James Craigen scored Dunfermline’s first goal in four games and the playmaker’s free-kick was enough to breathe fresh life into the Pars’ Championship play-off hopes following a seven-game winless run.

The former Partick Thistle and Falkirk attacking midfielder curled a well-placed set-piece around the wall and into the corner of the net after just five minutes.

The victory moves the Fife outfit, who have a game in hand, within four points of fourth place Morton, whom they host on Saturday.

The first half was an edgy affair among both teams who were bereft of confidence following their respective barren spells.

Caley’s only victory from five matches prior to last night was the win that sealed the club’s passage to through to the Irn Bru Cup final.

The second period lived up with Caley forward Aaron Doran having a shot saved by Lee Robinson before Craigen had a first time effort pushed behind by Mark Ridgers.

The Inverness keeper did not cover himself in glory after twice misguiding crosses but the former Hearts trainee pulled off an impressive save to keep out a ferocious Kallum Higginbotham drive.

The visitors’ evening went from bad to worse in the dying stages when assistant manager Brice Rice was dismissed from the dugout by referee Kevin Clancy.

Dunfermline: Robinson, Williamson, Martin, Morris, Ashcroft, Craigen, Vincent, Higginbotham, McManus, Clark

Substitutes not used: Gill, Aird, Shiels, Armstrong, Wedderburn, Lochhead, Ryan

Inverness CT: Ridgers, Tremarco, Chalmers, Warren, Polworth, Doran (Elbouzedi 71), Vigurs, Oakley, Mulraney (Bell 71), Harper (McKay 4), Seedorf

Substitutes not used: Esson, Trafford, Mackay, Brown

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Attendance: 2,249