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Dunfermline 1-2 Dundee United: Chris Mochrie haunts former club in dramatic finale

Mochrie made a great impact from the bench.

Dundee United's Chris Mochrie scores at Dunfermline
Mochrie slams home his winning goal against Dunfermline. Image: SNS

Former Dunfermline loan star Chris Mochrie climbed from the bench to put his old club to the sword in dramatic fashion as Dundee United’s Championship charge continued.

A share of the spoils looked likely after Owen Moffat had cancelled out Kai Fotheringham’s first-half opener.

But Mochrie would have the final word, smashing home his second goal of the campaign.

United, unbeaten in their last 17 games in all competitions, are now seven points ahead of Raith Rovers at the summit of the second tier, albeit the Kirkcaldy club have two games in hand.

A scrappy opening

One former Dundee striker replaced another in the Dunfermline line-up, with Craig Wighton in for Alex Jakubiak. Michael O’Halloran came in for Lewis McCann from the side that defeated Morton 2-1 last time out.

McCann, in particular, was a surprise omission, having started every Championship fixture for which he has been available this season. Matty Todd was back on the bench for the first time since July.

United boss Jim Goodwin made just one alteration from the Tangerines’ 1-1 draw with Inverness, with Liam Grimshaw recovering from illness to replace Kieran Freeman at right-back.

United enjoyed the better of the fairly scrappy opening exchanges, with Fotheringham seeing a penalty claim waved away by referee Chris Graham and Tony Watt glancing a near-post header over the bar.

Dundee United's Kai Fotheringham is forced to hurdle a Deniz Mehmet challenge
Kai Fotheringham is forced to hurdle Mehmet but saw his penalty claim waved away. Image: SNS

Some last-ditch defending was required by Aaron Comrie to block an audacious close-range back-heel by Glenn Middleton, following a slick move involving Watt and Fotheringham.

A curling effort from Paul Allan warmed the palms of visiting stopper Jack Walton for the first time.

Fotheringham, fresh from being named Championship player of the month for October, passed up a decent chance to break the deadlock when he headed a superb Middleton delivery wide of the post.

The opener arrives

But the precocious winger would not be denied.

A tidy United passing move saw Scott McMann, Fotheringham and Louis Moult all combine to tee up Grimshaw on the edge of the box — and Pars keeper Deniz Mehmet could only parry the ball into the path of Fotheringham, who headed home.

Mehmet’s evening almost went from bad to worse when he slipped as he sought to play a long pass, skewing the ball straight to Moult. However, the United striker’s touch was too heavy and the former Tannadice keeper was able to gather.

A moment of Moffat magic

Mehmet was replaced at half-time, with on-loan Dundee keeper Harry Sharp entering the fray and receiving a predictably tempestuous reception from an East Stand packed with United fans.

Harry Sharp in action for Dunfermline against Dundee United
Harry Sharp was called upon by James McPake. Image: SNS

Whistler Graham waved away another spot-kick claim — this time from the hosts — when McCann, on as a replacement for the injured O’Halloran, hit the deck following a collision with McMann.

Sharp’s first meaningful contribution came when he pushed a Moult header to safety following a delightful clipped Middleton cross.

The Pars took advantage of that reprieve by restoring parity.

An uncharacteristic Sibbald slip allowed Moffat to scamper forward on the break, with Declan Gallagher left defending a two-on-one situation. The big centre-half then also lost his footing, leaving the youngster with a clear run on goal.

And Moffat was nerveless, slotting a super low finish beyond Walton; three goals in two games for the on-loan Blackpool kid. 

Josh Edwards was next to threaten, surging forward and fizzing an effort narrowly wide.

Owen Moffat celebrates finding the net for Dunfermline against Dundee United
Moffat celebrates finding the net. Image: SNS

United were being sprung on the break with regularity and were rocking to an extent rarely seen this term; exemplified when Holt was robbed in possession by Jakubiak. A brilliant block by the alert Walton was required to spare his defender’s blushes.

But it would be United who claimed a dramatic winner.

Mochrie linked up superbly with fellow substitute Mathew Cudjoe, drifting into the box and producing a delightful shimmy before slamming a left-footed finish past Sharp, sparking pandemonium in the away section.

Star man: Glenn Middleton (Dundee United)

Middleton was involved in much of United’s good work in the final third, whipping in a host of dangerous crosses and fizzing a couple of excellent shots narrowly off target.

The winger can count himself incredibly unfortunate not to have claimed a goal or an assist at East End Park.

Player ratings

Dunfermline (3-4-2-1): Mehmet 5 (Sharp 45); Fisher 6, Hamilton 6, Otoo 6; Comrie 6 (Ritchie-Hosler 75), Allan 6, Chalmers 6, Edwards 7; O’Halloran 6 (McCann 22), Moffat 7 (Todd 55); Wighton 6 (Jakubiak 60). Subs not used: Little, Fenton.

Dundee United (4-2-3-1): Walton 6; Grimshaw 7, Gallagher 6, Holt 7, McMann 7; Tillson 6 (Mochrie 70), Sibbald 6; Fotheringham 6 (Cudjoe 60), Watt 6 (Glass 60), Middleton 7; Moult 6. Subs not used: Newman, Denham, Graham, Freeman, Duffy, Stirton.

Ref: Chris Graham

Att: 7,237