There was no place like home for Dundee United as they showed brains, heart and courage to whizz three points clear at the top of the Championship.
The brains came in the form of Nicky Clark’s clever freekick that bamboozled Dunfermline keeper Cammy Gill to make it 2-0.
The heart came in the form of an excellent comeback display from Jamie Robson at left-back, getting through the final part of the game despite obvious tiredness as a result of a month out injured.
The courage came from the way the United players coped with the pressure of coming off a 4-0 defeat to Queen of the South in their previous fixture.
The victory meant United have won all five of their league fixtures at Tannadice and scored an impressive 20 goals along the way.
There was also the considerable bonus of seeing Lawrence Shankland resume his goal blitz after a couple of dry matches with the ninth-minute strike that settled any nerves in the home camp after that Palmerston pasting.
With a little help from city neighbours Dundee on Friday night, the Tangerines were thus able to move three points clear of second-placed Ayr United.
Now they will carry considerable momentum into tomorrow night’s home clash with Partick Thistle.
Manager Robbie Neilson said: “I was pleased with the way the players responded.
“We have had a difficult few weeks with those two games and negativity comes with that.
“But we showed strength of character, especially in the first half, to pass the ball the way we did.
“We got control of the game, scored two goals and were very comfortable.
“In the second half, the game became scrappy and we didn’t hit the heights we did in the first half but by then the job was done.
“We are just one game into the second quarter so there is still a long way to go.
“It is nice to have a wee bit of a lead (at the top of the table) but we have two games in four days now and things can change quickly.
“There is, though, an opportunity to really put the foot down.
“The Partick game will be massive for us because if we can get a win there then we can go up to Inverness on Saturday in good shape to face one of our main challengers.”
Clark’s freekick, which sneaked in at the near post, was a thing of beauty and Neilson was delighted for a player who had been dogged by a hamstring injury.
He added: “Nicky started the season with us and did really well but just couldn’t get off the mark.
“He then had the hamstring problem and has been desperate to get back.
“He gives us quality next to Shanks and the pair of them have good movement and understanding of the game.
“They could create a great relationship if we can keep Nicky fit.”
Neilson was also asked how good it felt to have his first-choice left-back available again after Robson gave the backline much-needed stability.
He replied: “The last few weeks have been difficult without him because we have had to shift the back four about.
“It never really gave us any balance so we were desperate to get Jamie back in.
“We pushed him quite hard to get there and we was tiring a bit near the end of the game.
“He was flagging but he certainly gave us the quality we were looking for.”
As for the Pars, midfielder Ryan Dow felt they hurt themselves by conceding a preventable goal after making a good start to the match.
He said: “I don’t want it to be another hard-luck story because that has been the story of our season.
“We keep making basic mistakes and getting punished for them, especially when we are on top in games.
“I thought United couldn’t get out for the first five, 10 minutes and we had them in their box and were winning corners and freekicks.
“They then go up and it was a simple error for their goal (keeper Gill flapped at a cross). In the second phase, they crossed it again and Shankland tapped it in.
“That gave them a wee 20-minute lift and it’s just not good enough from our point of view.
“We did have chances, especially in the second half, and hit the bar and I was one on one with the keeper and he came out and did well.
“We need to cut out these errors and if we did then we would be right up near the top end of the league because it’s so tight.
“The first quarter of the season is over and we need to stop dropping all these points.
“We have played all the teams now and I don’t think there is anything in the league from top to bottom.
“Anyone can beat anyone on their day and that has been the case from the start of the season.”
Dunfermline boss Stevie Crawford took some comfort in what was a good second 45 minutes form his players.
He said: “For as much as we are disappointed to come up here and lose I thought the response from the boys in the second half showed there is a belief about us.
“I know we have lost the game 2-0 but we had three good chances after the break: Andy Ryan was very unlucky to hit the bar; Kevin Nisbet had a snap-shot; and the keeper made a really good save from Ryan Dow when he was through one on one.
“We will look to the positive side and say that we gave it a right good go in the second half.
“We now have the Arbroath game on Tuesday night to look forward to.”
The Pars had to replace Lewis Martin at half-time because of an impact injury and Crawford said: “It’s very hard to tell how serious it is.
“It could be one that dies down within a couple of days but there is a fair bit of swelling and he has had to be strapped up.”