If Dundee expected the new campaign to bring more positivity after last season’s dismal relegation, they will have been given a rude awakening as the Championship got up and running in controversial fashion at East End Park.
The Dark Blues looked set to kick-off their expected title fight with rivals Dundee United with the kind of desperate defeat that characterised last term, but in the end it was Dunfermline who were made to pay the penalty as the points were shared.
Ryan Dow gave the home side a 13th-minute lead that was doubled when Kevin Nisbet struck ten minutes from the break. However, the first of Danny Johnson’s two spot-kicks gave Dundee hope and they roared back in the second half to save themselves and boss James McPake from an opening-day disappointment.
“In the end I’m happy with the point,” said McPake. “Before the game, I said whatever happens I was looking for a performance – and we never got that in the first 45 minutes.
“But I’m happy to get a point out of a game where in the first 45 minutes it didn’t look as if we’d get anything other than a bit of a doing. I’m pleased with the reaction in the second half but it shouldn’t take that.”
The home side roared in front after 12 minutes. Striker Nisbet outmuscled Jordon Forster and lifted his head to find the supporting Dow, who slotted calmly beyond Jack Hamilton. The missiles that were aimed in his direction from the Dundee supporters behind the goal were not what Scottish football needed.
Dunfermline were rewarded for their attacking verve with a second ten minutes from the interval. Dow looped over a cross from the right that should have been claimed by keeper Hamilton but when he missed the ball Nisbet nodded into the empty net.
Nisbet came close to a stunning third for Dunfermline when his magnificent swerving effort crashed back off the junction of crossbar and post and Dundee were given a lifeline moments later when a Cammy Kerr cross struck Dow’s outstretched right arm. Johnson made no mistake from the spot.
When referee Greg Aitken adjudged Lee Ashcroft to have fouled Johnson with 15 minutes remaining there were howls of rage from the home stands and cries of delight from the away support when the marksman successfully despatched his second penalty of the night.
“I’m just frustrated by the manner they got the equaliser, but the positives far outweigh the negatives from the game,” said Dunfermline boss Stevie Crawford.
“I’m just disappointed we never won the game and I think the reaction of the players tells you the story of the second penalty. The boys are very disappointed in the dressing room.”