Dundee and Dunfermline lament goalless draw as Raith are the real winners

There was an air of regret around East End Park following the goalless draw between Dunfermline and Dundee.

Liam Fontaine blocks a shot from Dunfermline's Ewan Henderson.
Liam Fontaine blocks a shot from Dunfermline's Ewan Henderson.

Both camps were looking for three points that would aid their Championship play-off hopes significantly. Dunfermline now six league games without a win, are in an awkward spot now as they are out of the all-important top four, trailing Inverness by a point in fifth place. Considering the Pars’ promising start to the campaign, winning four of their first five matches, missing out now would be a bitter pill.

Dundee are five points clear of the Fifers in third place. They have a tough run-in but are well-placed to make it. Their frustration was dropping points in the race for second place, especially given that Raith Rovers picked up a priceless 1-0 win away at Queen of the South. Gozie Ugwu’s first-half goal for the Rovers moves them two points clear of Dundee ahead of them.

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Every team in the second tier has now played 24 games – three remain. Raith, who play Alloa, Dundee and champions Hearts, need just one more win to get a shot at promotion. Dundee have to play Inverness as well as Rovers. Dunfermline and Queens, who aren’t out of it either, clash on Saturday. This league does not lack drama.

"We're in a situation now when it's not in our hands for the first time over the season, but there's going to be twists and turns,” said Pars boss Stevie Crawford. “In a game that we wanted to win, we've come away with a point, a clean sheet against a team that has been free-flowing. I don't want to set any targets other than we've got three massive games of football coming up and we want to win all three."

Dundee manager James McPake also lamented not getting the win. “I am disappointed for the players as I thought they deserved the three points. I thought we dominated the game but we couldn’t find a goal. We had chances and we are disappointed we didn’t take them. We have kept that gap over Dunfermline. It is important to keep that lead with three games to go but we want to finish second.”

Dundee were the more enterprising team and will kick themselves that they didn’t take one of a number of presentable opportunities. As early as the first minute, Jason Cummings failed to get the ball out of his feet with a glaring overlap to his left. In the second period, their finishing was woeful, with a clutch of chances screwed wide or blazed over the bar. Neither goalkeeper was overworked and inaccurate passing made it a tough watch, although Dunfermline could have won it towards the end when Henderson’s goalbound effort was brilliantly blocked by Dundee defender Liam Fontaine.

Charlie Adam – by far the classiest player in either squad – remained on the bench as he tries to rediscover his full fitness. Dundee will hope he is back soon, as his creativity and composure could make all the difference. This was the first time since mid-November that they failed to score in a Championship match. For Dunfermline, any win will do right now. Sapped of confidence, Saturday’s visit of Queens is huge. The business end of the league is well and truly upon us.

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