Dundee United swept to a victory over 10-man Dunfermline Athletic that eases pressure on manager Peter Houston.

The Pars had Gary Mason sent off for a dangerous challenge after 26 minutes.

But, by then, Paul Dixon had hit the net with a classy volley and set up Lauri Dalla Valle for a simple finish that looked like killing off the game.

Andy Kirk fired a reply after 55 minutes, but Johnny Russell volleyed home 20 minutes later and set up Gary Mackay-Steven seven minutes later.

That ended a run of seven league meetings between the sides without a United victory, Dunfermline's only consolation being Motherwell's comeback against Inverness that leaves Caley Thistle still adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premier League.

Lauri Dalla Valle celebrates

Dalla Valle grabbed United's second goal at East End Park

Houston had gone into the game under a cloud, with showdown talks with chairman Stephen Thompson planned for Sunday in light of speculation over the manager's role sweeping the city.

Houston was forced to switch striker Jon Daly to the heart of defence in the absence of Garry Kenneth, with Russell and Ryan Dow coming into the side in place of the injured centre-half and Barry Douglas.

But the visitors were quickly in control at East End Park thanks to two goals within the opening 20 minutes.

Dow had already fired wide and Paul Gallacher sprawled full length to superbly turn wide a powerful Gavin Gunning free-kick wide before United made the breakthrough after 13 minutes.

Dixon showed great control to half-volley past the goalkeeper after a Willo Flood free-kick was only partially cleared and was at the heart of the second goal five minutes later.

The defender had a go from 25-yards, the ball deflected off defender John Potter and Dalla Valle finished clinically after being left one-on-one with Gallacher.

Dunfermline had been denied the wing trickery of Joe Cardle in their starting line-up, with Craig Easton starting in his place, and manager Jim McIntyre's midfield was further hampered by the exit of Mason.

The experienced campaigner's frustration showed as he went in with studs showing against Russell and referee Stevie O'Reilly was perhaps a little harsh in showing a straight red card as the United striker rolled around injured.

Scott Robertson just failed to get a touch in front of goal as the Pars were relieved to be only two behind at the break.

However, against the odds, Dunfermline dragged themselves back into the game 10 minutes into the second half.

Paddy Boyle won the ball before sending a cross-come-shot into the box, where Kirk fired past goalkeeper Dusan Pernis.

Ten-man Pars were suddenly a team inspired, but after a period of home pressure Russell pounced to volley into the roof of the net following a free-kick fired into the penalty box.

The United forward was suddenly a man inspired and sent another drive against the crossbar, although he ought to have done better than miss with the rebound.

Dunfermine's sense of injustice continued when Daly was only shown a yellow card after a deliberate hand ball and Russell immediately raced clear on the break before setting up substitute Mackay-Steven to roll in the fourth.

Match Stats

Shots

6 15

On target

3 9

Corners

6 8

Fouls

7 2

Live Text Commentary

93:05 Full time

Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.

90:00 +1:32

Stuart Armstrong is caught offside. Paul Gallacher restarts play with the free kick.

90:00 +1:15

The referee blows for offside. Free kick taken by Jon Daly.

87:43

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Paul Burns, clearance by Jon Daly.

87:21

David Graham takes a shot. Jon Daly gets a block in.

86:45

Corner taken by David Graham from the left by-line, clearance made by Keith Watson.

86:28

Willo Flood takes a shot. Paul Burns gets a block in.

83:40

Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven from the left by-line, clearance made by Jason Thomson.

82:46

Scott Allan restarts play with the free kick.

82:46 Booking

Booking Booking for Jason Thomson for unsporting behaviour.

82:38

Foul by Jason Thomson on Willo Flood, free kick awarded.

81:19

Assist by Johnny Russell.

81:19 Goal scored

Goal! - Gary Mackay-Steven - Dunf'mline 1 - 4 Dundee U Gary Mackay-Steven scores a goal from close in to the top left corner of the goal. Dunfermline 1-4 Dundee Utd.

80:13

Patrick Clarke produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, blocked by Jon Daly.

80:13 Booking

Booking Jon Daly is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

79:00

Handball by Jon Daly.

78:18 Substitution

Substitution Stuart Armstrong is brought on as a substitute for Scott Robertson.

77:16 Substitution

Substitution Patrick Clarke replaces Andy Kirk.

76:00

Paul Dixon crosses the ball, Johnny Russell takes a shot.

75:17

A cross is delivered by Willo Flood, save made by Paul Gallacher.

74:01 Goal scored

Goal! - Johnny Russell - Dunf'mline 1 - 3 Dundee U Johnny Russell finds the net with a goal from close range high into the middle of the goal. Dunfermline 1-3 Dundee Utd.

73:33

Scott Allan takes a shot. Corner taken left-footed by Gary Mackay-Steven to the near post,

72:05

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Paul Burns, clearance made by Jon Daly.

70:57

Outswinging corner taken by Gary Mackay-Steven, Header from deep inside the area by Gavin Gunning goes over the bar.

70:43

The ball is delivered by Gary Mackay-Steven, Austin McCann makes a clearance.

69:56

Corner from the left by-line taken by Gary Mackay-Steven, Jason Thomson makes a clearance.

69:08

Indirect free kick taken by Dusan Pernis.

69:08 Substitution

Substitution Scott Allan joins the action as a substitute, replacing Ryan Dow.

69:08

David Graham is ruled offside.

68:00

The ball is crossed by Paul Dixon.

67:08 Substitution

Substitution Patrick Boyle goes off and Steven McDougall comes on.

65:02

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Willo Flood, save made by Paul Gallacher.

65:02 Booking

Booking Paul Burns is shown a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.

63:58

Paul Dixon crosses the ball, save by Paul Gallacher.

62:55

Unfair challenge on Paul Burns by Scott Robertson results in a free kick. The free kick is delivered left-footed by Austin McCann from left channel, clearance made by Gavin Gunning.

61:46

Centre by Ryan Dow, Austin McCann makes a clearance. Inswinging corner taken by Willo Flood from the left by-line, clearance made by David Graham.

60:21

Corner taken right-footed by Paul Burns from the left by-line, Dusan Pernis manages to make a clearance.

58:43

The referee penalises Gary Mackay-Steven for handball. Alex Keddie restarts play with the free kick.

57:20 Substitution

Substitution (Dunfermline) makes a substitution, with Ryan Thomson coming on for Craig Easton.

57:05

Effort on goal by Johnny Russell from just outside the penalty area goes harmlessly over the target.

56:47

Centre by David Graham, comfortable save by Dusan Pernis.

54:42 Goal scored

Goal! - Andy Kirk - Dunf'mline 1 - 2 Dundee U A goal is scored by Andy Kirk from deep inside the penalty box to the bottom left corner of the goal. Dunfermline 1-2 Dundee Utd.

53:56

Austin McCann crosses the ball, Jason Thomson takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.

53:22

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Paul Burns, clearance by Keith Watson.

52:08

Direct free kick taken by Jon Daly.

52:08 Substitution

Substitution Gary Mackay-Steven replaces Lauri Dalla Valle.

52:08

Andy Kirk concedes a free kick for a foul on Ryan Dow.

49:14

Andy Kirk sends in a cross.

47:20

The ball is crossed by Jason Thomson, Jon Daly manages to make a clearance.

46:54

Johnny Russell is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Paul Gallacher takes the indirect free kick.

45:26

Ryan Dow takes a shot. Save made by Paul Gallacher.

45:01

The second half begins.

45:00 +0:59 Half time

Half Time The referee blows for half time.

39:58

Paul Dixon delivers the ball.

39:20

The ball is delivered by Ryan Dow, Keith Watson takes a shot. Paul Gallacher makes a save.

37:12

Ryan Dow produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.

36:50

A cross is delivered by Paul Dixon, blocked by Jason Thomson.

36:03

The ball is swung over by Keith Watson, save made by Paul Gallacher.

34:51

Scott Robertson takes a shot from inside the six-yard box clearing the crossbar.

34:01

Free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Easton on Johnny Russell. Direct free kick taken by Willo Flood.

33:22

Outswinging corner taken by Willo Flood, David Graham makes a clearance.

33:13

The ball is delivered by Keith Watson, David Graham gets a block in.

32:34

A cross is delivered by Paul Dixon, Austin McCann makes a clearance.

28:52

Handball decision goes against Ryan Dow. Paul Gallacher restarts play with the free kick.

27:21

Paul Dixon produces a cross, Austin McCann makes a clearance.

25:01

John Rankin takes the direct free kick.

25:01 Dismissal

Dismissal The referee shows Gary Mason a red card for violent conduct.

24:55

Foul by Gary Mason on Johnny Russell, free kick awarded.

23:47

David Graham produces a cross, clearance by Jon Daly.

23:20

Jason Thomson crosses the ball, clearance by Gavin Gunning.

21:49

Shot from just outside the box by David Graham misses to the right of the goal.

17:25 Goal scored

Goal! - Lauri Dalla Valle - Dunf'mline 0 - 2 Dundee U Lauri Dalla Valle gets on the score sheet with a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Dunfermline 0-2 Dundee Utd.

13:49

Lauri Dalla Valle fouled by Andy Kirk, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Dixon.

12:13 Goal scored

Goal! - Paul Dixon - Dunf'mline 0 - 1 Dundee U A goal is scored by Paul Dixon from inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Dunfermline 0-1 Dundee Utd.

11:47

Free kick awarded for a foul by Patrick Boyle on Lauri Dalla Valle. The ball is sent over by Willo Flood,

8:54

Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Paul Burns, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Jason Thomson goes harmlessly over the crossbar.

6:04

Lauri Dalla Valle fouled by Alex Keddie, the ref awards a free kick. Scott Robertson shoots direct from the free kick, save by Paul Gallacher. Corner taken by Willo Flood, Alex Keddie manages to make a clearance.

5:44

The ball is sent over by Patrick Boyle, save by Dusan Pernis.

5:09

Shot by Ryan Dow from just outside the area goes over the net.

2:35

Lauri Dalla Valle gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Potter. John Potter takes the direct free kick.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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