Match Report

Despite the disappointment of defeat at Stark’s Park seven days earlier, manager Jackie McNamara kept faith with the same starting eleven for the visit of Falkirk as Thistle remained unchanged for the third game in a row.

In the previous home game against Morton Thistle opened the scoring in the game’s opening minutes through Stephen O’Donnell and O’Donnell was close to again providing Thistle with an early advantage. Aaron Sinclair’s cross from the left was cleared only as far as O’Donnell who shot wide of target.

There was little between the two teams in the opening quarter of this game. Farid El Alagui saw a chipped effort clear the Thistle bar while at the other end a Kyle Hutton effort was blocked by a Falkirk defender.

In the 27th minute Thistle came the closest yet to opening the scoring. Kris Doolan was able to meet Sinclair’s cross and his header looked destined for the back of the net but just as the Thistle fans in the 2,851 crowd were getting ready to acclaim Doolan’s fifth goal of the season, the ball rebounded off the post.

The Falkirk keeper McGovern was beaten by Doolan’s header but he was able to save Paul Cairney’s effort at his near post 6 minutes later as Thistle continued to edge proceedings.

Two minutes later they fell behind. Farid El Alagui has been in excellent scoring form throughout the season and he was again on target in this game. It was an easy finish for the Falkirk striker who was able to head the ball home from about a yard out after the ball had been chipped across the Thistle goal.

The Thistle response to the loss of a goal was positive with David Rowson coming close with a shot from the edge of the box after being set up by Paul Cairney but too often Thistle were guilty of taking a touch too many when in good position in and around the Falkirk box.

The action came fast and furious at the start of the second half with Falkirk coming close to doubling their advantage only to find the game tied at 1-1 in next to no time.

Murdoch’s effort from 25 yards out smacked the top of the Thistle bar on its’ way over. Play quickly moved to the other end with Stephen O’Donnell’s pace taking him deep into the Falkirk box and his shot bounced off the base of the post. It was but only  a temporary reprieve for Falkirk though, the ball falling invitingly into the path of David Rowson who lashed a shot past McGovern and into the net.

That goal took Rowson’s tally for the season to three and there was almost a fourth in the 56th minute when his shot was blocked with the appeals for a handball and a penalty loud and persistent.

Thistle were doing all the pressing at this stage but in the 62nd minute Falkirk were able to catch Thistle on the break and Murray Wallace was close to punishing Thistle to the full with a curling shot that went just a fraction wide of Scott Fox’s left hand post.

That was the signal for Falkirk to assert themselves more on the game and Kieran Duffie was denied a goal only by the fingertips of an alert Scott Fox.

In the 65th minute Thistle made a double switch with Chris Erskine and Tommy Stewart replacing Stephen O’Donnell and Kris Doolan. Erskine’s first involvement in the game came close to nudging Thistle in front but he found his route to goal blocked by a Falkirk defender.

Ten minutes later it was the turn of fellow sub Tommy Stewart to come close to a goal. Thistle broke forward with pace with Paul Cairney spotting Stewart’s run to his left. Against Morton, Stewart had scored from a similar position but this time he lifted his shot over the bar.

Falkirk were searching for a winning goal too and Chris Erskine was in just the right spot to head a Weatherston cross behind for a corner as the Thistle goal came under threat.

In the 84th minute Falkirk did take the lead. Alan Archibald was penalised for a foul 25 yards from goal and Kallum Higginbotham sent the free kick past Fox and into the net for an excellent goal.

A Conrad Balatoni long range effort that McGovern was grateful to clutch hold of looked being Thistle best response in the time that remained but with the clock touching the 90 minute mark Thistle drew level. McGovern wasn’t able to hold a cross and when the ball dropped to Chris Erskine he smashed the ball high into the net. 

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