ATHLETIC head coach Stevie Crawford was pleased with the "positive reaction" his side showed in Saturday's draw with Hearts and believes it can give them a psychological boost.

After a difficult week in which they threw away a two-goal lead to lose at Dundee, then go down 5-1 at Raith Rovers on Tuesday - a game in which Crawford said he got it "tactically wrong" - they produced a much better performance against the league leaders.

Dunfermline created the better opportunities, with Scott Banks missing the target first half when played in on Jam Tarts goalkeeper Craig Gordon, Vytas Gašpuitis hitting the bar with a second half header, and captain Euan Murray only denied a late winner by the reflexes of Gordon.

The point lifts the Pars back into the Championship promotion play-off places with five games to go, but they are five points adrift of second top Rovers, and two behind Dundee, who have played a game fewer.

A first clean sheet in four league matches was also welcome and, speaking after the game, Crawford said: "I said to the boys that tactically I got that wrong (on Tuesday) - I am man enough to say it.

"I am responsible for putting the team on the park, Raith Rovers were very good on the night but equally we turned them over 4-1 here as well playing similar tactics but that doesn’t guarantee you success.

"What I am delighted with it the reaction from the players to go out and play against a team that is probably going to win the league. We had a clean sheet and looked dangerous on the counter attack.

"In the first half we had a number of chances and Vytas hit the bar in the second half and Craig Gordon pulled off an unbelievable save from Euan Murray’s header later on in the game.

"We got a positive reaction and I think the important thing was that we took a point and we end up in the play off positions again. For our mental side of it, it is a positive as well.

"That is the Raith Rovers one away, it will be on my cv for the rest of my management career and it will always hurt but I am a believer in this group.

"Our objective was to get into the play offs and we have got ourselves back on there."

When asked if it was now about looking forward, Crawford continued: "It is about learning.

"When you look at the age of the group of players that we have got in here, it is exciting in think that they have big chunks of their career ahead of them. You can learn from adversity, you can learn from sore ones and defeats but it is a matter of moving on.

"I think they showed today what it meant playing for Dunfermline. There was a pride in them and they were hurting as players as well.

"We have five important games ahead of us to look forward to between now and the end of the season."

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson suggested that Dunfermline "sat in" and "made it difficult" for his team, but acknowledged they have taken another small step towards collecting the league title.

"Today we played against a team who were stuffy, sat in, made it difficult for us to play," he commented.

"We had 12 shots at goal and weren't able to put the ball in the net, but the objective at the start of the season, as we've said right from the beginning, is to win the league.

"We've taken a small step, we'd have liked to have taken a bigger one, but it now puts the game on Friday night full in the headlights. Hopefully we can pick up three points."

Neilson also suggested his team should have had a penalty in the second half, when Gary Mackay-Steven went down, and continued: "We've found it difficult this season with some of the decisions from referees.

"If you've got, especially down that end, 3,500, 4,000 Hearts fans that shout for it, you probably have a better chance of getting it.

"From our perspective recently, it's had to be a decapitation to get a penalty.

"Dunfermline started the game looking to take a point, so they sit in, they try and hit on the counter attack, they make it very difficult for you to get any kind of flow into the game and, although we had a lot of possession and we got into a lot of good areas, the final moment just wasn't quite there.

"We now need to focus on Friday night. We are 11 points clear at the top, with a chance to go a wee bit more again on Friday night with counting the games down."