Pars 0 Kelty Hearts 0

ATHLETIC and Kelty Hearts shared the spoils as the final Fife derby of the season ended in stalemate at KDM Group East End Park.

John Potter's visitors deservedly picked up their first point at the home of their neighbours, thanks to a resolute, disciplined and organised defensive show that left the league leaders frustrated.

The Pars remain 11 points clear at the summit, after second placed Falkirk drew at Clyde, before the top two meet at the Falkirk Stadium next Saturday.

Whilst the league cannot be won at the home of their rivals, victory would put them within touching distance, with the number of games left for both clubs down to six.

"First half was a bit of a boring game," McPake said.

"I've said that a few times. I can't fault the players for effort, endeavour, and everything they gave again.

"There's just a frustration there in terms of we didn't create enough to get the fans going. I think the place was a bit flat today, which I get, but it's also disappointed as well, from all sides. They wanted us to get something going, and the frustration was just building.

"But, look, the players have been excellent, the fans have been excellent all season. Just today, we could've been doing with something by somebody, whether it be a player; us, we tried, the fans tried, we all gave it a go today.

"It was a bit of a boring game - I think everybody that was here would say that - but it wasn't through a lack of effort or commitment from the players."

Potter, whose side are already assured of their place in League One for next season, commented: "I'm happy with the point and the result, our work rate and our effort and the desire to keep the ball out of the goal.

"Can we be better with the ball? Yeah. I think we have in the main in a lot games this season.

"We have in other games against Dunfermline. But when you come here to a club this size, the team that's going to win the league.

"To get a point is a good point for us."

First half opportunities for Craig Wighton and Kane Ritchie-Hosler failed to find a goal for the league leaders, with their opponents producing a solid showing in a scrappy opening 45 minutes, Home boss McPake named an unchanged starting line-up from the previous week's trip to Montrose, sticking with the side that came away with a 3-1 win, whilst counterpart Potter made only one alteration to his team.

Tam O'Ware missed out following the draw at Falkirk last week, and was replaced by Darren Lyon.

That draw at the Falkirk Stadium - the seventh point from a possible 12 that Kelty had taken from the Bairns - did their neighbours a favour heading into this weekend's fixtures.

Following Dunfermline's victory, it allowed the Pars to move 11 points clear of their second-placed rivals, putting them within sight of the title and an instant return to the Championsip.

The possibilities of where, and when, that could happen was not something being focussed on by McPake or his players, who anticipated another tough encounter with Kelty.

After a scoreless draw in their first meeting in August, Athletic had prevailed 2-1 in the previous two encounters, with the latter, on Christmas Eve, seeing them fight back from a goal down to win it late on.

With the visitors' place in League One for next season secured, and the promotion play-offs all-but out of reach - they were 15 points adrift of fourth place, with 18 points left available to them, ahead of kick-off - Potter had urged his men to try and enjoy the occasion.

They started by turning Dunfermline around to attack the Norrie McCathie Stand for the first half, but it was the Pars who had the game's first chance.

Ritchie-Hosler was the architect, producing a cross from the right-hand side for Wighton, whose header was turned around the post by Darren Jamieson.

The on-loan Rangers winger soon tried an attempt of his own, having a shot saved by Jamieson, via a deflection off ex-Par, Lewis Martin, after a good run into the penalty box.

The game, for large spells in the opening period, was scrappy, with Dunfermline in particular guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.

The longer it went on, the more comfortable Kelty became, but they suffered a blow before the break when Nathan Austin was substituted and replaced by youngster, Finlay Shearer, due to injury.

Dunfermline's best chance of the half arrived soon afterwards when Ritchie-Hosler picked out Wighton with a low ball but, around six yards out, the Pars number nine didn't connect as cleanly as he would've liked, with the ball going wide of the post.

Kyle Benedictus had a shot blocked amidst a goalmouth scramble early in the second period but, just shy of the hour mark, McPake made a triple substitution in a bid to turn the tide Dunfermline's way.

Wighton, Lewis McCann and Robbie Mahon were sacrificed for Chris Mochrie, Nikolay Todorov and Paul McGowan, with the latter soon sending a volley over as the ball dropped to him at the edge of the box.

The Dundee loanee soon came even closer, sending a header from another fine Ritchie-Hosler delivery just wide of the far post, but the hosts still struggled to penetrate a well-organised and disciplined Kelty side.

Whilst they huffed and puffed, Dunfermline couldn't break through the visitors as, while Chris Hamilton had strong appeals for a penalty turned down late on when he appeared to be pushed over by Kanayo Megwa, which the referee deemed to be a dive, and booked the midfielder, the points were shared.

Match stats

Pars: Mehmet, Comrie, Benedictus, Otoo, Edwards, Ritchie-Hosler, Hamilton, Chalmers (O'Hara 73), Mahon (McGowan 59), Wighton (Mochrie 59), McCann (Todorov 59).

Subs not used: MacDonald, Allan, Fenton, Sutherland, Little.

Booked: Hamilton (87).

Kelty Hearts: Jamieson, Megwa, Thomson, Martin, Lyon, Milne, Tidser (Darge 78), Barjonas, Agyeman, Austin (Shearer 35), Cardle (Leitch 66).

Subs not used: Peggie, Philp, McCulloch, Campbell.

Booked: Cardle (23), Tidser (67), Megwa (69), Shearer (76), Jamieson (90).

Referee: Calum Scott.

Attendance: 4,702.