Dunfermline piled more pressure on United boss Csaba Laszlo as they avenged last season’s play-off elmination at Tannadice.
Having already been eliminated from the Betfred Cup after the group stage, Laszlo’s team’s efforts mirrored much of the previous futile campaign.
“The pressure is always on Dundee United as everyone expects us to win so this is such a painful start,” reflected Laszlo afterwards. “When you go in 1-0 at half-time you have to be far more clever in managing the game after the break.”
Nicky Clark, the former Dunfermline striker, had given the hosts a messy 44th-minute lead, only for Joe Thomson’s 59th-minute equaliser to peg the hosts back prior to Jackson Longridge’s 67th-minute header which was followed by brother Louis Longridge’s clincher six minutes from time.
Dunfermline duly deserved all three points and, without the weight of expectation hanging over them like yesterday’s opponents, Allan Johnston’s side appear capable of mounting their own push for promotion.
No fewer than eight new signings featured in the United starting line-up following a summer of frantic transfer activity aimed at ensuring they don’t spend a fourth successive season in the Championship.
Yet they toiled from the beginning. French defender William Edjenguele was booked early on for downing Faissal El Bakhtaoui, the on-loan Dundee striker, who proved to be a thorn in the hosts’ defence for much of the afternoon.
Then, in 30 minutes, another recent recruit Christoph Rabitsch joined Edjenguele in the book for a late challenge on El Bakhtaoui.
United, though, edged themselves ahead a minute before the interval.
Rabitsch’s free-kick was headed goalwards by Edjenguele. Craig Curran then saw his shot stopped by visiting keeper Lee Robinson, although Clark made sure from the rebound with a point-blank finish.
It was a sweet moment for Clark who celebrated in front of the Dunfermline supporters who’d been jeering him having left the Fifer’s in favour of a move to Tayside earlier this summer.
The second half started with Dunfermline’s Myles Hippolyte attempting an audacious 50-yard effort having spotted Matej Rakovan off his line and the Slovakian did just enough to tip it over the bar. United substitute Fraser Aird’s cross was then met by Yannick Loemba, but he couldn’t direct his header on target from inside the six-yard box.
The visitors, though, levelled in 59 minutes. El Bakhtaoui laid the ball into the path of Thomson who steadied himself and drilled a low left-foot shot past Rakovan .
Buoyed by this, Dunfermline surged ahead soon after. Thomson’s cross eluded the entire home rearguard allowing Jackson Longridge to loop a header back across Rakovan and into the far corner.
Victory was sealed in 84 minutes. Louis Longridge picked up possession and skipped past two despairing United challenges and simply placed his shot outwith the reach of helpless Rakovan.
“Our reaction to going a goal behind was brilliant and I felt we blew them away in the end,” said Johnstone afterwards.