Pure entertainment at East End Park, with 7 goals, all-out attacking play and some defensive howlers all added up to a great victory for Dunfermline. Manager Allan Johnston brought in Sean Murdoch, Jason Talbot, John Herron and Joe Cardle, replacing David Hutton, Ben Richards-Everton, Rhys McCabe and Paul McMullan. Callum Fordyce (right back last week) moved to central defence and the versatile Lewis Martin (left back in recent games) was at right-back.
The Pars dominated possession for much of the opening 20 minutes, with efforts by Michael Paton and Joe Cardle that were dealt with by Saints keeper Scott Gallagher. Then after half an hour, and completely against the run of play, St Mirren went ahead. A slack clearance by Fordyce went to John Sutton, who placed the ball beyond Murdoch, and despite Talbot's best efforts, the ball crossed the line.
In the 39th minute the Pars equalised. Michael Paton twisted and spun past his marker and passed to Jason Talbot, whose pin-point cross was met by Nicky Clark, and his header gave Gallagher no chance. Just as the team seemed to gain confidence from the equaliser, St Mirren were gifted the lead for the second time. Once again it was Fordyce who was at fault, misjudging a Ryan Hardie pass, and allowing the ball to go past him, to where Sutton was waiting to score his second goal.
Allan Johnston made a tactical substitution at half-time, withdrawing Fordyce, bringing on Ryan Williamson at right back, with Lewis Martin moving to central defence. St Mirren had a couple of chances early in the second period, with Sutton missing a chance for his hat-trick with a header that should have tested Murdoch but instead went wide.
John Herron was beginning to take a grip of the midfield and Michael Paton's dead ball deliveries noticeably improved.
In the 62nd minute, the Pars pressure paid off when Ryan Williamson went on a typical run down the right, after collecting a Herron pass. His cross was met by Gavin Reilly, whose shot was saved by Gallagher. The ball fell to Cardle who hit the post, then struck the unfortunate Andy Webster and into the Saints net.
Geggan had a shot from distance that fizzed past the post, then the overlapping Talbot took a tremendous pass from Herron but struck the ball wide of the far post.
Dunfermline took the lead after 77 minutes. Herron passed to Paton, whose excellent cross to Clark saw the striker connect perfectly for his second goal and the Pars' third.
Just as it looked - again - as though the Pars would go onto dominate, St Mirren equalised. Once again, poor defending gave the visitors an opportunity, when in the 81st minute the defence backed off and invited a shot from Hardie, who took full advantage with a great shot into the far corner of Murdoch's goal.
Farid El Alagui had replaced the ineffective Reilly and was given a great chance to score but seemed to lack the pace to get away from his marker, and couldn't get a clear strike when in on goal. The striker's time would come, however.
In the 84th minute Kyle Hutton, who had a short on loan spell with Dunfermline in 2012, attempted a pass back to his keeper but was woefully short. El Alagui intercepted the pass and slipped the ball past Gallagher to send East End Park wild.
Great credit must go to the manager for his substitutions and his decision to change the defence at half time. John Herron, on his first start for the team, had a very good second half, while Nicky Clark (pictured above, pre-match) was the Pars' outstanding player, with 2 great finishes and a tireless work rate.
Pars player ratings (starting 11):
Photos by Pars Review.
A full match photo gallery with 25 photos will be posted tomorrow.