“Effective if not spectacular!” That was Dunfermline manager John Potter’s conclusion after his Pars kept their promotion hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Stranraer at East End Park thanks to a late goal from substitute Faissal El Bakhtaoui.
Stephen Aitken’s side started the day at the top of the table 16 points better off than their sixth-placed hosts, but Dunfermline looked more threatening early on.
The Pars should have taken the lead in the opening few minutes when Michael Moffat cut back to Shaun Byrne, but the midfielder could not control the ball with the goal at his mercy.
Stranraer were better in the second half. Jamie Longworth had a good chance soon after the restart, stretching to get on the end of a Craig Pettigrew slide-rule pass, but he couldn’t reach it with Pars keeper Ryan Scully prone.
Sean Winter forced a save from Scully at his near post midway through the half, and it looked like the tide was turning.
That was until Potter threw El Bakhtaoui on for Allan Smith for the final 20 minutes.
“We had a good spell after a couple of changes in the second half,” said the Pars coach. “I thought we turned it around a bit. We created good chances and got a good goal.”
The 83rd-minute goal was worth the wait. After Willie Gibson miscued a pass on the edge of the Stranraer box, El Bakhtaoui still danced past three defenders before sliding home his sixth goal of the season to seal a 1-0 win.
“I’ve been at him to shoot on his left foot but he turned back on to his right foot and scored, so what do I know?” joked Potter.
“He was probably a wee bit unlucky not to be playing. He can sit on the shoulder and scores great goals. It was a great finish. Composed.”
Stranraer had won twice at East End Park this season, dumping the Fife team out of the Scottish Cup, as well as picking up a 5-1 win in the league, so this was a tough pill to swallow for Blues coach Aitken.
“I’m disappointed we lost the game but I don’t think there was much between the two teams, if I’m honest. I’ll never criticise a player for trying to play. Willie Gibson tried to make a pass, it went astray and they gathered it and scored.
“That’s the only way I could see them scoring. That’s the only way I could see them being a threat today at all.”
Stranraer are now two points off the pace on second.
“We’re still in a magnificent position and I’m sure they (Dunfermline) would be delighted to swap places with us. We’re disappointed but we’re certainly not downbeat.
“We have to lick our wounds. It’s over to Forfar now. They’ve got top spot and we’ll see how they handle it.
“If somebody said at the start of the season ‘with three games to go you’ll be in with a chance of winning the league I would have bitten their hand off.”