A determined team performance almost gave the Pars a deserved point from a controversial game at Tannadice. There were no changes to the Dunfermline starting 11 following the draw with Raith Rovers 3 days before. The early stages of the game saw Allan Johnston's team more than match their opponents, who were 7 places and 15 points ahead of Dunfermline before the game.
Both teams had several attacks during the first half. The best Dunfermline effort came when Nicky Clark's powerful run from the right side of attack ended in a shot on goal that was saved by Cammy Bell. Frustration was creeping into the home side's play, with United midfielder Willo Flood barking orders at his team mates as the game remained goalless.
In the 37th minute a bad challenge on Kallum Higginbotham which left the Pars winger injured was ignored by referee Don Robertson. A throw in was given, after Dunfermline had kicked the ball out of play to allow Higginbotham to receive treatment. United threw the ball back to the Pars defence, only for the referee to make them take the throw in again, 1 yard back, and the ball was once again thrown to Dunfermline. Higginbotham rejoined play in time for the referee to give a straight red card to Pars midfielder Nat Wedderburn. In a packed centre circle, Wedderburn was deemed to have made a dangerous tackle despite winning the ball, and was sent off for a challenge that was not no worse than the ungiven foul on Higginbotham minutes before.
At half time Johnston took off Joe Cardle - who had been having an ineffective game in any case - and brought on Rhys McCabe to fill Wedderburn's place in central midfield.
The second half saw Dunfermline defend with great determination, restricting United to long range efforts from outside the box. The Pars were attacking on the break by this point, and Higginbotham came close with a shot across the goal, while a breakaway saw Farid El Alagui play the ball too wide for Nicky Clark, and the chance was lost.
A draw would have been an excellent result before the game, and even more so given the performance of the 10 men. Sadly, it was not to be . In the 79th minute, a United corner kick found Simon Murray who put the ball past Murdoch for the game's only goal.
Paul McMullan replaced Higginbotham after 84 minutes. The referee turned down an appeal for a penalty when Nicky Clark was barged in the back.
United keeper Bell then received a yellow card for running out of his goal to demand that Andy Geggan be booked for a shirt tug on a United defender.
The game may have ended in defeat, but there was much to take heart from in Dunfermline's display.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
All photos by Pars Review.
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