Dunfermline exited the Irn Bru Challenge Cup with a whimper, in a below average display that once again saw no goals scored and a player sent off.
Manager Allan Johnston made 2 changes to the side that lost by the same scoreline to the same opponents on Tuesday in the Championship. Rhys McCabe replaced the suspended Nat Wedderburn, and Michael Moffat took Farid El Alagui's place up front. Dundee United made 8 changes to their line up.
The Dunfermline defence had tightened up (or eliminated basic errors) in the past 2 games but in the opening minutes of today's game there was a return to kamikaze defending when Lewis Martin hoofed a clearance high into the air and into his own penalty box, giving United a chance which they failed to capitalise on. It would not take long for the visitors to go ahead though, when in the 8th minute a corner kick was not cleared by the Pars defence, and the ball fell to United defender Mark Durnan who shot home from around 10 yards.
Dunfermline tried to take the game to United and in the 24th minute a well placed pass from Kallum Higginbotham found Nicky Clark, who scooped the ball over the bar when he really should have at least tested the goalkeeper.
United striker Simon Murray had scored in all of the previous 3 meetings between the clubs this season, and he came close again midway through the half but could not get a full connection on the ball from a tight angle. Pars striker Michael Moffat had very few chances to score in his return to the team but was unlucky shortly before halftime when his 20 yard shot hit the post.
Pars keeper Sean Murdoch had the first of several good second half saves when he blocked a Blair Spittal shot after 55 minutes. Two minutes later, Dunfermline were reduced to 10 men when a long ball over the defence found Spittal, who was ahead of Lewis Martin. There were still 40 yards to Murdoch's goal, and with Lee Ashcroft also tracking back, Martin pulled Spittal's shirt an was red carded by referee Willie Collum. The decision may have seemed harsh given the distance from goal and the covering defender, but Martin gave the referee the option through his actions and can have little complaint.
Callum Fordyce was brought on to replace Martin, with the completely ineffective Joe Cardle substituted. Two further Pars substitutions were made in the next 15 minutes: Farid El Alagui for Moffat, and Paul McMullan for Clark.
McMullan was keen to become involved, and a direct run at the United defence when he beat 2 men despite attempts to foul him was brought to an end by the referee, who gave Dunfermline a foul when he should have applied the advantage, as McMullan still had the ball and was running towards the United goal.
Murdoch then was required to make 2 saves, keeping the Pars in the game. The final 10 minutes saw Dunfermline in attack but unable to test United keeper Luis Zwick. In the final minute, El Alagui was brought down on the 18 yard line but Collum waved play on.
Dunfermline now go into next week's important League game at St Mirren without Wedderburn and Martin, a sad legacy, along with the scorelines, of the double header against United.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
All photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery will be posted on Sunday.