Pars 1 Dundee United 3

DUNFERMLINE were knocked off the top of the Championship after their bright start to the season was dimmed by Dundee United this afternoon.

Fraser Fyvie and Scott McDonald handed Ray McKinnon's side a two-goal first half lead before the former's stunning strike added a third on the hour mark.

The Pars have, rightly, received huge plaudits for their start to the season but it just didn't happen for them on a day that United's clinical finishing, and ability to snuff out their attacking threat, won the day.

For Ray McKinnon, this was a perfect away display - they were set up to be hard to break through, led by the impressive central defensive duo of William Edjenguele and Mark Durnan - and took their chances when they arrived.

Athletic got themselves into some promising positions throughout, particularly on the right side, but their final delivery was all-too-often dealt with well while they weren't able to seriously test visiting keeper Harry Lewis.

Unsurprisingly, Allan Johnston named an unchanged starting line-up from the team that won a Brechin City last time out, while Paul McMullan - who enjoyed a productive time on loan with Dunfermline last season - started in midfield for the visitors.

A huge crowd turned up at East End Park for this clash between the table-topping Pars, with 24 goals in seven league games, and third-placed United, who began the day just two points adrift.

McMullan was, harshly, on the receiving end of a few boos in a scrappy start, although Kallum Higginbotham did force a corner on the right in the opening minute only for it to come to nothing.

It was a scrappy opening; the Pars were struggling to make the ball stick in the final third and, despite plenty of crisp passing out from the back, United struggling to fashion any opportunities themselves in the opening 20 minutes.

There was a half-chance in the 20th minute for the Pars when David Hopkirk, on the left, found Declan McManus inside the area.

Although the hitman was blocked out, the ball fell for Higginbotham on the edge of the box but, with the ball bouncing up, he struggled to control the shot as it ended off target.

In the 28th minute, McManus carved out a chance for himself when he robbed Willo Flood on the left edge of the area, but couldn't generate enough power as Harry Lewis made an easy save.

Ryan Williamson sent an effort over and then, out of nothing, United took the lead.

Dunfermline were caught out on the left side as the visitors worked the ball to Jamie Robson, whose cross was pushed out by Murdoch only for Fyvie to slot home the loose ball.

Callum Morris was then booked for clattering Jordie Briels as frustration began to creep into the home side in the latter stages of the half before McDonald joined him for a petulant foul on Jason Talbot.

Athletic, particularly on the right, were working the ball into some good areas and delivering into the area, but Mark Durnan and William Edjenguele were all too often first to them.

However, two minutes from half-time, Dunfermline's day got even worse when United doubled their lead.

The awarding a free-kick on the right was questionable, however they didn't deal with the ball whipped into the area as it fell six yards out for McDonald, who poked home with ease.

The game was almost put beyond the home side on the stroke of the interval when United broke from a Pars corner and had four men versus the Pars' two.

Talbot made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny McMullan but the ball broke to Billy King, whose deflected shot hit the bar before Athletic scrambled clear.

Johnston reacted to the 2-0 deficit by hooking Hopkirk in favour of Callum Smith, moving McManus to a wider role, as Dunfermline sought to find a route back into it.

There was almost a glimmer when Morris' header from a corner was dropped by Lewis before United scrambled it clear but, on the hour mark, they killed the game.

It was a moment of quality from the impressive Fyvie who, stationed at the edge of the area, sent as sweet a strike as you'll see flying beyond the helpless Murdoch and into the top corner.

It was a terrific goal and one that deflated the home side but, to their credit, they kept going as best they could.

In the 74th minute, they worked a move well to allow Smith a shot from range that was deflected behind, but outwith that United were content to keep the ball.

But, with 13 minutes to go, the home side pulled a goal back with a well-taken far-post header from McManus' cross from the left.

Lee Ashcroft then dropped a header onto the top of the net from Higginbotham's free-kick as Dunfermline aimed for a late rally, and Nat Wedderburn attempted a first-time shot from range but couldn't hit the target.

Substitute Andy Ryan also had a go but, in keeping with the match, was blocked as Dunfermline continued to try and push for another goal, but it wasn't to be their day as United leapfrogged the hosts in the table.

Pars: Murdoch, Williamson, Ashcroft, Morris, Talbot, Higginbotham, Wedderburn, Shiels, Hopkirk, McManus, Clark.

Subs: Martin, Aird, Splaine, Lochhead, Ryan, Smith, Gill.

Dundee United: Lewis, Durnan, Edjenguele, Robson, McMullan, Flood, Fyvie, King, Keatings, McDonald.

Subs: N'Koyi, Fraser, Stanton, Allardice, Mehmet, Smith, Davidson.

Referee: Don Robertson.

Attendance: 7,585.