TEN-MAN Dunfermline held on to frustrate Dundee United in a goalless draw in the first Scottish Premiership play-off.
Neither side was able to gain an upper-hand on a night when the goalkeepers reigned supreme at East End Park.
After being forced onto the back foot for much of the game, the visitors dominated the last half hour after Lee Ashcroft was shown a straight red card, but United were unable to make their man advantage count ahead of the second leg on Friday.
Deniz Mehmet and Lee Robinson pulled off several stunning saves between them to frustrate the forwards, while Dunfermline also hit the bar in the first-half.
It was an open start between two in-form teams, but it was hosts Dunfermline who were on the front foot in the early stages but struggled to make an impression in the final third.
The only real chance of a turgid first period came when Declan McManus – an early substitute after injury to Andy Ryan – looped a header against the bar after another fine ball from Fraser Aird, but the Tangerines escaped and made it to the half-time break still level in what was a scrappy half of football.
The hosts continued on the front foot after the break and should have taken the lead when Clark failed to connect properly with a free header from six yards out, heading straight at the keeper when he really should have scored.
The lively Aird looked to have finally broken the deadlock after 54 minutes but after cutting in and curling towards the far corner, he saw his dipping effort brilliantly tipped over Mehmet.
The turning point in the game came moments later as Ashcroft was given his marching orders for bringing down Scott McDonald when the forward was through on goal, and from there, the Tangerines gained the upper-hand and would have been ahead but for a sublime save from Robinson.
Scott Fraser had fired wide minutes before a well-worked move down the right saw the ball come out to McDonald, and he thought he had opened the scoring only for the goalkeeper to pull off a spectacular save low to his right.
Not to be outdone, Mehmet was called back into action as Clark glanced a header from close-range that again looked to be heading towards the back of the net only for the keeper to once again claw it out.
Bilel Mohsni headed over before seeing a volley saved and Anthony Ralston had an effort cleared off the line as the Pars held on to take the tie into Friday’s fixtures at 0-0.
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