St MIRREN were second best all afternoon to Dunfermline, who leapfrogged Saints to top the table after a 3-0 thumping at East End Park on Saturday.

Declan McManus and David Hopkirk got the hosts off to a flier, giving them a comfortable cushion at half-time.

Callum Morris made it three after 56 minutes, before both Adam Eckersley and Gregor Buchanan saw red late on as Saints’ afternoon went from bad to worse.

Liam Smith was the only change for St Mirren, manager Jack Ross opting for the Hearts loanee over Gary Irvine.

It was a clash of the highest goalscorers in the league so far, and it looked like there would be goals after a very open start to the game.

Gavin Reilly turned round Lee Ashcroft from Buchanan’s long punt forward two minutes in, but his shot was dragged across the goal.

But Dunfermline began to control the game after, as Kallum Higginbotham flicked on a header to McManus, who fired in from close range to give the Pars the lead.

Saints tried to catch Dunfermline out from a short corner, but it almost backfired. Pars countered, with Higginbotham threading through a lovely ball with the outside of his foot to Hopkirk, whose effort went wide.

Saints were struggling to get a foothold in the game, with Lewis Morgan being St Mirren’s biggest threat down the right hand side.

But Stelios and Eckersley were caught out of position, with Williamson’s cross from the right finding Hopkirk, who made no mistake this time from the edge of the box to fire past Craig Samson.

Ross opted for a formation change to try and fix Saints’ problems, bringing off Stelios and bringing on John Sutton, changing to a 4-4-2.

But 11 minutes into the second half, it was Dunfermline who grabbed the crucial third goal. Higginbotham fired in a corner, and Ian McShane at the front post missed the ball, with Morris bundling in Pars’ third.

The comfortable cushion for the hosts allowed them to sit back and hit Saints on the counter, now chasing the game to get any points from the game.

But a frustrating afternoon got the better of the Saints players, Ecklersley first seeing a straight red, and then less than a minute later Buchanan receiving his marching orders for a second yellow card. The Buddies will be looking to bounce back on Sunday against Queen of the South, kick-off is at 4.10pm