Dunfermline Athletic 0-4 Partick Thistle

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Just when they thought it couldn’t get much worse, Dunfermline suffered a painful mauling yesterday with Partick Thistle threatening to run amok after scoring all four goals in a crushing opening 45 minutes for the Fifers.

SCORERS: Partick Thistle - Craig 4, 23, 33; Forbes 15

Steven Craig helped himself to a hat-trick as the visitors closed in on Morton at the top of Division One and the sinking feeling that presently engulfs the financially-stricken East End Park club continues to spread.

There has been little or no respite from the gloom over the last week for the Pars, with their players’ frustration at receiving only part payment of their wages becoming increasingly high profile. Likewise signs of supporters’ discontentment with the current stewardship of the club was laid bare yesterday by a number of banners, including one imploring fellow Pars fans to “Support the players and staff – not the Board”. After the game a group gathered to chant “Sack the Board” outside the main entrance to the stadium.

But, despite his sympathies for the players over their plight, Dunfermline manager Jim Jefferies, right, was in no mood to excuse their lame first-half performance. “We’ve all got our gripes and thoughts about the situation, but you’ve got to go out there and play with a bit of heart and spirit,” he fumed. “To be fair, we didn’t let them score any more in the second half but the damage was all done in the first half because we didn’t turn up. That was just unacceptable.”

With morale at East End Park hardly at its best, the last thing the hosts needed was to get off to a bad start. In fact it was worse than that – calamitous is the only way of describing it. It took less than five minutes for brittle self-belief amongst the home players to begin to crack after a woefully soft opening goal for Thistle which saw a corner drift unchallenged into the six-yard box and leave Craig the simplest of tasks to prod it over the line.

The roof well and truly caved in with three further first-half goals for the visitors – arriving, like trains, at regular intervals.

Ross Forbes added a second with a shot from over 25 yards which didn’t seem to carry that much pace but somehow eluded Paul Gallacher.

Then Craig laid claim to the match ball at half time with two further well taken goals, although probably even he would admit that the Pars rearguard was in a state of near complete disarray by that point.

The second 45 minutes were, by contrast, a subdued affair, with the visitors settling for what they already had and notably saving Craig for another day by withdrawing him at just under the hour mark.

That there was no further punishment inflicted on the hosts was probably the only bit of light relief they had felt all week.