Dundee Utd 0-1 Dunfermline

Paul Burns stole the three points as Dunfermline Athletic continued their unbeaten return to the top flight with a late winner against Dundee United.

Goalkeeper Paul Gallacher had been the hero for the Pars with a superb triple save to deny Jon Daly, Willo Flood and David Robertson in the first half.

Johnny Russell and John Rankin squandered chances for United after the break and Gallacher saved from Flood.

But Burns pounced on a Joe Cardle cross to fire home five minutes from time.

Gavin Gunning had been handed his first start for United, the former Blackburn defender replacing Keith Watson as manager Peter Houston re-organised a defence run ragged in last weekend's 5-1 hammering by Celtic.

Paul Burns celebrates
Burns (top) scored the winner for the Pars at Tannadice

Dunfermline re-arranged their own defence, perhaps signalling their intent by dropping John Potter to the bench despite the defender's successful appeal against a red card and bringing in winger David Graham.

However, the Pars were rarely seen as an attacking force in the early stages as United were given plenty of room to build from midfield.

Willo Flood took the opportunity to unleash a powerful drive from 30 yards, but it was straight at goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.

While Dunfermline started to settle, United remained the more incisive and Barry Douglas headed wide from 12 yards.

Martin Hardie flicked a header wide from a similar range at the other end, but that was Dunfermline's only effort on goal during a first half during which United inched closer and closer to an opener.

United responded positively and Jason Thomson's last-ditch interception denied Johnny Russell in front of goal then Barry Douglas and Jon Daly threatened with headers.

Dunfermline required a quick-fire trio of saves, each one better than the next, from Gallacher to stay level.

After blocking from Jon Daly at the front post, the goalkeeper athletically punched Willo Flood's resulting goal-bound corner off the line and, when Scott Robertson pounced on the floated clearance to volley from 20 yards, the diving Gallacher stretched out an arm to touch the ball on to the face of a post.

Dunfermline were failing to track runners into their penalty box and this time it was John Rankin who headed wide for Dundee United.

United continued to be the dominant force after the break and Russell should have done better than blast over from 14 yards.

Flood seemed intent on scoring direct from a corner and forced another desperate punch off the line by Gallacher.

Rankin curled an effort wide on the turn with United in almost complete control.

The Pars only fleetingly threatened and set-piece expert Martin Hardie curled a free-kick just wide then headed over at the back post.

It looked like the sides would have to settle for a point apiece until Cardle's low cross fell to Burns, whose daisy-cutter of a drive from just inside the box found the corner of the net.

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