A brace by Scott Fraser helped Dundee United defeat Dunfermline, as the Arabs climbed to the top of the Scottish Championship.
Csaba Laszlo was forced into one change as Paul Quinn came into the back four to replace the suspended Tam Scobbie.
Dean Shiels and Fraser Aird were caught in traffic issues and turned up to the stadium late, meaning both had to settle for a place on the bench. Joe Cardle and Lewis Martin came in to replace them while Callum Smith was replaced by Declan McManus up front. Fellow front-man Nicky Clark missed out through injury so Michael Paton came in as the Pars changed formation from their traditional 4-4-2.
Scott Fraser was off-target early on as he fired over while Kallum Higginbotham drilled a shot wide when through on goal as the game started brightly for both sides.
After Jason Talbot made a foul at the edge of the area, United took the lead. Fraser fired home the dead-ball situation, with his left-footed effort too good for Murdoch in the Pars goal.
Dunfermline tried to hit back immediately but Higginbotham scooped his shot over Harry Lewis’ crossbar after McManus cut the ball back from the left.
Paul Quinn then passed the ball back to Lewis who picked it up inside his area, giving Allan Johnston’s men a indirect free-kick. Higginbotham laid it off for Paton but his shot at goal was blocked.
Sam Stanton saw his shot saved by Murdoch while McManus then Martin had efforts at the other end but both were wide of target.
Martin came close soon after though as the midfielder found himself inside the penalty box as Paton floated in a cross; the naturally defensive minded player rose above his marker, forcing Lewis into a smart-stop.
Fraser would then end the half in style for Laszlo’s side as he slotted home after a throw-in which Dunfermline didn’t deal with adequately enough.
United looked to kill the game off as soon as possible at the beginning of the second period but Stanton couldn’t direct his header on target.
Aird came on 55 minutes in, replacing Higginbotham. The Canadians right-sided partner, Ryan Williamson, then put in two good deliveries but Lewis gathered both with options in the middle. Morris then nodded a corner wide as the visitors pushed for a way back into this league encounter.
Fraser was denied again, this time Murdoch beating away the playmakers right-footed dig at goal.
Aird made a strong run into the box and was fouled by Jamie Robson. The full-back was shown a yellow card for the infringement before Quinn got cautioed for delaying the taking of the spot-kick.
McManus stepped up and fired the ball high into the net, beating Lewis who had guessed the right way.
Aird fired a long-distance strike wide as Dunfermline fought for a late equaliser but it wasn’t to come. The Pars remain four in the table, but only on goal difference. United move top of the pile, after St Moreen’s defeat to Dumbarton.
FULL-TIME: Dundee United 2-1 Dunfermline Athletic
25. Harry Lewis
2. Stewart Murdoch
4. Mark Durnan
5. Paul Quinn
17. Jamie Robson
23. Fraser Fyvie
16. Willo Flood (Captain) (William Edjenguele 93′)
10. Scott Fraser (Paul McMullan 90′)
12. Sam Stanton (James Keatings 70′)
11. Billy King
8. Scott McDonald
21. Deniz Mehmet (GK)
7. Paul McMullan
14. William Edjenguele
18. Scott Allardice
19. James Keatings
28. Matty Smith
38. Logan Chalmers
1. Sean Murdoch
2. Ryan Williamson
5. Callum Morris (Captain)
6. Lee Ashcroft
14. Jason Talbot
7. Kallum Higginbotham (Fraser Aird 55′)
15. Michael Paton
3. Lewis Martin
8. Nat Wedderburn
11. Joe Cardle
9. Declan McManus
20. Cammy Gill (GK)
4. Jean-Yves M’Voto
17. Fraser Aird
23. Callum Smith
27. Dean Shiels
Referee: Euan Anderson