Faissail El Bakhtaoui’s strike two minutes after the break was enough to ensure the points went back across the river Forth to Dunfermline when the Fifers met Stenhousemuir at Ochilview on Saturday.
The French Morrocan will deservedly get the plaudits, but the real hero was, perhaps, at the other end where goalie Ryan Scully performed excellently.
The Pars were under intense pressure eight minutes from the end when a Paul McMullan shot hit the hand of Lewis Martin inside the box and referee Craig Charleston controversially pointed to the spot .
Martin’s hands were by his side and it’s hard to argue that the defender could have done anything to avoid the close range effort, but justice was done when Scully dived to his right to save Colin McMenamin’s spot-kick.
“I looked at his body shape when he approached the kick,” Scully said, “He could easily have hammered it the other way, but luckily enough I had judged it right and I am delighted.”
The save was vital to the East End Park outfit’s ambitions of coming out of the pack to get into the promotion play-off’s and Scully continued, “It was not a great game, but it was a big win for us because we still believe we can achieve the play-offs.
“We have played well enough over the season, but we have lacked the right decisions in the final third.
“We are a match for anybody in the league in most areas and if we can convert our possession into goals from now we can get into the top four.
“This win was an important win and we just have to take it on from here, concentrate on our own performances, win every game and if we do we can still make the play-offs.”
The keeper is not wrong because, not for the first time this season, it was 60/40 in the visitor’s favour in terms of possession, but that was seldom translated into calling home keeper Greg Fleming into action throughout.
Following a first half the Pars dominated without tangible reward, the second period was only twon minutes in when the home defence made a hash of clearing a throw in and as the ball bounced around the penalty area El Bakhtaoui fired a low shot on the turn inside the right hand post.
Stenny laid siege to the visiting goal towards the end and even after Scully’s penalty save last ditch blocks from ‘Muir’s McMenamin and on loan Celt Paul McMullan were typical of the type of performance required to get into the top four.
“The blocks were terrific at the end when we sat back a bit,” manager John Potter said, “We probably panicked a bit then due to recent results, but he lads produced something like they do in training today and with the new shape we introduced I think the next six games when we play the teams around us can be won and give us the opportunity to reach the play-offs.”
Ochilview interim boss Brown Ferguson said, “It was disappointing not to get at least a point, but while we didn’t get a break on the field, we did off it with Ayr getting defeated, a result that keeps us just ahead of them to avoid the relegation play-off spot.”