Stenhousemuir 0-5 PARS

FIVE-STAR Pars returned to winning ways by easing to a comfortable victory at Stenhousemuir this afternoon.

Two-goal Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Joe Cardle, Shaun Byrne and a first Dunfermline strike for Mickael Antoine-Curier secured an emphatic three points that lifts Athletic into second in League One.

Pars boss Allan Johnston named new signing Rhys McCabe on the bench as he made three changes to his starting line-up from last weekend's defeat to Ayr United.

Shaun Rooney, Shaun Byrne and Ryan Wallace came in for injured skipper Callum Fordyce, Josh Falkingham and Michael Moffat respectively but it was a former Athletic striker, Allan Smith, who had the game's first effort inside sixty seconds but Sean Murdoch gathered easily.

Cardle served notice of his intent early on as he blazed a pass from El Bakhtaoui over the bar, but the in-form winger only had to wait until the 11th minute to put his side one up.

Dunfermline worked the ball well from the right to Cardle, who took a touch on to his right foot before sending a beautiful curling shot into the far corner of the net that left Warriors goalkeeper Jamie Barclay a standing spectator.

From then, the Pars took control of proceedings and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead with an extremely well-worked goal 13 minutes later.

A fine move down the right saw Michael Paton release Rooney, whose first time cross was inch-perfect for El Bakhtaoui to head home via the post for his 13th goal of the campaign.

The visitors suffered a blow in the 35th minute when Rooney limped off to be replaced by McCabe after feeling the effects of a block tackle, which meant a switch to right back for Andy Geggan.

There was however no change to the pattern of play and Wallace was unfortunate not to make a better headed connection from Paton's cross after a flowing move involving Cardle and El Bakhtaoui.

A third goal did arrive on the stroke of half-time when Byrne coolly placed the ball into the bottom corner after El Bakhtaoui's blocked shot fell kindly into his path inside the Stenny penalty area.

Dunfermline's authority on proceedings was underlined eight minutes into the second half when they netted their fourth goal of the afternoon.

A great cross-field pass to Geggan saw the auxilery full back head the ball beyond Liam Henderson, who was not strong enough to halt his run into the box, before squaring for El Bakhtaoui to stroke his second of the day beyond the helpless Barclay.

The Warriors were barely seen as an attacking force but Smith was busy up front, testing Murdoch from distance but the Pars keeper held comfortably.

El Bakhtaoui then twice came close to claiming the match ball within the space of a minute; an attempted dink over Barclay from Jason Talbot's centre was gathered by the home keeper who then did well to push a fierce drive from the French-Moroccan over after he showed good feet to create a shooting opportunity at the edge of the box.

Stenhousemuir were unforunate not to pull a goal back shortly afterwards when Mark Gilhaney struck the crossbar with a deflected shot before Stuart Malcolm headed a cross from the same man wide of target.

Colin McMenamin then should have done better than blaze over from around 12 yards after being well picked out in the centre of the goal, but Dunfermline added a fifth five minutes from time.

Wallace picked out the well-timed run of Antoine-Curier to beat the offside trap and confidently round Barclay to score his first goal in Pars colours and wrap up an excellent victory.

Stenhousemuir: Barclay, Meechan, Henderson, Malcolm, Murray, Robertson, Stirling, Millar, McMenamin, Smith, Gilhaney.

Subs: McCormack, McShane, Marenghi, McCroary, Eddington, Mazana, Shaw.

Pars: Murdoch, Rooney, Talbot, Martin, Richards-Everton, Geggan, Paton, Byrne, Wallace, El Bakhtaoui, Cardle.

Subs: Potter, Falkingham, Hopkirk, Moffat, McCabe, Antoine-Curier, Hutton.

Referee: Brian Colvin.