Pars 0 Queen’s Park 0

Dunfermline’s promotion hopes are officially over after this stalemate but there’s still work to be done before they can guarantee they’re safe from relegation.

That’s how crazy this league is that, ahead of kick-off, James McPake’s men still had the possibility of going up – or down.

The point ended any chances of them making the promotion play-off spots – they needed to win all three games and hope Partick or Airdrie lost all of their remaining games, as well as turn over an inferior goal difference.

But they could, albeit very unlikely now, still finish second bottom.

McPake said: "They are a team that is fighting for their lives and so were we. Let’s be honest about it, we can still be caught as well so there is that edginess about it."

A flurry of early chances came the Pars way with Queen’s goalie Calum Ferrie making vital stops to deny Lewis McCann and Chris Kane.

But the Spiders threatened too with Deniz Mehmet pulling off a fine save from Stuart McKinstry’s close range strike in the second half.

Kane could have won it in the final seconds but planted a free header over the bar.

McPake said: "He is walking off apologising. He doesn’t need to apologise to anybody for anything at this football club. 

"Since he has come in he has been outstanding, the way he holds the ball up, the way he brings others into play and the chances that he is getting. 

"It is good that he is hurting but he is experienced, he will pick himself up and knowing Kano he will be back on the scoresheet next week.”

The Glasgow side, in the relegation play-off spot, are six points behind Athletic and could still catch them but their big chance came and went here.

Promotion from here was always a long shot but more than 5,000 fans crammed into East End to see if Dunfermline could make it interesting with a victory.

McPake said: "I think their goalkeeper today, Callum Ferrie, I know him very well because I had him at Dundee, made three or four spectacular saves in the game. 

"He was excellent and that’s why he is in the (SPFL Championship) team of the year.

“Deniz (Mehmet) had a great save in the second half, other than that I don’t think they threatened too much. 

"The edginess was there, we know that, but it could be an important point."

Dunfermline made two changes to the side that lost at Airdrie, with one enforced. Ewan Otoo picked up an injury and dropped out while Joe Chalmers was moved onto the bench.

In came fit again Chris Hamilton, back after a concussion lay-off, and Sam Fisher.

The early signs were good with Josh Edwards doing well to get to the line and standing up a cross for Miles Welch-Hayes to attack but his firm header was booted clear by Zach Mauchin.

Matty Todd then showed strength and skill to hold off a challenge and slide a great pass in behind the away defence for Welch-Hayes to run onto.

He was looking to fire the ball across goal but Kane came short and got his angles all wrong as he thumped it wide of target.

In the ninth minute a super diagonal ball from Fisher arrowed all the way to McCann at the back post but he was under pressure as he got his shot away and Ferrie made a crucial stop.

He saved his side again in the 13th minute as a long throw from Welch-Hayes evaded the red shirts and fell for Kane.

The Athletic hitman swivelled and smashed a half volley down low from a few yards out but the keeper was in the right place to block with his legs.

McCann then had another chance but just couldn’t quite get in the right position to meet an Edwards delivery with his header drifting away from the target.

After such a bright opening, Athletic fell out of it as Queen’s worked their way back into the game, picking up on some slack play in the Pars rearguard.

They were on red alert when Edwards left a low ball across goal and was lucky Mauchin couldn’t make more of it at the back post.

The bobbly pitch then saved Hamilton’s blushes after he lost the ball in midfield and McKinstry tried to cash in, only for a dodgy bounce to take the edge and accuracy off his shot.

Ruari Paton then played a neat ball in for McKinstry to hit first time but Pars skipper Kyle Benedictus had matched the run and a great sliding challenge cleared the danger.

On the stroke of half-time a great move had the home fans on their feet as Todd raced onto a loose ball, played a give-and-go with Kane and raced into the box but, faced with Ferrie to beat he thundered the ball just over the bar.

Pars were careless in possession at the start of the second half, Kane’s poor control gifting Queen’s a good attacking position, but he made amends by racing back to win the ball.

Malachi Fagan-Walcott then needed treatment after being flattened as he tried to turn a cross home at the near post. The ref gave a goal kick.

Welch-Hayes mistimed a header at the back post, the ball hit off his head and bounced harmlessly over, and Athletic came knocking again on the hour.

A flick on by Kane saw McCann scampering in on the left but just as he pulled the trigger Alex Bannon got across to make a crucial block and stop the ball finding the net.

Play raced to the other end and Paton rifled an effort over the bar.

Mehmet then pulled off a tremendous stop as McKinstry let fly from close range but the Pars goalie made the save and held on.

A swift counter attack, after Dunfermline cleared a corner, saw Edwards switch the play for Todd who ran from halfway but he couldn’t escape from Louis Longridge who took the ball when the midfielder couldn’t get a shot away and crumpled to the turf.

Ferrie denied the home attack again in the 70th minute, although he didn’t seem to know much about it as McCann’s flashing header saw him in the right place again to get his gloves on the ball at the second attempt.

There was a flashpoint in the 75th minute when Hamilton brought down McKinstry just as the Queen’s man threatened to burst into the box.

The ref booked him – the away fans and players wanted a red card – and Paton’s free kick whistled just over the bar.

The boss reckoned a booking - rather than a red card - for Hamilton was the right call and added: "I thought we should have had a penalty for the boy’s challenge on Malachi Fagan-Walcott.

"I have seen that back. It is a hard one for the ref to call but I don’t think the Queen's player takes the ball at all and his shoulder hits off of Mal."

Pars were under the cosh as the clock ticked down and a shoddy attempt to play offside allowed Longridge to arrow a shot at goal which Mehmet beat away at his front post.

In the last minute Kane could have won it after a long throw into the box, a bit of pinball and it floated to him at the back post but he sent his header over the bar.