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St Mirren the winners at East End Park as Dunfermline and Dundee United draw blank

Csaba Laszlo and Allan Johnston shake hands.
Csaba Laszlo and Allan Johnston shake hands.

Dunfermline mascot Sammy the Tammy tried to cheer everyone up with his Irn-Bru antics pre-match but neither the Pars nor Dundee United were laughing at full-time.

The reason was that both sets of players came off the East End Park pitch to find out that they had fallen even further behind Championship leaders St Mirren.

The second-placed Tangerines are now eight points off the top, while the Pars languish 15 behind the Buddies in their third spot.

Therefore, you had to conclude that this hard-fought, goalless affair did neither team any good.

The fizz appears to have gone out of the promotion title race.

Indeed, the combination of this draw and the Buddies’ 2-0 victory at Dumbarton left some suggesting that you’d be as well unfurling the flag in Paisley now.

Yet, there was some solace for United in emerging from a challenging contest with at least some of their pride restored just a week after their Falkirk drubbing.

They showed plenty of character, as well as enjoying the greater share of the possession.

For the home side, there was consolation to be found in going four matches unbeaten as well as securing a third clean sheet in a row.

Also, the Pars created the bigger and better chances, with striker Declan McManus probably left wondering why he hadn’t scored a hat-trick.

Dunfermline mascot Sammy the Tammy gives his thoughts on the new changes to Irn-Bru

He had a header tipped over the bar, was clean through on goal but was thwarted by keeper Harry Lewis’s legs and, in stoppage-time, struck the United post with a shot.

That last-gasp bit of fortune meant a great deal to Lewis, who produced a fine display on the back of shipping six against the Bairns.

The Tannadice goalie, though, admitted that a draw wasn’t ideal when taking St Mirren’s win into consideration.

He said: “It was certainly an improvement and was better than last week but it still wasn’t the result we wanted.

“We knew it was a big game and we have kept a clean sheet, which I am happy with.

“But we need to start picking up wins and stringing a good run together.

“It has been a difficult week.

“After a result like that (at Falkirk) you go away and look at yourself in the mirror.

“You think about what you could have done differently.

“That was the first time I had lost six goals.

“I got a lot of messages after the game but I like to deal with things myself.

“My mum texted and told me to keep my chin up but you don’t really want to hear that after the game.

“You just want to be on your own and get over it.

“I have gone over it a million times in my head and on video.

“I’ve spoken to the goalkeeping coaches here and the goalkeeping coach at Southampton.

“I think I have closure now.

“We tried to put it right against Dunfermline and while there is room for improvement we were solid at the back.

“I made a couple of saves and kept a clean sheet, which is good for the team.

“That is a platform we can build on heading into next Saturday’s game (in the Scottish Cup away to Alloa).”

United’s Billy King (right) in action against Ryan Williamson of the Pars.

Meanwhile, home midfielder Nat Wedderburn felt the Pars probably did enough to deserve more from the match.

“We were solid, like we have been in the last few games,” he said.

“There weren’t many chances against us.

“The only thing we could have done better was to put the ball in the back of the net.

“That’s all it needed because I thought we were pretty comfortable.

“Being at home we want to win all our home games and with the form we were on we were confident we could get the win.

“Maybe Dundee United’s result last week wasn’t ideal for us because we knew they would try and come here and prove a point but it was unfortunate we couldn’t get the win.”

As for trailing so far behind the Buddies, Wedderburn added: “We will keep going and there are a lot of games still to play.

“I think the play-offs are the minimum we are aiming for.

“We have St Mirren in a couple of weeks and if we can get a win there you never know what might happen.

“I know it is difficult in this league but if we can get five or six wins on the bounce we surely won’t be far off.”

United boss Csaba Laszlo, like most people, didn’t seem sure if this was a good or bad result for his team.

He said: “I was not happy but I was not unhappy either.

“I think we must be more clinical, especially with the Emil Lyng header being the biggest chance in the game.

“We lacked a killer instinct.

“But I must say that the draw was a fair result for both sides.

“It was a tough game.

“We didn’t control the midfield the way I would have liked.

“Sometimes we lost possession very easily, especially when trying to play little, threaded balls.

Dunfermline’s Jason Talbot tries to catch Paul McMullan of United.

“We were playing against the side in third position and for us it was very important that, after a very big defeat last week, that the team showed character.

“It was also very important that we didn’t lose the game.

“On the other hand, we want to hunt down St Mirren and there are 15 games to go.”

So what about now being eight points worse off than the Buddies?

Laszlo replied: “Look, it is not nice – that’s clear.

“This season is not finished.

“After the Falkirk defeat, it was easy for nobody.

“So I am proud of our fans because once again, after that result, they filled the stand today.

“They tried to push us on during many periods of the game and we must be very, very thankful for our fans.

“I hope that at the end of the season we can give something back.

“There are still 15 games to go and we don’t think each one will be a winning game for St Mirren. I don’t think so.

“For example, they have to come to Dunfermline and that won’t easy.

“Every time has ups and downs.

“We have a game in hand against Queen of the South and St Mirren have to come to Tannadice also.

“We have to win these games though – definitely.”

Pars manager Allan Johnston, like Wedderburn, felt the hosts deserved more than just a point.

He said: “There wasn’t much between the teams in the first half but after that we had the chances.

“Their keeper pulled off a lot of good saves and we were unlucky not to record the victory.

“On another day Declan could have had two or three goals. He has scored a few recently and will be gutted he didn’t add to his tally.”

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