerability. James Craigen gave away possession and was fortunate not to be punished for the error, while centrally, United were testing Lee Ashcroft and Danny Devine, who both looked uncomfortable. The game's only goal came in the 24th minute when Peter Pawlett was allowed to run, unchallenged, and slot the ball past Ryan Scully. ''Goals change games'' is an old adage and this was certainly the case after United scored. The visitors took great heart from their goal while the Pars' play became increasingly disjointed. Scully made 2 good reaction saves and there were other chances for Pavol Safranko and Calum Butcher.
Halftime came as a relief, a chance to regroup and regain the composure that had been such an important facet of the team's displays of late.
The second half was an improvement over the final 20 minutes of the first period. The team pressed continuously for an equaliser but too often some good build up play ended with an overhit cross, or a ball being played into a dangerous area with no one on the end to convert. United were still a threat on breakaways but as the minutes ticked by, the team's old failing of lack of goals proved to be the barrier between deserving an equaliser and actually getting one.
Frustration greeted the final whistle; this was an opportunity missed and was a game that highlighted how far we have come, and also how far we still have to go to fully realise our ambitions.
Ryan Scully 7 Two excellent first half saves and a solid game from the keeper, despite his long period without conceding coming to an end.
James Craigen 6 Shaky defensive work in the first period but improved in the second half in an attacking sense.
Danny Devine 5.5 Battled away but was well below the standard he has set in recent games.
Lee Ashcroft 5.5 Lack of pace was evident at times and will not be happy with his part in United's goal.
Jackson Longridge 7 One of the team's best attacking outlets and has is returning to his early season form.
Tom Beadling 6 One crucial first half interception to save United breaking through after a Craigen error.
Kallum Higginbotham 5 No denying how keen he is to impress but this was another game when little went right for Higgy.
Joe Thomson 5.5 Joe's least effective game for a while. Energetic as usual but did little of note creatively.
Ryan Blair 5 Disappointing performance. Dead ball delivery decent but didn't offer much in general play.
Louis Longridge 5 A couple of good runs but generally looked heavy legged.
Bruce Anderson 6 Isolated up front and failed to get on the end of balls played into the box. Not his best game.
Subs used: Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Matty Todd, Myles Hippolyte
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