DUNFERMLINE were made to pay the penalty in an opening to the Scottish league season that will have whetted the appetite for the months ahead – and raised concerns over Dundee’s ability to bounce straight back up to the Premiership.

The Dark Blues rescued a point thanks to Danny Johnson’s spot-kick double but they could, and in truth probably should, have been dead and buried during a first half entirely dominated by the home team.

Ryan Dow gave them a 13th-minute advantage that was doubled when Kevin Nisbet capitalised on a goalkeeping error from Jack Hamilton 10 minutes from the break.

However, the first of Johnson’s penalties proved crucial on the stroke of half time as Dundee roared back in the second period and saved themselves and manager James McPake from kicking off the new campaign with a defeat.

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“In the end I’m happy with the point,” said McPake. “Before the game, I said whatever happens I was looking for a performance – and we never got that in the first 45 minutes.

“But I’m happy to get a point out of a game where in the first 45 minutes it didn’t look as if we would get anything other than a bit of a doing. I’m pleased with the reaction in the second half but it shouldn’t take that.”

East End Park bristled with excitement and nervous tension as the teams emerged to a red-hot atmosphere. The positivity of the large Dundee support was not matched by a willingness to forget local rivalries, however, with Dow and fellow former Dundee United player Paul Paton roundly booed and pilloried every time they touched the ball for Dunfermline. It was that kind of occasion and they had every reason to target the excellent Dow.

The home side roared in front after 12 minutes of early sparring. Striker Nisbet had no right to gain possession on the left but he outmuscled Jordon Forster, who went to ground too easily. There was no selfishness thereafter either, with the summer signing lifting his head and finding the supporting Dow, who slotted beyond Hamilton. As he ran away to celebrate, missiles were aimed in his direction from the Dundee supporters behind the goal. New season, same problems.

Dunfermline sensed blood and poured men forward, and were rewarded with a second 10 minutes from the interval. Aaron Comrie and Dow combined at a throw-in on the right and the latter looped over a cross that should have been claimed by Hamilton. However, the Dundee goalie missed the ball and Nisbet was on hand to nod in.

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From being outperformed throughout, Dundee were handed a lifeline. With seconds left in the half, a Cammy Kerr cross struck Dow’s outstretched right arm and referee Greg Aitken pointed to the spot. Johnson bypassed Ryan Scully’s outstretched right hand from the spot to pull a goal back that the Dens Park men scarcely deserved.

When Aitken enraged the home side by ruling Lee Ashcroft had fouled Johnson with 15 minutes remaining, there were no complaints from the visitors as the former Motherwell marksman drilled in the equaliser.

“First of all, let me give the players credit,” said Dunfermline boss Stevie Crawford. “We asked them not to leave anything in the tank and in the first half we were very good in terms of the football we played and the energy and creating chances. We scored two really good goals and could have had more.

“I’m just frustrated by the manner they got the equaliser, but the positives far outweigh the negatives from the game. I’m just disappointed we never won the game. I think the reaction of the players tells you the story of the second penalty. The boys are very disappointed in the dressing room.”