PARS 3 Partick Thistle 0

BRUCE ANDERSON'S double and a Danny Devine header catapulted Dunfermline to a third straight win and into promotion play-off contention against Partick Thistle tonight.

The on-loan Aberdeen forward poked home his second goal for the club two minutes into the second half to break the deadlock at East End Park.

Former Thistle defender Devine rose highest to head home Athletic's second with 15 minutes to go and, as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, Anderson showed a predator's instinct to be in the right spot to tap in after Ryan Blair flicked James Craigen's cross into his path.

While the visitors might have felt the final scoreline flattered the Pars in what was for long spells, particularly in the first 45 minutes, a scrappy encounter, it was a third win on the bounce for Stevie Crawford's troops - and another clean sheet.

Not only did the victory move the hosts nine points clear of bottom placed Thistle, and second bottom Falkirk, but it moved them to within two points of fourth-top Inverness, who lost at Dundee United.

Crawford and his men could reflect on a fine night's work as they took the acclaim of their supporters after another encouraging performance and result.

After their fine 1-0 win over second-top Ayr United at Somerset Park on Saturday, Crawford made two changes to his starting line-up.

James Vincent, believed to have picked up a training ground injury, missed out entirely to be replaced by Kallum Higginbotham, while Saturday's matchwinner Louis Longridge replaced Aidan Connolly, who dropped to the bench.

For the visitors, there was no East End return for former favourite Joe Cardle.

The winger, who left Dunfermline for a second time last summer after his contract expired to move to AFC Fylde before signing for the Jags in January, was unavailable due to a hamstring problem.

With two successive wins - and two clean sheets - there was renewed confidence in the Pars side against a Thistle side who saw a seven-match unbeaten run in all competitions end with a 4-2 reverse at home to Ross County on Saturday, having surrendered a two-goal half-time lead.

Anderson made some good early running for the hosts - and was unfortunate not to manouvere his way into space 12 yards out after Longridge's lovely centre - but Thistle dished out two quick-fire warnings in the contest's early stages.

Scott McDonald - so often a thorn in Dunfermline's flesh - shot at former Jags keeper Ryan Scully, who then produced a smart block from James Penrice's fine effort from the edge of the area.

The visitors, and Christie Elliott in particular, were having some joy down the right but his cross in the 18th minute eluded everyone but Williamson and allowed the Pars to sweep upfield.

It was a good move, and eventually saw Longridge feed Williamson on the right to centre for Anderson, but the on-loan Aberdeen forward couldn't turn his body fully towards goal and his effort lacked power and accuracy.

Moments later, James Craigen decided to take matters into his own hands with a fizzing effort from range that rippled the sidenetting, but they had an even bigger opportunity in the 35th minute.

After a period of both teams coughing up possession, some patient build-up by Dunfermline eventually saw them find Louis Longridge at the edge of the area.

He played it in for Anderson but, having managed to find some space for a shot at goal, he pulled his effort wide of the far post.

There was a slight moment of panic soon afterwards at the other end as the Pars defence failed to deal with a ball bouncing around the area until Danny Devine, eventually, got his foot to it and they cleared.

If the first half failed to fire, it took the Pars just two minutes into the second to shoot themselves ahead.

A corner from the right was won in the air by Devine, whose knockdown into the six-yard box was seized upon by the alert Anderson, who got there first to poke the ball beyond Conor Hazard and into the net.

The Jags tried to respond, with boss Gary Caldwell sending on Aidan Fitzpatrick for Steven Saunders, and Elliott got on the head of Gary Harkins' inviting set-piece delivery but was never troubling Scully.

There was another dangerous moment as Blair Spittal was blocked out as he tried to find a route to goal from a corner, from which the Pars broke upfield, but Anderson could only send a weak header at Hazard from 12 yards after Higginbotham's clipped ball to him.

Soon afterwards, however, he had a big shout for a penalty turned down by referee Greg Aitken.

A deft flick by Higginbotham sent Anderson racing into the box and, just as he was about to shoot, he went down as Steven Anderson slid in.

He was deemed to have played the ball but there were some loud protests from both the home crowd and players, and it certainly looked like the Pars had a case.

Caldwell then switched his side again, subbing Kris Doolan and McDonald for Souleymane Coulibaly and Lewis Mansell, but his side conceded again with 15 minutes to go.

Great ball-winning by Lee Ashcroft midway inside his own half set the Pars sweeping upfield again and, after being played in by Anderson on the right of the penalty area, Joe Thomson elected to shoot rather than find a team-mate waiting in the middle.

Although Hazard blocked his effort, Ryan Blair's subsequent delivery was met by former Jags defender Devine, who rose highest to send a header looping into the top corner of the net.

And then, with five minutes to go, the Pars put the icing on what was an already tasty cake by bagging a third.

They worked the ball well down the left and, as sub Aidan Connolly's cross was touched on by another substitute, Matthew Todd, Anderson was lurking inside the six-yard box to complete his brace - and a fine victory for Dunfermline.

Pars: Scully, Williamson, Ashcroft, Devine, Craigen, Higginbotham, Beadling, Blair, Thomson, L. Longridge, Anderson.

Subs: Durnan, Connolly, Morrison, Smith, Todd, Muirhead, Gill.

Partick Thistle: Hazard, Elliott, Penrice, Anderson, Spitall, Doolan, McDonald, Harkins, Slater, McMillan, Saunders.

Subs: McGinty, Gordon, Fitzpatrick, Coulibaly, Mansell, Roy, Sneddon.

Referee: Greg Aitken.