Dundee 4 PARS 3

AN astonishing second half fightback from 10-man Pars proved in vain as Dundee ended their winning run after a thrilling match this afternoon.

The visitors, with little more than an hour gone, found themselves 4-1 down, and a man lighter after a red card for Greg Kiltie, but two goals in two minutes set up a grandstand finale.

But, despite their best efforts, they couldn't find a leveller as their three-game winning streak ended, dropping them to fourth in the Championship table.

In an incredible game, an own goal by Danny Devine put the Dees ahead after 14 minutes and, although Ryan Dow quickly levelled, Kane Hemmings and Paul McGowan struck to put the hosts in the driving seat before half-time.

Danny Johnson's close-range finish within 60 seconds of the restart added a fourth for James McPake's team, before Kiltie saw red for a second booking.

That appeared to be that but, with 21 minutes to go, Kevin Nisbet scored his 19th of the campaign to bring Stevie Crawford's men back within two.

Then, astonishingly, Lewis Martin grabbed their third two minutes later to give Dunfermline an unlikely chance to try and snatch a point, but the Dark Blues held on.

Pars boss Crawford made two changes to his starting line-up that saw off Morton last weekend.

Ryan Scully was given the nod in goal in place of Cammy Gill, whilst Lee Ashcroft - substituted in the match prior, at Ayr United, with a head injury - returned at the heart of defence in place of Josh Edwards.

That meant a return to left back for the ever-present Lewis Martin, while club captain Paul Paton was given a seat on the bench on his own return from a period on the sidelines.

The teams' previous meeting this season came on the opening weekend, when two spot-kicks saw the Dark Blues roar back from a two-goal deficit to claim a draw at East End, but the visitors went into this one three places - and as many points - clear of their hosts.

Dunfermline sat in third, after an impressive run of six wins in eight Championship games, including three on the bounce, with designs on trying to close in on second-top Inverness before they travel to the Highland capital next Saturday.

But it was the hosts who were first to threaten, with the Pars indebted to Scully for keeping them level.

With just six minutes on the clock, Jordan Marshall's dangerous ball into the box from the left was headed out to Graham Dorrans.

The former Rangers midfielder checked inside and curled what appeared to be a net-bound shot towards the far corner, but Scully threw himself at it and pushed it superbly behind.

At the other end, slack play in midfield by the hosts gave Dunfermline the chance to break and Greg Kiltie, inside the area with a clear view of goal, struck a shot only for Jordon Forster to make a brilliant block on the slide.

But, from an Athletic corner, Dundee broke and raced into a 14th minute advantage.

Declan McDaid did the ground work, powering forward on the left and supplying a driven low ball that, in a sea of bodies, Devine was unfortunate to slide home in trying to clear.

But, within two minutes, Dunfermline were level and it came through tenacious play by Nisbet in closing down the Dundee defence.

He sent the ball across the box and, in the end, an effort from Tom Beadling towards the far post was seized upon by Dow, who tapped home from close range.

But, in a topsy-turvy opening period, the Dark Blues found themselves ahead again with just 25 minutes gone.

Cammy Kerr this time was the architect, with his cross finding the net of one-time Cowdenbeath hitman Hemmings to cushion a header beyond Scully and into the bottom corner of the net.

If that wasn't bad enough, things got worse 11 minutes from the break when Dunfermline conceded again.

Ashcroft tried to see the ball out for a goal kick but was robbed by McDaid, who squared the ball to Danny Johnson.

Although he mishit his shot, it fell kindly for McGowan, who slammed home at the far post from six yards to give the Dees breathing space.

Hemmings forced Scully into a smart stop to prevent a fourth before the break, while Dorrans fired a speculative half-volley off target as confidence grew within the ranks of the home side.

But, within a minute of the restart, Dundee did score a fourth, seemingly killing off Dunfermline's challenge in the process.

It was another goal that was simple in its design; the hosts moved forward and, after Hemmings had an effort blocked - having taken advantage of an Ashcroft slip - the ball fell right onto the boot of Johnson, who had all the time he needed to pick his spot from 12 yards.

Dunfermline, though, tried to respond and saw Beadling flash an effort high and wide, before Dow saw Jack Hamilton smother a shot on the line as they tried to force the ball goalward from a corner.

Kiltie flashed a drive wide of the far post as they sought a potential ray of light in the Dens darkness, but that was all-but extinguished just after the hour mark when Dunfermline went down to 10 men.

Cammy Kerr had done well to win possession back for the hosts and Kiltie, carded in the first half, caught him late with a sliding challenge that warranted a second booking and a red card.

Undettered, however, Dunfermline launched into a comeback attempt, which began with talisman Nisbet.

He latched on to a defensive clearance and, with plenty of time and space, he picked his spot to fire across Hamilton and in to the far corner of the net.

If that left the door slightly ajar for the unlikeliest of comebacks, it was, incredibly, pushed further open just two minutes later.

They worked it on the right and, after racing upfield to join the attack, Martin picked up the ball at the left-edge of the box and fired into the far corner for his second of the campaign.

All of a sudden, Dunfermline were in with a chance, and the tension and disgruntlement amongst the home fans - whilst Athletic's followers roared their favourites on -was palpable.

But despite their best efforts, which saw sub Paul Paton have a shot blocked, and Aaron Comrie hook one wide overhead in the dying seconds, the Pars couldn't find an equaliser as Dundee held on.

Dundee: Hamilton, Kerr, McGhee, Forster, McGowan, McDaid, Dorrans, Johnson, Robertson, Marshall, Hemmings.

Subs: Meekings, Todd, Byrne, Nelson, McPake, Mackie, Ferrie.

Goals: Devine (OG, 14), Hemmings (25), McGowan (34), Johnson (46).

Pars: Scully, Comrie, Ashcroft, Devine, Martin, Dow, Cochrane, Beadling, Turner, Kiltie, Nisbet.

Subs: Thomson, Morrison, Paton, McCann, McDonald, Fenton, Gill.

Goals: Dow (16), Nisbet (69), Martinm (71).

Red card: Kiltie (62).

Referee: Kevin Clancy.