Queen's Park 0 PARS 2

LEWIS MCCANN'S second half brace lit up the national stadium as Dunfermline secured their second Championship win of the season with a well-deserved success at Queen's Park.

The forward, back in the starting line-up, scored his first league goals of the campaign, taking his total tally to five, to fire James McPake's side to three points at Hampden.

His first came after he was played in by Ben Summers - another star performer for the visitors - and his effort couldn't be stopped by Queen's keeper, Callan McKenna, as it found the net via the far post.

McCann's second was one for his showreel, and one that needs to be enjoyed again on the post-match highlights, as he curled a sublime 25-yard free-kick into the top corner midway through the second period.

It was a dominant show from the visitors who, despite missing some key players through injured, bossed large spells of the match against the side that relegated them in season 2021/22.

That Championship play-off semi-final loss condemned Athletic to the drop to League One, paving the way for McPake to take charge, and the evidence so far suggests they won't be struggling this time as they did in their last second tier season.

"I'd say, in terms of football, we were better in the first half than we were in the second," McPake said.

"We got two goals in second half - we were a bit wasteful in the first half - but credit to the players.

"They were defending as a team from Lewis McCann, Craig Wighton, all the way back to Harrison Sharp. It was a really good, complete performance in terms of that.

"We never really looked troubled. Of course, we're going to have to defend in the last 10 minutes when we're 2-0 up, but even then the centre backs, Sam Fisher, Ewan Otoo, Aaron Comrie, they're heading balls out the box, making clean clearances, and we just looked as if we played relaxed today.

"It was a very good performance."

Ahead of the game, Dunfermline suffered a blow when it was revealed that Kane Ritchie-Hosler, having only just returned from ankle surgery in the draw with Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the start of the month, requires an operation on a knee injury sustained in training.

He has been joined on the injured list by captain Kyle Benedictus, who suffered a fracture in his foot in that game in the Highlands, and Rhys Breen, who has also hurt his knee.

Although he is out of his moonboot, long-term absentee Matty Todd remained out, as did goalkeeper, Deniz Mehmet, who McPake said ahead of the game was likely to return to training in the coming week.

Craig Wighton was, however, fit enough to start, and he was one of six changes to the starting line-up from that which lost at Dundee United in the SPFL Trophy last weekend.

Goalkeeper, Harry Sharp, returned in place of Max Little, who dropped to the bench alongside Owen Moffat, Miller Fenton and Taylor Sutherland, whilst Sam Fisher, Josh Edwards, McCann and Summers also returned to the starting line-up.

Alex Jakubiak, who joined the club last Friday, was amongst the substitutes having played 45 minutes for the reserves on Tuesday, but Paul Allan and Andrew Tod were absent from the squad through injury.

The hosts, who defeated Welsh side, Bala Town, in the SPFL Trust Trophy last weekend, were captained by former Dunfermline favourite, Dom Thomas, whilst Louis Longridge, another who had a spell at East End, was in their starting line-up.

This was Dunfermline's first fixture against the Spiders at Hampden since 2017, when a side managed by Allan Johnston won a Scottish Cup tie 4-1, and a first league meeting - excluding the play-off matches last year - since season 1985/86.

With the vast open nature of the national stadium, a sustained atmosphere from the crowd was always going to be difficult, but the visiting contingent watched their side make a confident enough start - and create the best chances in the first half.

It was they who had the contest's first effort when Summers, after patient build-up play, showed good feet to create half a yard of space around 20 yards out, but Callan McKenna made a comfortable save.

Thomas, who was on the end of one or two boos, tried a deft curler that finished wide for the hosts, before Michael O'Halloran had two efforts blocked at the other end.

McCann was causing Queen's problems and he was at the heart of their next move.

He did brilliantly to burst clear on the right before his ball across the six-yard box was cleared to Summers, who saw a shot blocked behind.

Moments later, McCann was unlucky not to make contact with Comrie's low cross, before forcing McKenna into a fine stop with a free-kick.

Fine work between Wighton and O'Halloran then played Summers in, whose effort was blocked behind, whilst appeals for a penalty from Sam Fisher, as he grappled with an opponent as the corner was played in, were ignored by referee, Scott Lambie.

Opportunities continued to fall Dunfermline's way, with McCann unfortunate to divert wide after another great break and cross, this time through Summers, before Thomas tried his luck with a shot that Otoo blocked, and Jack Turner gave Sharp catching practice with a header.

It remained scoreless at the break but, after being unlucky not to net from a low Wighton ball, McCann did get his goal and give Dunfermline the lead early in the second half.

Summers was again involved, picking his team-mate to the left of the area and, although McKenna got something on his shot, he couldn't prevent it hitting the net via the post.

It was a deserved lead for the Pars, who twice came close through Summers, and once from Edwards, in the moments after opening the scoring.

Jakubiak was then handed his debut on the hour, replacing Wighton, and he won the free-kick that saw Dunfermline double their lead.

From around 25 yards, McCann stepped up and curled an absolutely sensational effort into the top corner, giving McKenna no chance.

Sharp then did well to beat away a Thomas shot as Queen's sought a response, but Dunfermline, as they had been throughout the game, continued to be excellent defensively.

The hosts struggled to find a way through whereas, at the other end, Hamilton wasn't too far away from a third when he drilled a shot wide of the post.

A glancing header from Charlie Fox - lucky to only receive yellow after a poor challenge on McCann - was about all that the Spiders could muster as the Pars saw the game out for a well-deserved win at the national stadium.

Match stats

Queen's Park: McKenna, Robson, Fox, Spong, Hepburn (McPherson 62), Thomson, Paton, Thomas, Healy, Turner (Jarrett 80), Longridge.

Subs not used: Bannon, Bruce, Reid, Fairlie, Waugh, McLeish, Ferrie.

Booked: Thomson (84), Fox (85).

Pars: Sharp, Comrie, Fisher, Hamilton, Otoo, Edwards, Chalmers, Summers (Moffat 73), Wighton (Jakubiak 61), O'Halloran, McCann.

Subs not used: Fenton, Sutherland, Hoggan, McLeod, Little.

Goals: McCann (52, 67).

Booked: Sharp (77), Edwards (89), Hamilton (90).

Referee: Scott Lambie.

Attendance: 1,968.