Csaba Laszlo, the Dundee United Manager, watched his side surge back to the top of the Championship, before expressing sadness that they hadn’t done it in more style.
The Tangerines now lead rivals St Mirren by a point in the race for the flag after Scott Fraser’s first-half double put them in firm command at Tannadice before Declan McManus’ 75th minute penalty for the Pars made for a nervy ending.
United endured a miserable 1-1 draw away to basement boys Brechin the week before but here they got back to winning ways as they looked like a side hungry for a return to the Premiership while off-form Dunfermline are now five league games without victory.
“I’m just a little bit sad that in the first-half we didn’t score one or two more goals,” said Laszlo. “If you are more clinical, then you make your life a lot easier.
“Look at Sam Stanton’s header early in the second-half. If that goes in it’s 3-0 and it gives us a bit more breathing space.”
United began brightly and duly went ahead in 15 minutes. Jason Talbot brought down Fraser 22 yards from goal and up he stepped to send an exquisite left-foot free-kick curling over the Dunfermline defensive wall and into Sean Murdoch’s top corner to heat up the home fans on a freezing day on Tayside.
Fraser was in full flow and struck again three minutes before the interval. With the hunger of a player intent on doing damage, the 22-year-old ran on to a throw-in from Jamie Robson before evading two defenders and thrashing his finish across Murdoch and into the far corner.
In 51 minutes, Stanton seemed set to kill the contest when he met Billy King’s inch-perfect cross, but the midfielder nodded back across goal instead of towards it with the goal at his mercy.
Dunfermline did give themselves some hope in 75 minutes. Jamie Robson’s challenge on substitute Fraser Aird led to the spot-kick, and McManus oozed confidence the way he sent home keeper Harry Lewis the wrong way, but it was too little too late.
“Poor mistakes are killing us just now,” said Allan Johnston, their manager, afterwards.