PARS 2 Dumbarton 2

NICKY CLARK'S late header rescued a point for Dunfermline at home to Dumbarton this afternoon.

After a poor opening 45 minutes, Tom Walsh's low strike five minutes after the break gave the Sons a shock lead before Callum Morris quickly levelled.

A stunning Dmitris Froxylias curler looked to have earned all three points for the visitors until Clark popped up in the 89th minute to level with a close-range header.

Stephen Aitken's side could perhaps feel aggrieved at not taking more from this game after what had been, for the most part, a wretched home display.

They were guility of giving away cheap possession throughout and their final ball, more often than not, was not good enough to fashion many chances.

Allan Johnston made two changes from the team that drew with Morton on Tuesday night.

Andy Ryan, who scored Dunfermline's goal, missed out after picking up a knock in training yesterday and was replaced by Callum Smith, while Kallum Higginbotham was restored to the starting line-up.

He took the place of Joe Cardle, who found himself on the bench alongside Declan McManus who, like Higginbotham, was back after a ban.

At a chilly East End, the hosts were determined to make a hot start and, within a minute, Fraser Aird had had a sight at goal before Kallum Higginbotham drove a free-kick wide.

In the ninth minute, good play from Ryan Williamson on the right saw him skip clear of Mark Stewart before pulling the ball back for Smith, whose first-time shot was deflected wide brilliantly by Stuart Carswell.

From the resulting corner, Lee Ashcroft got his boot to the ball but was off target, while Tom Walsh tried his luck at the other end but couldn't trouble Sean Murdoch.

Callum Gallagher was fortunate not to earn a 21st minute booking for hauling back Aird as he broke forward but the hosts struggled to fashion many clear opportunities.

Craig Barr produced a brilliant tackle on the edge of the box as Smith threatened to run onto Clark's through ball but, like Tuesday, Athletic's passing and final delivery let them down too often.

There was an opportunity in the 37th minute when, from a corner, Ashcroft headed goalwards to the feet of Smith.

With his back to goal, he couldn't turn but the ball broke to Aird outside the area, who wasn't too far away with his first-time effort.

Stewart flashed a first-time snap-shot over after Dunfermline yet again lost possession, which was a recurring theme during a poor first half from the home side.

If that was bad, then the second half began in even worse fashion as Dumbarton took the lead.

Gallagher's header infield from the right was picked up by Walsh, who was allowed the freedom of East End to move across the edge of the box before sending a low left-foot shot into Murdoch's bottom left corner.

But, no sooner had Dunfermline gone behind, they were level.

Within seconds of subbing Higginbotham and Dean Shiels for Joe Cardle and Michael Paton, the ball was played into Morris' path to send it trundling into the far corner from close range.

A half chance for the Pars soon followed when a Jason Talbot cross, which looked like it would be dealt with, seemed to be left between the goalkeeper and one his defenders allowing Smith to steal in at the back post, but his header back across goal was scrambled clear.

But the game turned on its head again in the 67th minute when Dumbarton regained the lead.

Froxylias has only been on the field a matter of moments when he was offered acres of space to receive a long pass, step infield on his left foot and curl a beauty into the top corner.

It was a wonderful strike but Dunfermline almost pulled level when Clark flashed a header inches wide.

But, despite not looking threatening, the Pars snatched a late leveller.

Good work by Paton saw him lay off for Talbot, who crossed to the far post.

A bit of a scramble, which saw Cardle blocked out, eventually saw the ball stood up for Clark to head in from about a yard out.

Pars: Murdoch, Williamson, Ashcroft, Morris, Talbot, Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Shiels, Aird, Smith, Clark.

Subs: Martin, M'Voto, Paton, McManus, Cardle, Gill.

Dumbarton: Gallagher, McLaughlin, Dowie, Carswell, C. Gallagher, Stewart, Walsh, Wardrop, Hutton, Morrison, Barr.

Subs: Johnston, Hill, Roy, Prior, Froxylias, Nade, Ewings.

Referee: Nick Walsh.