PARS 0-2 Dundee United

DUNFERMLINE'S woeful home form continued as they were comfortably beaten by Dundee United this afternoon.

Goals either side of half-time from Paul McMullan and Billy King eased the Tannadice club to victory and left the hosts with just one league win from six games at East End Park.

In that time, they have scored just twice and, throughout the 90 minutes, barely threatened to even go close to improving that record.

In what was an otherwise scrappy opening period that lacked quality or goalmouth incidents, McMullan's header from Fraser Aird's whipped free-kick gave United the lead before Billy King doubled their advantage on the hour mark.

Although McMullan struck the post with a late penalty after being fouled by Ryan Williamson, that could not detract from a comfortable United victory - and another dispiriting home showing from the Pars.

A section of fans, frustrated by another afternoon that saw their favourites create very little, directed their anger towards Johnston as Dunfermline go in to three pivotal games in their season.

After a tough looking trip to Inverness on Tuesday night, they go to Alloa next weekend before hosting bottom club Falkirk, and failure to register wins over the teams immediately below them would heap even more pressure on the Dunfermline boss.

This was a game where the visitors completely deserved their win, were much more threatening and extremely comfortable, but one in which there was a sense they could've stepped it up if they needed to.

The headline news for the home fans was that midfielder Tom Beadling was handed his first league appearance - and just his third this season in total - from the start.

The former Sunderland man, who joined permanently in the summer, had been missing with a thigh problem that first appeared during a win at Falkirk in April.

He was joined in being restored to the starting line-up by Williamson, making his first Athletic appearance since September's home defeat to Inverness, and Myles Hippolyte, with Malaury Martin, Andy Ryan and Aidan Connolly all dropping to the bench after last weekend's late home reversal to Queen of the South.

For the visitors, under the management of Robbie Neilson following Csaba Laszlo's departure, ex-Dunfermline men McMullan and Aird were both given starts, with another, Nicky Clark, having to settle for a place on the bench.

With just one home league win this season, and only two goals scored in the five matches played at East End, Dunfermline went into this game desperate to recapture the form that saw them memorably end a run of 16 games without a victory over the Tangerines at Tannadice on the opening day.

That afternoon will feel like a distant memory at times for supporters, who vented their frustrations at the end of last Saturday's game, and showed promise early on.

Hippolyte created a chance for himself when, after showing good intent to win possession midway in United territory, advanced towards the box before shooting, but Benjamin Siegrist made a comfortable save low to his right.

The visitors' first sign of goal came in the 14th minute when, after Faissal El Bakhtaoui was dispossed on halfway, they worked it wide to Billy King.

His cross was headed out but only as far as Fraser Fyvie, whose well-hit, first-time volley wasn't too far over Lee Robinson's crossbar.

Then, in 24 minutes, disaster for the hosts amid controversy.

El Bakhtaoui appeared to have done well to win back possession on Dunfermline's right, and draw a foul, but referee Steven Kirkland instead penalised the Pars player.

The set-piece was whipped into the area by Aird and McMullan, somehow, had space to head the ball beyond Robinson and into the net.

That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Johnston's side, who lacked impetus throughout much of the opening 45 minutes, with United taking the sting out of proceedings following the goal.

El Bakhtaoui - booked for complaining in the aftermath - was cutting an increasingly frustrated figure as further decisions went against him, while neither he or Hippolyte had much to work with.

But, right on half-time, a long throw from former Falkirk man Hippolyte caused panic in the United box but, after a stab at goal by El Bakhtaoui was blocked, Ashcroft pulled an effort wide of the near post.

Rachid Bouhenna, almost straight from the restart, became the third man booked when he fouled Hippolyte as he chased Jackson Longridge's through pass, but the Englishman could only hit the resultant set-piece into the United wall.

Then, 10 minutes later, there was another controversial moment - and a potential let-off for the home side.

A free-kick was swung into the area by Aird and, while Dunfermline cleared to the edge of the area, McMullan went down under pressure from a home player.

It looked as though he had been bundled over but, fortunately, Kirkland saw what he deemed to be an infringement against the visitors and handed the Pars a free-kick.

But, on the hour mark, Dunfermline suffered a hammer blow - and it came of their own making.

They were in possession but cheaply coughed up possession to McMullan on the left, who had time to pick out King on the far side of the area.

After working the ball onto his left - leaving his marker grounded - he rifled a fierce shot high beyond Robinson from 12 yards, despite the keeper's best attempts to keep it out.

That was the cue for a small section of home fans to vent their anger towards Johnston, with his side offering little in response to either of the visitors' goals.

El Bakhtaoui scooped a harmless shot well over in a rare Dunfermline attempt, before Beadling had a go from the edge of the area but was also off-target.

With 10 minutes remaining, United were given the chance to put gloss on the scoreline when they were awarded a penalty.

Lee Ashcroft, initially, made a great challenge inside the box but, as the ball broke loose, McMullan pounced and was brought down by Williamson.

The wide man stepped up to take it himself but struck Robinson's left-hand post, and the score remained 2-0.

However, it mattered little, as Neilson's Terrors cantered to an easy victory - and add to the pressure on opposite number Johnston.

Pars: Robinson, Craigen, Ashcroft, Devine, J. Longridge, Williamson, Beadling, Vincent, L. Longridge, El Bakhtaoui, Hippolyte.

Subs: Connolly, M. Martin, Thomson, Ryan, Keena, Muirhead, Gill.

Dundee United: Siegrist, Murdoch, Booth, Frans, McMullan, Fyvie, King, Stanton, Safranko, Bouhenna, Aird.

Subs: Curran, Clark, Smith, Rabitsch, Edjenguele, Loemba, Rakovan.

Goals: McMullan (24), King (60).

Referee: Steven Kirkland.

Attendance: 6,349.