Dunfermline plummeted to second bottom in the Championship as they succumbed to a sorry defeat to Queen’s Park.
Second-half goals from Jack Turner, former Fifers favourite Dom Thomas and on-loan Celtic youngster MacKenzie Carse put the Pars to the sword after a previously stubborn display.
It leaves the Pars without a win in their last eight matches as they have plunged from a promotion play-off place to a relegation one.
Loud boos rang round East End Park full-time as the home players trudged off the pitch dejectedly with a grim relegation battle ahead.
Mixed injury news for Pars
In a season of injury troubles, and with nine players missing this game, there was more for manager James McPake to contend with for this rearranged fixture.
Recent loan signing Malachi Fagan-Walcott and Craig Wighton both dropped out from the side that was swept aside by Morton 5-0 last weekend due to knocks.
But the return of Aaron Comrie following a calf injury picked up against Queen’s Park at the start of January was a bonus.
The changes meant a return to centre-half again for Ewan Otoo and a place in the heart of the midfield for Paul Allan.
How Dunfermline started this match was crucial.
McPake mentioned during the week the desire to give the home supporters some encouragement after the desperate low of the Morton mauling.
There was clear anxiety in the opening stages, both on the pitch and in the stands.
But, with an obvious message of keeping things simple, the Fifers settled.
A deflected Lewis McCann drive from the edge of the box in the seventh minute was held by Calum Ferrie before Michael O’Halloran burst into the box only to shoot too close to the Queen’s Park goalkeeper.
Midway through the first-half, Ruari Paton threatened but his shot took a touch off Otoo before landing on the roof of the net.
A game of few chances comes alive
There was little to excite either set of supporters thereafter as Dunfermline took the safe – but blunt – route in attack and put their bodies on the line at the back.
But the defensive solidity was broken as Queen’s Park took the lead in the 66th minute.
Stuart McKinstry flung over a cross from the left and Turner rose in the box to glance his header beyond Deniz Mehmet into the far corner of the net.
Just nine minutes later, Thomas again came back to haunt his old club as he curled a sumptuous shot into the top corner from the right apex of the box.
Three minutes into injury-time, Thomas slipped a superb pass through and Carse cut back inside Otoo to slip a cool shot beyond Mehmet.
The confidence had clearly drained from the home ranks well before the third put the icing on the cake for Queen’s Park.
Star Man: Dom Thomas (Queen’s Park)
Thomas was a favourite during his time at Dunfermline and showed why.
His strike from the right edge of the area was magnificent and he followed that up with an assist to lift Queen’s Park up to sixth in the table.
Dunfermline (3-4-2-1): Mehmet 6; Benjamin 6, Hamilton 6, Otoo 7; Comrie 6, Allan 6, Chalmers 6, Edwards 6; O’Halloran 6 (T Sutherland 80 3), Summers 5 (Moffat 58 4); McCann 5 (Holmes 67 3). Subs not used: Little, Fenton, Young, J Sutherland.
Booked: O’Halloran, Benjamin.
Referee: Iain Snedden.