(Written by Tackful Sheik)
After impressive victories over Hearts(4-0), Aberdeen(4-2) and a draw with soon-to-be SPL champions Celtic(1-1), there was actually a sense of optimism about the trip to East End Park.
Dundee United have struggled to find form at East End Park in recent years and it was November 1997 when the Tangerines last returned home with all 3 points.
With it now mathematically impossible for Dundee United to be relegated, and Dunferline struggling at the foot of the table, there was no real pressure on Craig Levein’s side.
The only real concern was the disciplainary situation that captain Barry Robson is currently in, just 1 yellow card away from a 4 match suspension -which would have kept him out until the start of next season.
However, Robson managaed to come through the full 90minutes on the right side of the referee, keeping his firey temper under control…for most of the match anyway.
Christian Kalvenes should have put Dundee United infront after 32 minutes, when he found himself in a great position only 12 yards out, but fired his tame shot directly at Dunfermline keeper De Vries.
United were made to regret that missed opportunity, after the home side went straight up the other end of the park and scored the only goal of the game.
Greg Shields found space up the right wing, before firing in a cross which Tam McManus volleyed past Derek Stillie to put them 1-0 infront.
Although, former Dundee United frontman Jim McIntyre should have put them infront earlier in the match – when he missed an easy chance from only 6 yards.
In the 22nd minute and with only Stillie to beat, McIntyre somehow blasted his shot over the bar – much to Dundee United’s relief.
Craig Levein risked playing captain Barry Robson in this match and his gamble almost paid off after the midfielder’s 1st half freekick from 15yards curled just wide.
Although, after taking the lead towards the end of the 1st half, Dunfermline were determined to take all 3 points and threw everyone behind the ball – spoiling any chance of an entertaining 2nd half.
David McCraken and Jon Daly had chances in the 2nd half to equalise, but United’s East End hoodoo continued, with the 17th consecutive match without victory at East End
The result takes the Pars just 1 point behind Saint Mirren at the bottom of the league table, with both sides meeting in SPL next week.
Although, Dunfermline still have the small matter of their Scottish Cup replay against Hibernian before that crucial relegation decider.
Not that Dundee United have much to look forward to over the next few weeks….
Most United supporters are just hoping this season comes to an end quickly, so Craig Levein can begin re-building his side – with the aim of a more successful assault on the SPL table next season.
Dunfermline 1-0 Dundee United