MARK CONNOLLY admitted the Pars may have been a "soft touch" but he detected a new steel as the team claimed a first league win of the season.

The centre half, who can't bring himself to look at the Championship table, said it was hard to defend the accusation after such an awful start to the campaign.

New boss John Hughes said others in the game had described the team as a "soft touch" and, ahead of the win at Inverness, said he hoped the players knew they were the "laughing stock of Scottish football".

Connolly said: "I don't think many people spoke about it in the dressing room but you don't want to be painted with that brush, being a soft touch in anything.

"That's not what you want to be.

"It's probably right, we're sitting bottom of the table.

"We're talking about Dunfermline being a sleeping giant and it is true, it's a big club, but we're bottom of the table so we need to make sure we change that.

"And if we are a soft touch we need to make sure we're stronger, that's with and without the ball.

"I felt like on Saturday there was a really good reaction, a real desire to go out and win the game."

He said the victory was "more of a relief" than anything else and added: "We needed that off our back and to get that win.

"It's a great start for the boss too, coming in and winning the first game. It makes it easier but we need to climb the table.

"It's not good enough where we are. Looking at the league, we should be up there, in the top half, but you don't just turn up and think because you're Dunfermline you can do that.

"You need to work hard and roll your sleeves up when it's not going well.

"I don't think we've done that enough at times, whereas on Saturday, everyone, including the boys that came on, put bodies on the line when they were throwing balls into the box."

It's early on in the Hughes reign but Connolly said he's been impressed.

He said: "When you've not been winning games and it's so long since you've won, it's tough.

"It's difficult every day coming into training, confidence is low, but he's bubbly and he's tried to get the spirits up.

"It's just my opinion but I think it's a really good appointment in the situation we're in."

The 29-year-old Irishman, on loan from Dundee United, said players had to show character.

Connolly continued: "In life, you need to be mentally strong as you're going to have good days and bad days, no matter what job you do.

"It's about how you react and come back from the tougher times, especially in football because it's so public and thousands of people come to watch games and have an opinion on how you played.

"Sometimes you play well and sometimes you won't and you'll be criticised.

"That's the line of work we're in but you've got make sure you stay strong, bounce back and prove the doubters wrong."