Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 PARS 0

ATHLETIC'S disappointing season ended with a seventh defeat in eight games at Premiership play-off bound Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Saturday.

A first half goal from Nathan Austin, who took advantage of slack play between Cammy Gill and Stuart Morrison, was enough to settle matters as Stevie Crawford's men ended the campaign seventh in the Championship table.

Although they flirted with a possible fourth-place finish after reeling off five successive wins in February and March, this campaign ended with Dunfermline just three points above relegated Falkirk, scoring just 33 times in the process.

There is little doubt where Pars' problems have been this season and it must be a top priority for Crawford to address if they are to look upwards rather than behind them when the new campaign kicks off in August.

With goalkeeper Ryan Scully ill, Gill was handed his first league start between the posts, while Morrison also made his league bow.

Lewis Martin, who made his first appearance of the season as a substitute against Morton, also came into the starting line-up alongside Kallum Higginbotham as Dunfermline sought to end on a high.

It was a much-changed home side who had the game's first opportunity, with former Par Jordan White glancing a header wide, before Nathan Austin took advantage of a mistake by Danny Devine but shot well off-target.

Former East Fife and Falkirk striker Austin came close once with, heading wide from a Darren McCauley cross, before the visitors finally threatened through Louis Longridge, but he failed to trouble Mark Ridgers in the Inverness goal.

Bruce Anderson, who played his last game before returning to parent club Aberdeen, then tested Ridgers before Ryan Blair had a pop at goal from distance.

But, 10 minutes before the break, a pass from Gill to Morrison was returned at an awkward height for the goalkeeper, whose attempted chest control fell kindly for Austin to simply roll the ball into the net.

Higginbotham tried to respond early in the second half with a decent shot from the edge of the area which was tipped around the post, but clear-cut chances remained few and far between.

There was a first appearance since November for Andy Ryan in the 73rd minute and he almost made an immediate impact, sending a fine effort narrowly off target from 20 yards.

Anderson was out of luck once more as the Pars sought a late equaliser, but it was Inverness who almost wrapped up victory when Tom Walsh broke through, only for Gill to turn his effort onto the post.

There was to be no repeat of last season's 95th minute equaliser at the Caledonian Stadium as Dunfermline left empty-handed at the end of a poor campaign.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle: Ridgers, Rooney, Donaldson (McCart 45), McKay, McHattie, Chalmers, McCauley, Walsh, Trafford (Polworth 65), Austin (Doran 73), White.

Subs not used: McDonald, Harper, Machado, Mackay.

Goal: Austin (35).

Pars: Gill, Durnan, Devine, Ashcroft, Martin, Morrison, L. Longridge (Ryan 73), Craigen, Blair (Todd 62), Higginbotham (McCann 88), Anderson.

Subs not used: Hippolyte, El Bakhtaoui, Allan, Burt.

Referee: Graham Beaton.

Attendance: 2,828.