Livingston 0-0 PARS

DUNFERMLINE were forced to settle for a frustrating stalemate after a hard-fought clash with 10-man Livingston this afternoon.

The Pars came closest to scoring throughout the contest but couldn't take advantage of Jordan Thompson's 69th minute red card for a poor tackle on Andy Ryan.

The point lifts Athletic back into the top four but, despite this game not being a classic, they will be disappointed not to be heading home with with all three.

Allan Johnston made three changes to the team that started last weekend's last-gasp defeat at Morton.

On-loan Dundee midfielder James Vincent replaced Nat Wedderburn for his debut, while Joe Cardle and skipper Callum Morris both also dropped to the bench in favour of Andy Ryan and Lee Ashcroft.

There was little for the spectators to get excited about in the early stages - other than a clash of heads between Ryan and Jordan Thompson, and a deflected Scott Pittman shot wide of goal for Livi - but Johnston was bold in his selection, with Ryan and Declan McManus up front with captain for the day Nicky Clark just behind.

A half chance fell the way of McManus in the 13th minute when, latching on to a through pass, he shot across goal but wide from the right-side of the penalty area with the angle and a home defender closing against him.

After having an appeal for a foul on Clark by Craig Halkett waved away, the hosts then broke forward and tested Lee Robinson through Thompson's ranger before Clark tried his luck with a right-footer from 20 yards, but the ball finished narrowly wide.

Ex-Par Shaun Byrne then was forced off - and booked - with injury after a late tackle in the middle of the park but, on the half hour, Dunfermline were somehow denied the opener.

After some good play in and around the box, they worked the ball to Ryan, whose shot towards goal was blocked.

It then fell kindly for Clark to smash it back towards Neil Alexander's bottom left corner and, by either the inside of the post or a Livi defender's head - it was hard to tell - the ball stayed out.

Dunfermline kept the pressure on, with Ryan Williamson doing well to beat his man and centre on the right, but they just couldn't get a shot away.

There weren't many clear-cut opportunities throughout the opening 45 minutes; Nicky Cadden had an ambitious effort blocked for David Hopkin's team as a half littered with fouls drew to a close, but the visitors had a big appeal for a penalty in the final minute of the half.

McManus did well to knock the ball down on the right-edge of the box in the direction of Ryan who, in going for it, was barged over by Declan Gallagher.

In other areas of the park - indeed, moments later Dunfermline got a free-kick from referee Greig Aitken for a similar challenge - a foul would likely be given, but there was nothing doing.

Good feet from James Craigen, whose delivery and passing impressed during the opening period, allowed him to find Ryan, who was again blocked out before Alexander thwarted the ever-alert Clark.

The second half was just three minutes old when the visitors had another decent opportunity.

After Williamson won a foul on the right, Craigen's delivery into the middle of the penalty area was headed away by the home defence but the ball fell back the way of McManus, who did well to get a near post strike in that Alexander instinctively blocked well.

Ryan was soon unfortunate not to connect with a decent centre by Craigen before, in the 57th minute, McManus met a corner from the midfielder well but his header was straight at Alexander.

Dunfermline were almost camped in Livingston territory and had two more near things when, firstly, Ryan slipped at the final moment when trying to connect with Craigen's cross at the back post, and then Clark just failed to beat Alexander to Craigen's ball after good work from Vincent to hold it on the left.

The referee, having missed a poor tackle by former Falkirk man Lee Miller on Ryan and a clear block by Nicky Cadden on Williamson as he attempted to support the run of McManus, was then on the spot for the game's big moment in the 70th minute.

Ryan was again in the wars, this time the victim of a high, late and reckless challenge by Thompson, who could have no complaints at being shown a straight red card.

Johnston then withdrew his battered and bruised frontman to give on-loan Wolves winger Dan Armstrong his debut, and he quickly showed some neat feet to move inside and pass to Craigen, whose shot was comfortably held.

Dunfermline continued to press but the Livingston defence held firm, with many balls into the box cleared from danger.

A Beadling effort from range, blocked shots by Jason Talbot and Williamson, followed by another from the on-loan Sunderland midfielder failed to really trouble the hosts as the Pars were forced to settle for a frustrating point.

Livingston: Alexander, Lithgow, Halkett, Gallagher, Thompson, Pittman, Byrne, De Vita, Cadden, Miller, Hardie.

Subs: Robinson, Longridge, McMillan, Mullin, Boyd, Buchanan, Maley.

Pars: Robinson, Williamson, Ashcroft, M'Voto, Talbot, Craigen, Beadling, Vincent, Ryan, McManus, Clark.

Subs: Morris, Wedderburn, Armstrong, Cardle, Shiels, Aird, Gill.

Referee: Greg Aitken.