Dunfermline 1 Arbroath 0

SUPER sub Kevin O’Hara struck in the last minute to land a knockout blow on Arbroath in this Boxing Day clash.

Dunfermline looked to be heading for a fourth straight league game without a win, in a match played in driving wind and heavy rain, when the striker gift-wrapped three points for Athletic with a late present.

Visiting goalie Derek Gaston denied Dunfermline on a string of occasions although the Red Lichties had their chances too, hitting the post and forcing Owain Fon Williams into some smart saves.

But it was Stevie Crawford who was smiling at the end as O’Hara climbed off the bench to win it at the death with a close range header.

There was one change to the team who fought back from 3-0 down for a share of the spoils at Dens Park with Iain Wilson replacing Kerr McInroy, who was on the bench.

He was joined on the sidelines by Aaron Comrie who was back fit again after injury.

Athletic hadn’t won in the Championship since that stirring Friday night win over Hearts, they lost at home to Morton and drew with Raith and Dundee on the road, but they did manage a 3-1 win at Arbroath in the Betfred Cup last month.

Dick Campbell’s men were out for revenge and were boosted after their first league win of the season, which came in last Saturday’s home match against Ayr.

Arbroath started well and caused a real scare in the seventh minute when Colin Hamilton strode forward from left back and let fly with a 25-yard drive that thumped back off the left hand post of Fon Williams’ goal.

That was a huge break and Dunfermline almost capitalised in the 14th minute with a well crafted move.

Declan McManus’ cushioned header found Kyle Turner and he picked out Ryan Dow on the right flank.

His superb cross was perfect for McManus and the striker connected with a scissors kick but the shot lacked the venom to beat Gaston.

Dom Thomas showed enough composure to step inside a challenge before trying to rifle in the rebound but the keeper was up quick to block with his legs just as Athletic seemed certain to score.

Dunfermline’s keeper was busy heading towards the break with Luke Donnelly and former Par James Craigen forcing the Wales goalie into saves as the Red Lichties chased an opener.

Thomas and Wilson tried to give Dunfermline the lead, both times Arbroath slammed the back door shut and stood up to whatever the home team could throw at them.

Turner smashed a shot into a forest of legs after a corner bounced his way and McManus took the direct route, going straight for goal in the 39th minute before claiming a foul as he tumbled to the deck in the act of shooting.

With Gaston grounded the follow-up from Thomas didn’t have enough to beat the retreating Arbroath men who guarded the line with Dow and Josh Edwards also having a go at forcing the ball over the line.

Edwards had another sight of goal in the 48th minute after a clever pass from Thomas but the defender hesitated slightly and his blast at goal was deflected wide for a corner.

Turner then fizzed a half volley inches wide of the post, after Thomas tried to fox the visitors by pulling a corner out to the midfielder on the edge of the area, but that killer touch continued to evade them.

Dale Hilson caused panic when he strolled into the Pars box but just couldn’t find space to pull the trigger, with Athletic having to make a series of last ditch tackles as Arbroath scented the chance of an upset.

An excellent pass from McManus almost sprung the trap in the 64th minute with Dow set to race clear but a desperate sliding challenge from Ricky Little rescued Arbroath.

The game swung the other way with Hamilton sending a cross just begging for a touch but Hilson arrived just too late at the back post to supply it as Fon Williams looked on helplessly.

In the 73rd minute Thomas showed his class with a lightning turn to beat his man as he raced into the box, from an acute angle it needed something special to beat Gaston.

The keeper got hands to the ball and it drifted to the back post where McManus just couldn’t stretch to direct a header into the net.

Sub Kerr McInroy almost won it in the 86th minute but Gaston flung out a right arm to prevent the ball finding the top corner.

Just as it looked like the game would end goalless, Edwards swung in the ball from the left and O’Hara planted a header high onto the net.