It was a match in which the Pars defended with their backs to the wall throughout but, in truth, the Tangerines blew it, wasting a host of good chances.
Despite their pressure, the Tangerines lacked that cutting edge and they were fortunate on the half hour when Jim Hamilton turned David McCracken in the box only to curl the ball over from 12 yards out, while on the stroke of half-time the ex-United striker kept Derek Stillie awake with a weak effort.
After being pole-axed in the closing seconds of the first period, United's Jon Daly was brought to the ground in the box again just after the break, but the fastidious Dougie McDonald waved away appeals.
The big striker, who was always in the thick of things, became the cardinal sinner though in the 65th minute when he was given space at Stuart Duff's corner but headed over from only seven yards. Then ten minutes later, he flicked on Criag Conway's free-kick only to see it brush past the post.
Dunfermline looked in every way a team struggling, content to park themselves in their own half as the Tangerine pressure continued.
Another Duff corner was headed on by McCracken for Lee Wilkie to outjump two Dunfermline defenders, but he too was frustrated, nodding the ball past the post when it appeared easier to hit the target.