Alan Johnston’s sides rarely disappoint when it comes to thrills and spills at either end, but even he would surely prefer to find a more sedate way of claiming three points as some of the defending here fell into the strictly bonkers category.
In the end it still amounted to a vital win for the Fifers to put a halt to a sequence of poor results while at the same time leaving St Mirren, who last week parted company with manager Alex Rae, rooted to the bottom of the Championship.
“The boys showed a lot of character coming from behind and given the run they’ve been on,” said Johnston with a mixture of satisfaction and relief that Dunfermline had twice come back after having been in arrears. “Their heads could have gone down, but they kept on going forward and they got their reward at the end of the game.”
It became apparent early on that this game was a graffiti spray-paint version of the art of defending and the brittle confidence of both sides after their respective recent reverses was at times painful to see.
The visitors were on the back foot early on but somehow managed to clear their lines, while the hosts’ rearguard was all over the place as they presented John Sutton with two gift-wrapped first-half goals.
The first arrived as a sloppy clearance allowed Saints’ Lewis Morgan to nip in and cut the ball back to Sutton, whose side-footed finish crept over the line to put his side ahead.
Although Nicky Clark levelled the scores with a header, Sutton grabbed his second only minutes later as Callum Fordyce afforded him far too much space to pick his spot with a drive from the edge of the box.
Sutton could so easily have been laying claim to the match ball immediately after the break as he sent a header just edging past the post as Sean Murdoch in the Dunfermline goal looked on. Fair play to Johnston’s men, though – they just kept piling forward with frenetic intent. It wasn’t always easy on the eye, but it got them the goals as the visitors’ luck finally began to run out.
The score was levelled again when the ball ricocheted off Andy Webster following Scott Gallagher’s point-blank save from Gavin Reilly and the Pars took the lead for the first time when an ill-judged attempt at playing the offside trap by the Saints rearguard left Clark with space to slot home his second of the match.
Given what had happened prior to this it was no surprise that this encounter didn’t go out with a whimper and the celebrations of the home fans were quickly muted as Ryan Hardie lashed in a blistering drive to make it 3-3.
There was still time for one more defensive howler, however, as Kyle Hutton’s miscued passback was pounced on by Farid El Alagui to finally settle it in the home side’s favour.