Queen’s Park 1 Dunfermline 4: Pars striker eyeing return to Hampden

Nicky Clark is only too well aware of the importance of the Scottish Cup to Dunfermline, who last got their hands on the famous trophy 50 years ago.

The Pars striker got an early feel for scoring on the Hampden turf on Saturday as he set the Pars on the way to the fourth round, with the hope of a return trip in May.

Clark said: “We knew they would make it hard for us and we never played anywhere near the level we can in the first half.

“We want to get the club back into the top league, but it would be great to get a run in the cup – it’s massive for the club. We want to push on and do well in every competition we are in.”

The Championship title-chasers were looking for some respite from the league having suffered a dip in form, with just one victory in their last six. They found it, but not before suffering a frustrating first period against their lower league opposition.

Dunfermline had to soak up sustained early pressure from the hosts, but they thought they had opened the scoring after 18 minutes when Kallum Higginbotham swung over a corner which was met by Lee Ashcroft, but his back post header was cleared off the line by Conor McVey.

The Pars had to cope with the Spiders’ pressing game and chances were at a premium early on, but in 33 minutes Declan McManus found space to crack a fierce 25-yard effort which went just wide of the mark.

Queen’s almost took a shock lead in 37 minutes when the impressive David Galt carved an opening down the left, cut inside and curled the ball over goalkeeper Sean Murdoch, but the ball crashed back off the far post.

Three minutes after the restart, Clark headed the Pars in front.

The ex-Rangers front man was left unmarked at the back post after a cross from the right by Joe Cardle, to send a downward header past goalkeeper Michael White.

Clark added: “It was massive to get the early goal and it settled us down a bit.

“Fair play to Queen’s Park, they played to a game plan and we had to break them down.”

The Pars doubled their lead in 59 minutes when Higginbotham laid the ball off for Jason Talbot to lash the ball home from 20 yards, but four minutes later Queen’s pulled a goal back when Galt’s free-kick from the left deflected in off the luckless Ryan Williamson’s shoulder for an own goal.

The tie was wrapped up in 79 minutes when White failed to hold a shot from Aaron Splaine and fellow substitute Andy Ryan followed up to net.

Dunfermline netted a fourth a minute from time when McManus drilled the ball low into the net from 18-yards.

Spiders’ coach Gus MacPherson said: “I couldn’t ask for more from my players. We had chances and there was a lot to be pleased about.”