Pars 3 St Mirren 0

Dunfermline climbed back on top of the table after hammering the nine man Saints at East End Park.

Declan McManus nabbed the first goal and sub David Hopkirk, on for the injured Joe Cardle, struck just on half-time.

Callum Morris atoned for his mistake last week with the third goal from a corner and the Buddies lost their composure, with Adam Eckersley and former Par Gregor Buchanan both seeing red near the end.

Allan Johnston opted for the same line-up that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Cappielow with his side determined to reclaim top spot by beating the Paisley men.

A big crowd packed into East End Park for the Championship game of the day and there was a five minute delay to kick-off, although that was more to do with a new turnstile system.

Ex-Par Gavin Reilly had never scored at East End Park but he had a great chance in the second minute when he outmuscled Ashcroft all too easily and ran clear.

The striker dragged his shot wide and it was the Buddies who threatened again, Ian McShane firing a free kick into the wall and the ever dangerous Lewis Morgan beating two defenders before lifting an effort over the bar.

Joe Cardle appealed for a penalty after a tumble in the box, the ref waved aside his claims and the winger's day didn't get any better.

It was a bitter blow for Dunfermline as the top scorer, Cardle has hit six goals so far, limped out of the game with what looked like a hamstring injury.

He was hurt chasing an exquisite pass from Kallum Higginbotham who was superb for Athletic and instrumental in the first goal in the 20th minute.

Nat Wedderburn fired a cross field pass and Higginbotham did brilliantly to win the high ball and head it across goal.

McManus gathered it on his chest and beat Craig Samson from close range to send the home fans wild.

Just seconds later the striker was through again, looking suspiciously offside, but he was stopped in the box by Adam Eckersley and there were half hearted claims for a spot kick.

Hopkirk had replaced Cardle and the sub missed a glorious chance in the 24th minute.

Higginbotham was at the heart of it, winning the ball in his own half and sprinting 60 yards before finding Hopkirk with a superb slide rule pass.

The striker beat Samson but his shot slipped agonisingly wide of the post.

Saints breathed a sigh of relief and Morgan almost made Athletic play, slaloming past three challenges before finding Cammy Smith, who was crowded out as he readied to pull the trigger.

Hopkirk made amends in the 44th minute with an excellent finish.

Higginbotham sent Ryan Williamson to the line and he picked out Hopkirk on the edge of the box, with the striker sending the ball arrowing into the corner of the net.

The visitors brought on striker John Sutton for full back Stelios Demetriou at the start of the second half as they went for broke and he nodded a corner just over the bar in the 47th minute.

Saints pressed and caused some anxious moments but it was Dunfermline who scored in the 56th minute.

Williamson had raced to the line and his cross ran through to Dean Shiels at the back post. His shot was pushed wide by Samson but the reprieve was temporary.

Higginbotham's front post delivery was met by Morris who guided the ball into the net from close range.

Nicky Clark swivelled in the box and sent an acrobatic effort over the bar, after Ashcroft had helped on a corner, and Dunfermline still had to defend with Saints pumping high balls into the box and Jack Baird thumping a drive just past the post.

Morgan then ripped a free kick that almost caught out Sean Murdoch in the 68th minute but Athletic looked to be in control.

McManus had a deflected drive shoved round the post by Samson and Baird then picked up a booking after the striker raced past him on the wing.