St Mirren 2 Dunfermline 0

DUNFERMLINE’s play off hopes were given a huge blow thanks to a three minute spell which saw Dunfermline lose two goals and go down to ten men.

It had been a fairly fairly evenly matched tie until shortly before the 70th minute when a heavy tackle by Jason Talbot ended in referee Nick Walsh pointing to the spot and giving the Pars defender his marching orders for his second yellow card.

The decision changed the game and saw St Mirren take the upper hand and there was no way back for Allan Johnston’s men.

Athletic made just one change from his last starting eleven two weeks ago with Andy Ryan making way for the young Daniel Armstrong.

The Pars started off brightly in a first half which delivered few clear cut chances.

Daniel Armstrong nearly silenced the home support in the first minute when he found himself with the ball unchallenged in the box however his shot went wide of Craig Samson’s post.

The Pars looked dangerous again on the five minute mark when the busy Vincent put a ball into Nicky Clark but he saw his effort go wide too.

St Mirren started to make an impression on the game and great work from Ryan Flynn resulted in him putting a dangerous ball into the box and it looked like M’voto was going to put it into his own net however it sneaked out for a corner.

Flynn continued to cause problems and the Pars defence was carved open a minute later however the ball was cleared.

On the 17th minute, St Mirren had another chance when a Talbot foul resulted in a free kick on the edge of Robinson’s box however Magennis curled his set piece over the bar.

A minute later, Robinson came to Dunfermline's rescue with a spectacular save. A long range shot looked to be heading towards the back of the net however the keeper appeared to hang in the air long enough to tip it over for a corner.

Dunfermline unexpectedly found themselves nearly going ahead just before 40 minutes when a back pass seemed to fluff over Craig Samson’s feet but trickled along the line before being cleared.

The home team seemed to pick up the pace at the start of the second half and came close three minutes after the restart when Kyle Macgennis was gifted the ball from Ryan Williamson. His shot bounced off Robinson before he was able to collect it safely.

The Pars had the best chance of the match on 55 minutes when good work from Armstrong picked out Craigen in the box but, unchallenged , his attempt went into the side netting.

Saints’ Cameron Smith went on a strong run and it looked like he was going to bag the first goal when he slotted past Robinson but, to the delight of the 327 Dunfermline fans, he also slotted past the post.

After 65 minutes, Nicky Clark thought he was through on goal however the referee spotted his push in Gary Mackenzie’s back and the attack finished with a St Mirren free kick.

The game changed direction minutes later when the ball Kyle Magennis swung the ball in and Jason Talbot found himself in a tussle with a Saints attacker and saw the referee point to the spot.

The Pars player seemed hurt in the challenge however it didn’t stop him picking up a second yellow card and having to leave the pitch.

Harry Davis stepped up to slot his penalty right through the middle into the back of Robinson’s goal.

Dunfermline hadn’t had a chance to recover and were hit again when Liam Smith hit a beautiful snapshot from the edge of the box straight through the Pars defence and into the net.

Alan Johnston brought Callum Morris and Lewis Martin on, putting Williamson further up the field however Saint Mirren remained the dominant side to claim all three points to put them 11 points clear at the top of the table.

St Mirren: Samson, McGinn, Mackenzie, Magennis (McShane 86), Smith, Flynn, Reilly (Hippolyte 84), Davis, Smith, Mullen (Baird 79), Eckersley.

Subs: Stewart, Demetriou, Sutton, Hill.

Goals: Davis (69), Smith (72)

Dunfermline: Robinson, Williamson, Talbot, M’Voto, Ashcroft, Craigen (Martin 70), Beadling, Vincent, Armstrong (Cardle 56), McManus (Morris 74), Clark.

Subs: Gill, Wedderburn, Higginbotham, Ryan.

Referee: Nick Walsh

Attendance: 4240