Three penalties saved, the opposition down to ten men and the team's best player left on the bench until 7 minutes to go: a bizarre, shambolic afternoon for the home side at East End Park resulted in a fourth consecutive League defeat.
To the surprise of many, Joe Cardle was not brought back into the starting 11, with manager Allan Johnston keeping the same line-up that began the Challenge Cup game at Brechin last week. There was one change on the bench, with Farid El Alagui replacing Lewis Spence.
Dundee United came into the game with 1 win from the opening 4 League games, the same as Dunfermline. A fairly even start to the game saw both sides have possession and neither dominating. The madness began in the 9th minute when Gavin Reilly's penalty was saved by United keeper Cammy Bell. In the 21st Minute Simon Murray gave the visitors the lead after some woeful defending by Dunfermline - a huge gap down the right side was exploited and when the ball came across, Murray latched onto Callum Fordyce's poor clearance to score.
The Pars were awarded a second penalty in the 28th minute. The kick was taken by Nicky Clark but Bell saved his attempt. Three minutes later, Dunfermline were given another penalty kick. Paul McMullan was given the task this time but yet again Bell was to save the kick, to complete what must be some type of record - 3 penalties missed in a 22 minute spell by 3 different players.
The second half had barely started when United went 2-0 up, and again it was an attack down the Dunfermline right that ended in Tony Andreu finishing to double his side's lead. The Pars pulled a goal back after 51 minutes when Michael Paton lashed a shot into the net after the ball broke to him inside the box. In the 58th minute, United's Paul Dixon was sent off for a second yellow card, giving the Pars half an hour plus added time to get back into the game. Chances were missed by Callum Fordyce and Lee Ashcroft, both headers. Paton then had a shot that hit a defender when an equalising goal looked certain.
During this period, it might have been an idea to use the creative players on the bench and try other ways of breaking down the time-wasting United defence. Instead of bringing on Cardle or Kallum Higginbotham, Johnston persevered with the ineffective Rhys McCabe, who is allegedly the team's "creative midfielder" but whose only half decent game this season was against the part timers of Brechin last week, and not players who actually play the game for a living.
Cardle was eventually brought on after 83 minutes, and was told to play BEHIND Paul McMullan on the left, not quite as a left back, but certainly not far enough up the pitch to do real damage. Farid El Alagui (pictured, right), who had come on in the 76th minute, won all his aerial challenges but also missed a good chance from close range with a header that Bell saved comfortably.
In time added on, Andreu scored United's third after a breakaway left him with a clear shot at goal, which he put away confidently.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Photos by Pars Review.
A full photo gallery with 39 pictures will be posted tomorrow.