Dunfermline Athletic remain winless in the Championship – but turned in a vastly improved showing to claim a 0-0 draw against leaders Inverness.
With the pressure mounting on boss Peter Grant following a dismal run of results, the Pars became the first side to take points off the Caley Jags this term.
The stalemate also marks the Fifers’ first clean sheet under Grant, achieved courtesy of an organised, gutsy showing; the sort of which some supporters feared he could not oversee.
Indeed, but for ex-Inverness attacker Nikolay Todorov passing up a glorious late chance for Dunfermline, they would have emerged victorious.
Ringing the changes
Often criticised for being wed to a style of play and too loyal to players who are struggling for form, Grant illustrated a willingness to ring the changes.
On-loan Dundee United defender Ross Graham was replaced by Vytas Gaspuitis as the Pars fielded a solid back-four.
Kai Kennedy started in place of Leon Jones, with Dunfermline switching to a 4-4-2.
Positive first period
And the hosts started brightly.
They immediately appeared more comfortable; snapping into tackles, pressing and harrying. There were no massive gaps to be exploited on the break.
Indeed, Grant’s charges were inches away from claiming the lead when Gaspuitis flashed a header wide from a super Josh Edwards corner.
As one would expect from a side with a 100 per cent Championship record prior to their arrival, Inverness were not without an attacking threat.
Owain Fon Williams produced a stunning block to deny a low Robbie Deas shot following an ugly scramble in the box, with the big Welshman getting his left foot to the drive.
When the clock hit 24, it represented the longest Dunfermline had gone in a league match without conceding.
Half chances for Todorov and Kennedy — the latter following a magical mazy dribble — followed, while Aaron Doran cleared the bar with an effort from the edge of the box.
Guts over guile
The second half was high on perspiration but low on inspiration.
But talk of Grant ‘losing the dressing room’ seems premature based on the tireless graft and crunching tackles of those in black-and-white.
Drives by Billy McKay and Tom Walsh fizzed just past Fon Williams’ post.
And Dunfermline finally carved open the Caley Jags back-line with 13 minutes to play.
Craig Wighton surged down the flank and found Todorov with a wonderful cross, only for the big Bulgarian to head straight at Mark Ridgers from six yards.
A final opportunity came and went when Ridgers parried a Wighton shot to safety in the dying embers.
However, the relatively warm reception the Dunfermline players received from their supporters at full-time, despite the Pars remaining at the foot of the table, spoke volumes. This was progress; a start.