Arbroath 0 PARS 0

ATHLETIC missed the chance to move into the Championship play-off places after being held to a stalemate at Arbroath last night (Wednesday).

Stevie Crawford's side would have gone fourth with a victory but, after a tough 90 minutes at Gayfield, instead jumped one slot to fifth.

The visitors arrived in Angus on the back of an impressive success over Dundee United on Saturday, but were without two of their starters from that match.

Aaron Comrie and top scorer Kevin Nisbet both hobbled off at the weekend, and missed out completely, while another, Ethan Ross, only made the bench.

Gabby McGill returned up front, while Lewis Martin came in at right back, and Joe Thomson was deployed in midfield.

The Pars were beaten by a single goal on their last trip to play ex-manager Dick Campbell's Lichties back in August, and they were forced into some early rearguard action, with goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams saving from Ricky Little following a Gavin Swankie corner.

At the other end, Dom Thomas drove a free-kick into the wall but chances were at a premium, with a number of fouls and balls in the air taking centre stage.

Dale Hilson fired a set-piece opportunity off-target for Arbroath as the clock ticked towards the half-time interval, before Fon Williams did well to get down and push away Jason Thomson's effort from the edge of the box.

Mark Whatley fired wide five minutes into the second wide for the home side but, following that, Dunfermline began to take better control of proceedings.

Jonathan Afolabi did brilliant work on the right before his cross towards Thomson was cleared and, three minutes later, the visitors had arguably the game's best opportunity.

Euan Murray, excellent at left back, produced a fine delivery into the box to find McGill, but he could only head straight at Derek Gaston from close range.

The Pars continued to find themselves in some decent areas to get the ball into the box but, often when they made the delivery, a resolute Arbroath defence was there to clear.

Bobby Linn fired a free-kick into the wall for Campbell's side and, although both Afolabi and substitute Lewis McCann had efforts for Dunfermline, before a late, fruitless flurry from Arbroath, both teams were forced to settle for a draw.

The result took Crawford's team to within two points of fourth-top Dundee, having played a game more, and eight ahead of second bottom Queen of the South, who visit East End on Saturday.

Arbroath: Gaston, Thomson, Hamilton, Little, O'Brien, Whatley (Donnelly 81), Gold (Craigen 77), Hilson, Swankie (Linn 65), Virtanen, Wighton.

Subs not used: Murphy, Stewart, Kader, Jamieson.

Booked: Little (70).

Pars: Fon Williams, Martin, Ashcroft (Edwards 89), Devine, Murray, Thomson (Ross 77), Paton, Turner, Thomas, Afolabi, McGill (McCann 64).

Subs not used: Beadling, Todd, Fenton, Gill.

Booked: Thomas (16), Afolabi (90).

Referee: John McKendrick.

Attendance: 1,146.