PARS 3 Inverness 1

DUNFERMLINE got their Championship season off to a flying start with a comeback victory over Inverness Caledonian Thistle this afternoon.

Nikolay Todorov's second minute goal gave the Highlanders the advantage but Euan Murray, with his fourth of the season, levelled midway through the first half.

Ryan Dow's first of the season with 12 minutes to go, and Declan McManus' first since returning to the club in the summer six minutes later, sealed victory for the home side.

It was a hard-fought clash, with both teams evenly matched in the first half, but the Pars created the better chances after the break to extend their winning run to four games in all competitions.

Following Tuesday night's Betfred Cup success at Kilmarnock, Stevie Crawford made three changes to his starting line-up.

With Steven Whittaker suspended, Aaron Comrie returned at right back, while Owain Fon Williams and Ryan Dow were both restored as Cammy Gill and midweek's two-goal hero, Fraser Murray, dropped to the bench.

For the visitors, Kevin McHattie, formerly a youth player with Dunfermline, started but two other ex-Pars - Danny Devine and James Vincent - were amongst the substitutes.

With three wins from three Betfred Cup games, confidence was high amongst Crawford's men but they faced an Inverness side that had won all four of the clubs' previous meetings - including both at East End last season.

And it was they who made the perfect start with just two minutes on the clock.

It was well-worked by the visitors as Daniel MacKay, down the right hand side, sent over a superb cross that Todorov met, centre of goal eight yards out, to rifle into the roof of the net and give Fon Williams no chance.

The stunned hosts then tried to respond and, following a quickly taken corner, Dow sent over a cross that McManus got his head to, but the ball went over the top.

Thomas, so pivotal in Dunfermline's start to the campaign, showed good feet on the left before whipping over a tantalising cross that flashed across the six yard area.

Both Dow and Kevin O'Hara attacked it, but the former couldn't get enough on it to direct a header towards goal.

Todorov's afternoon lasted only 20 minutes when, after taking a knock in a challenge with Murray, he was forced off to be replaced by midfielder Vincent, who spent a season and a half at East End.

But, midway through the first half, Dunfermline hit back and it was their main combination for goals so far this season that struck again.

After Wallace Duffy did well to turn Kyle Turner's delivery to the back post behind, Thomas' corner found Murray who, from around six yards, sent a powerful, downward header beyond Mark Ridgers for his fourth goal in three games.

It was a good reaction from the home side and they nearly tuirned the contest on its head on the half hour mark.

A sliced clearance towards his own goal by McHattie was blocked by a Caley player and Iain Wilson pounced on the loose ball, but could only fire over.

The game, as is often the case between these two, was hard-fought and keenly contested in the middle of the park but Inverness did have another sight at goal before the break through Sean Welsh, but he sent a low shot with the outside of his boot wide from around 20 yards.

O'Hara then had an opportunity early in the second half to stretch the Inverness defence when he was released by Thomas.

With McManus making up ground into the penalty box to support, the former Alloa striker made his way into the area and chose to check back onto his right foot for a shot, which was blocked behind.

This time O'Hara was the creator for the Pars' next effort as, after being sent scampering down the right, crossed low to the near post from the goal line.

McManus was there, and connected first time, but Ridgers blocked well with his legs.

Moments later, Thomas burst forward towards the edge of the box - with O'Hara and Turner in support - but his effort was deflected just wide of goal.

The match continued in a competitive vein and, just past the hour mark, a free-kick just inside Caley's half was conceded by Welsh on O'Hara.

Turner's deep delivery was met by Paul Watson, but he couldn't direct his header on target.

Moments later, Fraser Murray entered the fray in place of O'Hara before Inverness were causing concern at the other end.

A corner swung into the Pars box wasn't claimed by Fon Williams initially but, as the ball fell to MacKay, the Welsh keeper made a good block to deny the winger.

Play was soon back up the other end with Thomas, who did well to break forward and pass inside to Dow, who couldn't quite wrap his boot around the ball enough for the right-foot curler to the far corner.

But, with 12 minutes to go, the former Dundee United man did find the net.

Josh Edwards' deep free-kick to the far post was headed back across goal by Watson.

McManus got a shot away, which was blocked, but Dow was there to pounce on the loose ball and put Dunfermline ahead.

And, with six minutes left, they wrapped it up thanks to a super strike by McManus.

Edwards sent him racing away and, with no-one in support, he did ever so well to hold the ball and his man off him.

The hitman got it onto his right foot and, although it may have taken a slight touch off a defender, sent a super shot into the top corner to get Dunfermline's season off to a winning start.

Dunfermline: Fon Williams, Comrie, Watson, E. Murray, Edwards, Dow, Turner (McInroy 78), Wilson, Thomas, McManus, O'Hara (F. Murray 65).

Subs not used: Martin, McCann, Allan, Mayo, Gill.

Goal: E. Murray (22), Dow (79), McManus (84).

Booked: Wilson (44), Edwards (81).

Inverness CT: Ridgers, Duffy, McHattie, Welsh, Keatings, MacGregor, (Harper 85) Allardice, McKay, Deas, D. MacKay, Todorov (Vincent 20).

Sub not used: Devine, Fyffe, Hyde, Harkness, C. MacKay.

Goal: Todorov (2).

Booked: McKay (88).

Referee: Willie Collum.