Dunfermline in line

Dundee United 0 Dunfermline 1 Petrie 7 Attendance: 12,203
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The Independent Online
After years of practice and failure, Dunfermline seem to have finally mastered the tricky problem of promotion. One victory away from the First Division title, success seems to finally be coming their way and few can begrudge them it.

It has been a tragic season for the Pars. They lost their captain, Norrie McAthie, who died after being poisoned from a gas leak at the turn of the year, shattering the close-knit Fife community.

They did not win with flair or skill yesterday, but Dunfermline came to Tannadice and held their nerve while most expected them to choke. For the final half hour, they only had 10 men.

They may yet miss out. Next week they face Airdrie, while Dundee United and Morton, both two points behind, play each other for what could prove to be the title itself or a play-off against Partick Thistle.

What of Dundee United? Thirteen years ago they broke the Old Firm monopoly when they won the Scottish title and went on to reach a European final. A win yesterday would have secured the title, but as it stands they are unsure of a play-off place.

The goal came after only eight minutes when Stewart Petrie skipped between United's goalkeeper, Ally Maxwell, and Grant Johnson to find the net, flicking on an Alan Moore header. There have always been questions over Maxwell and his inability to come off his line. Thereafter the pattern was set. Dunfermline concentrated their defence and United were restricted to efforts from outside the box. Owen Coyle, Craig Brewster, Gary McSwegan and Brian Welsh all had opportunities but Dunfermline's keeper, Ian Westwater, was never in genuine trouble in the first half.

Christian Dailly replaced McSwegan in attack for the second half as United resorted to an aerial approach. His two headers that grazed the crossbar will undoubtedly be given as examples of United's bad luck. Dunfermline's own brand of misfortune reared its head in the 64th minute when the goal- scorer, Petrie, was sent off for going through the ball and Maurice Malpas. In a game devoid of subtlety, the Pars probably deserved their win for that very passion - if nothing else.