THE attention should have been on football but the spectre of financial woe inevitably wafted into view.

The Dunfermline Athletic squad are the latest group of players in the Scottish game to find their thoughts turning to matters in the boardroom and not the training pitch.

The problems at East End Park are another grim example of the struggles across the country but Jim Jefferies and his squad are doing their bit, mounting a challenge at the top of the Irn-Bru First Division and, on Saturday, progressing to the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup. Their victory over Partick Thistle, the side they trail in the title race, was narrow but hugely significant, with a first half header from Andrew Barrowman all that separated the two teams.

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"When you are training every day and there is a lot going on behind the scenes it is frustrating," Paul Gallacher, the Dunfermline goalkeeper said. "It is outwith our control, we can't do anything about it. All we can do is try and perform when we go on the park. We seem to be doing that at the minute and we are progressing in the cup competitions. We are doing our part. It is maybe a relief when we get across that white line and we don't need to think about anything, we can just focus fully on football."

While Dunfermline can now look forward to today's draw with anticipation, Thistle will return to training this morning and refocus their efforts on winning the first division title. The dismissal of Aaron Muirhead after just 30 minutes proved costly for the Firhill side on Saturday, with a second half onslaught giving them little joy as a hitherto unblemished home record came to an end.

"You could say that we can now concentrate on the league but I am disappointed because we wanted to get a good run in the cup," said Jackie McNamara, the Partick manager. "The way it panned out with the sending off and the way we lost the game, sometimes that happens. But I am very proud of the lads and the way they went about it."