Comment: Dundee United steady ship at Dunfermline but fall further behind leaders

United player Paul McMullan tries to skip past Jason Talbot of the Pars.

Dundee United had to steady the ship after being all at sea at Falkirk and they achieved that with a 0-0 draw.

Sod’s law, however, ensured that despite battling to a decent point against Dunfermline at East End Park there is now more clear, blue water between the Tangerines and Championship leaders St Mirren.

The Buddies can’t be called runaway leaders just yet but they have opened up a commanding eight-point advantage and will be hard to stop now.

United boss Csaba Laszlo had limited himself to just three changes following that 6-1 battering by the Bairns the previous Saturday.

Defender Mark Durnan returned from injury, Paul McMullan was back from suspension, while Danish frontman Emil Lyng was given his first start in tangerine. Paul Quinn dropped to the bench, while Brandon Mason and James Keatings were both injured.

The Pars had skipper Callum Morris back in alongside Jean-Yves M’voto in the heart of their defence.

The game was keenly-contested without there being a lot of silky football on show.

The Tangerines’ best chance came in the 77th minute when frontman Lyng, just yards shy of goal, headed over from a Willo Flood cross. There was also almost a late goal from M’voto when he sliced a Jamie Robson cross over his own bar.

The Pars had more near-things than the visitors, with Michael Paton’s curling shot that went just over and Declan McManus’s attempt that was saved by the feet of United keeper Harry Lewis and the header that was tipped over the bar on 81 minutes among the highlights. McManus then came the closest yet to a winner in stoppage-time, cracking the post with a shot.

Indeed, Dunfermline will feel they should have taken all three points and ended their long winless run against United that stretches back to August 2011.