Dunfermline undone by Stillie's mishap

Dundee United 3 Dunfermline Athletic 2
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The Independent Football

Dundee United survived a spirited Dunfermline comeback to claim three points and strengthen their grip on fifth place in the Bank of Scotland Premier League last night.

Dundee United survived a spirited Dunfermline comeback to claim three points and strengthen their grip on fifth place in the Bank of Scotland Premier League last night.

Jimmy Calderwood's Tennent's Scottish Cup finalists were uncharacteristically disorganised in defence during the first half, allowing Charlie Miller, Chris Innes and Jason Scotland to fire the Tannadice side into a commanding lead within 30 minutes. However, the Fifers fought back and reduced the deficit to one thanks to goals from Lee Bullen and Stevie Crawford.

Victory capped a good day for Ian McCall, who earlier yesterday signed a contract extension to manage Dundee United through to 2008.

United had a great chance as early as the second minute when Scotland was released on the left-hand side, but the Trinidadian wasted the opportunity. But only six minutes later Miller bundled the ball over the line from a few yards out to put United ahead.

United should have added a second in the 15th minute when Scotland laid on an open goal for Samuel, but his shot was deflected wide. They did make it 2-0 after Miller forced the Pars' goalkeeper, Derek Stillie, to palm over a long range effort. From the corner Barry Robson's wicked delivery zipped through a host of players, and fell to Innes, who nodded home.

They added a third on the half hour after a piece of slapstick defending. Andy Tod was short with a back pass, allowing Scotland to put pressure on Stillie as he tried to clear. The ball spun back behind the goalkeeper and Scotland walked it into the net.

Dunfermline got one back four minutes later, with a Bullen header from 10 yards from Dempsey's corner kick, and straight after the they pulled it back to 3-2, when Derek Young found space on the right and picked out Crawford, who found space between two defenders and headed into the bottom corner.

Greg Shields' involvement in the game ended in the 61st minute as he was carried off injured after a challenge with Robson. David Grondin came on in his place. The United substitute Craig Easton almost capped his night with a goal, but Stillie palmed his shot, from the edge of the area, over the crossbar after Scotland slipped the ball through to him from the left.

Stillie had to look lively, in the 75th minute, to smother an Alan Archibald cross as it bounced up in front of him. Thankfully for the Fifers, the ex-Aberdeen man held the ball well on the wet surface.

Billy Dodds was introduced with 10 minutes remaining to help United hold on for the three points.

Dundee United: Gallacher; Wilson, Innes, McCracken, Archibald, Kerr, McInnes (Easton, 39), Miller, Robson, Samuel (Dodds, 80), Scotland (Duff, 90). Substitutes not used: Bullock, Conway.

Dunfermline Athletic: Stillie; Skerla, Tod (Kilgannon, 84), Bullen, Derek Young, Nicholson, Mason (Shields, h-t), Dempsey, Labonte, Crawford, Hunt, Shields (Grondin, 64). Substitutes not used: Scott Thomson, Kay.

Referee: M McCurry (Scotland).

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