“It just wasn’t good enough from us today,” admitted Dunfermline defender Lee Ashcroft after Saturday’s home defeat to second-bottom Ayr United dragged them back into a relegation dogfight.
It was only their second loss in 19 games, but St Mirren’s revival continued with another win, so the Fifers are now just five points clear of the Paisley club.
Ayr boosted their own prospects of survival after Ross Docherty’s scrambled winner gave them their second league win since October.
The home side had already missed a barrowload of chances by the time Docherty scrambled a Brian Gilmour corner over the line early in the second half.
Joe Cardle was particularly guilty and appears to be painfully short of confidence, while Nicky Clark also fired blanks after grabbing four goals against Dumbarton earlier this month.
Michael Moffat could not be blamed after hitting the post with an early angled header before forcing a fine reflex save from keeper Greg Fleming barely 10 seconds into the second period.
“It was just one of those days when nothing went right for us,” said a shell-shocked Ashcroft. “Credit to Ayr, they sat in and defended well, but it just wasn’t good enough from us today and it was one of those games when we never took our chances.
He added: “We need to pick ourselves up and go again at Morton next week, which we know will be an even harder game than today.”
Boss Allan Johnston said: “If we had won today that would have opened up a massive (10-point) gap over Ayr, but it’s very, very tight now at the bottom of the league.”
United keeper Fleming initially seemed to be on a one-man crusade to make life difficult for his team. He completely missed Nicky Devlin’s pass back but his blunder went unpunished, and he also got away with it when he rushed out of his penalty area, leaving an empty net which Cardle failed to find.
Fleming redeemed himself with that 46th-minute save from Moffat.