A game to forget. Tannadice was the scene of some of Dunfermline's greatest victories over the years, but lately it has become a ground that almost guarantees a home win whenever the Pars are the opposition. This current Dundee United side went into the game as the division's most off-form team, gathering just 5 points from the last 8 games. They are also undoubtedly the worst Dundee United side I have seen in my lifetime - even the team who played in the second tier in the mid 1990s would destroy this current mob.
Allan Johnston named the same starting 11 who played against Raith Rovers on Saturday, with the now free of suspension John Herron still injured. There was an early warning for Dunfermline when United's Blair Spittal sent in a cross that Thomas Mikkelsen stretched to connect with and narrowly failed. Neither team took control of the game, but there were some muted attempts at breaking the deadlock, with Callum Morris heading a corner wide for Dunfermline and then Pars skipper Andy Geggan clearing a cross that was intended for Mikkelsen.
The game then swung on 2 incidents in the space of 30 seconds in the 30th minute. A great ball from Rhys McCabe found the Moff 6 yards from goal but he fluffed his shot. As if that wasn't bad enough, the ball was then played upfield and in a situation reminiscent of the chance described in the paragraph above, Simon Murray sent a cross from the right that went across the Pars box to Mikkelsen who turned it in.
Dunfermline then started to launch high balls to the diminutive pairing of Clark and Moffat. The passing game, so successful at difficult away venues such as Easter Road and Cappielow, was less evident and there were too many long, aimless punts to players who lack height and are also not the most physical of players.
After an early second half scare when Sean Murdoch made a good clearance with Spittal in pursuit, the Pars then created another chance for Moffat. Kallum Higginbotham crossed from the right but Moffat allowed the ball to go past him, instead of launching himself at it. I have praised Moffat's link up play in recent games, but when placed in a goalscoring position, he seems to lack the ability or real desire to score. One shocking miss and then this later chance that he allowed to by-pass him are evidence of this. Meanwhile, his partner in attack, Nicky Clark, was having a poor game. Indeed, when Gavin Reilly was brought on as a substitute for Moffat, he offered more than either of the 2 established forwards, which said it all.
United almost scored a second when Tony Andreu was given time and space to run with the ball and shoot, his effort hitting the post and rebounding away from goal. Dunfermline's play was becoming more ragged, with no lack of effort but a real absence of composure and never forcing United keeper Cammy Bell to make a serious save.
To the surprise of many, Allan Johnston made 3 relatively early substitutions, although less surprisingly, they were all like-for-like; right back Ryan Williamson replaced Andy Geggan, Reilly replaced Moffat, and Joe Cardle replaced Paul McMullan, which led to booing from the Pars support. Clark and Higginbotham stayed on despite having awful games. The 4-4-2 formation remained as it always does.
United then started to time waste, which only highlighted the lack of quality and ambition on show. Referee Willie Collum avoided booking anyone, including some blatant time wasting from the home side. The game struggled on, and Murdoch prevented United from adding to their lead with good stops from Spittal and Nick Van Der Velden.
A poor performance and one which dampened the optimism of the previous few weeks.
Pars starting 11, with marks out of 10:
Match photo gallery
All photos by Pars Review