PARS 1 Queen of the South 1

NIKOLAY TODOROV climbed off the bench to rescue a point for Dunfermline and preserve their unbeaten home record in League One this afternoon.

The Bulgarian striker's 67th minute header secured a point against Queen of the South, who led after Ruari Paton fired them ahead with the last kick of the first half.

It was a point that the Doonhamers will feel that they deserved, having had periods of pressure at different stages of the game, but the Pars had chances too, not least when Todorov fired just wide in stoppage time.

A fifth draw from nine home League One games for James McPake's men, coupled with Edinburgh's win at Clyde, saw their lead at the top cut to five points, but they remain seven clear of Falkirk, who drew at home to Airdrie.

Visiting boss, Wullie Gibson, was pleased with his team's performance, and it would've been a harsh observer who didn't think they merited something from a hard-fought contest.

McPake himself felt it was a fair result, commenting: "Credit to Queens.

"I spoke to the coaching staff and they're the first team that have came here and done that for 90 minutes, played that way and kept at us.

"When we tried to change formation, they didn't really change to suit us, which I think is credit to Wullie Gibson, and bravery from him. It's good tactical work from him because he knew it was working, and he knew that we were the ones that were changing personnel, changing shape at times, so why would he?

"They could have won the game with some chances late on, we could've won the game with some chances late on. That's why I'm not going to stand and be bitter.

"We are disappointed, but I'm not going to stand here and say we should've won that game, or they came, they were negative. They came, they had a right go. Credit to them, but also credit to our group of players for showing real heart and character again when you're down, when you've got a crowd that are demanding balls into the box, and runs forward, which we want, because that then helps the players, because the players go and do it.

"We've dug another point out."

Pars boss McPake, who this week was named manager of the month for November, stuck with the same line-up that saw off Forfar Athletic in the Scottish Cup last weekend.

The visitors, who arrived at East End with the division's second best record over the last six games, behind only the hosts, made three alterations from their team that were knocked out of the cup by Morton.

Euan East and Rico Quitongo dropped out completely, while Calvin McGrory dropped to the bench, as David McKay, Lee Connelly and Stephen Hendrie came in.

The Doonhamers, under the charge of former Athletic star, Wullie Gibson, condemned the Pars to the Championship relegation play-off spot on their last visit to West Fife, winning 2-1 on the final day of the regulation season last term.

The hosts, however, have adjusted to life in the third tier quicker, starting the day with a seven-point lead at the summit, while Queens sat seventh, five points adrift of fourth-top Montrose.

The Pars were 2-0 victors at Palmerston in September and, in their final home match of 2022, sought to maintain their unbeaten home record in the league this season.

In the very early exchanges, it was the hosts who were on the front foot, and Craig Wighton headed the game's first chance over after Chris Mochrie and Josh Edwards combined well on the left to pick him out inside the box.

Dunfermline were dominating possession, but were served notice of the Doonhamers' threat when ex-Par, Gavin Reilly, headed wide after a cross was played in from deep on the right, but the visitors worked their way back into it.

Josh Todd had two efforts in quick succession from range, which finished well wide, while Mochrie headed off-target from Aaron Comrie's cross at the other end for the Pars.

There wasn't a huge number of opportunities for large swathes of the opening period, but the home side did have two decent ones as the half reached its latter stages.

Joe Chalmers was at the heart of the first, picking the ball up just over halfway and advancing forward.

After chopping away from Iain Wilson, he decided not to shoot and slide the ball through for Wighton.

The forward was forced slightly wide with a defender covering, but managed to get a shot away, which Max Currie palmed wide at his near post.

Then Comrie, after being found in the penalty area by Edwards, headed wide as Athletic began to up the pressure before the break.

However, with the last kick of the half, it was Queens who broke the deadlock, when Paton received Lee Connelly's pass inside the area before sending a smart finish beyond the helpless Deniz Mehmet.

Stephen Hendrie then shot just wide early in the second half for Queens, before McPake made his first switch, sending striker, Todorov, for centre back, Sam Fisher.

The Pars, however, looked a bit ragged, and they eventually hacked the ball away from danger after pin-ball inside the box, with Reilly having a shot blocked in the midst of it.

Chances, though, then started to fall the Pars' way.

Rhys Breen had an effort saved by Currie, before Wighton was blocked on the follow-up, before Comrie had a shot beaten away by the Queens keeper.

In the 67th minute, the leveller did come, and it was Todorov who got head, heading into the back of the net from a Comrie cross for his fifth of the season.

The substitue almost had a second moments later, steering a tough chance from Edwards' cross over, before Mehmet did well to tip a Wilson shot over the bar.

The visitors were still posing a threat, with Mehmet required to save well from substitute, Connor Murray, whilst Wighton headed a decent chance over for Athletic as the game approached the final 10 minutes.

Substitute, and ex-Pars loanee, Harry Cochrane, flashed a shot wide for the visitors, who were still searching for a winner like their opponents, while Wighton flicked a header from a long throw from Edwards.

In stoppage time, Todorov almost won it for the Pars when he fired a shot inches wide of the far post from Todd's pass, but the points were shared.

Match stats

Pars: Mehmet, Comrie, Breen, Fisher (Todorov 52), Benedictus, Edwards, Chalmers, Todd, Mochrie (Hamilton 74), Ritchie-Hosler (MacDonald 85), Wighton.

Subs not used: Young, Tod, Sutherland, Mahon, Hoggan, Little.

Goal: Todorov (67).

Booked: Edwards (82).

Queen of the South: Currie, D.McKay, Wilson, P.McKay, Paton, Todd, Reilly, Connelly (Cochrane 65), McKenna, Hendrie, Gibson (Murray 74).

Subs not used: McGrory, McKechnie, Ruth, Irving, McMahon, Bange, Henderson.

Goal: Paton (45).

Booked: McKenna (74), Cochrane (86), Currie (87).

Referee: Colin Steven.

Attendance: 3,927.