Saturday 16th August, 2014 at 9:55am
Thistle travelled north to Dundee in a confident mood after a resounding midweek victory over Ross County. Their opponents for their first Saturday game of the season would be newly promoted Championship winners, Dundee, who themselves were unbeaten after two draws. Unsurprisingly manager Alan Archibald named an unchanged team.
Thistle made a fast start and, after just two minutes, should have been ahead. A brilliant cross ball from O’Donnell found the unmarked Bannigan six yards out but he somehow glanced his header just wide of the target.
Thistle didn’t have to wait long for the opener though as, just a minute later, the visitors went ahead. Higginbotham collected the ball wide on the left before cutting inside and playing a pass, his pass found Lawless who laid the ball into the path of Fraser and he rifled a shot from 25 yards into the back of the net, past a helpless Letheren in the home side’s goal.
Thistle continued to press the home team and, after a patient build up, O’Donnell tried a cheeky near post shot from wide which the keeper did well to get down and save. Fraser, Stevenson and Bannigan all saw shots saved by Letheren as Thistle looked for a second goal. Unfortunately it didn’t come and Dundee began to find their feet in the game. McDonald curled a free kick just wide in the 11th minute, although it looked like Fox had it covered.
The Jags were forced into a change when McMillan limped off and young Dale Keenan came on for his league debut after just 15 minutes. Another cross ball from O’Donnell caused more mayhem in the Dundee box and, as McGinn switched off, Bannigan nipped in and only a good save by the home keeper prevented him from scoring.
Fox then made an important save at the edge of his six yard box from a Dundee free kick out wide. McDonald then fired wildly over as the game became a little untidy and scrappy before Harkins let fly with a free kick which was easily saved by Fox. McGowan then produced a little bit of magic out wide and fired a great ball across the Thistle six yard box only to find nobody waiting to apply the killer touch as the Jags went into the interval 1-0 ahead.
Dundee brought on 17 year old Craig Wighton at half time for Tankulic, who had proved largely ineffective. It would end up being a good substitution for the home side. Harkins went close early on with a piece of quick thinking, he took a quick free kick wide and his effort looped onto the bar and over. Higginbotham then flashed a brilliant half volley inches wide from 30 yards with the keeper beaten.
It took until the 54th minute but Dundee did eventually equalise. Thistle failed to clear properly and McAlister picked up the ball, played a couple of passes before releasing Wighton who slotted past Fox, a poor goal from a Jags perspective with nobody putting in a tackle. Balatoni was then booked for tugging back McDonald as he looked to go clear and add to Dundee’s tally.
All this was just the build up to the main incident of the game though. Harkins floated a free kick into the Thistle box before McPake hit the ground under pressure from new signing Dan Seaborne. Referee, Charleston, didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and Seabourne was booked for his part in the incident – however the award of the penalty did surprise the visiting team. However, the real damage was done as Scott Fox went to protest the penalty and ended up in an altercation with McGowan. The referee saw the coming together as violent conduct and sent Fox for an early shower.
When the dust finally settled Gallacher came on and Lawless made way for him. The birthday boy’s first touch of the ball was to save Harkins penalty brilliantly with his legs before Thistle cleared the ball out of danger.
With Thistle down to ten men, Dundee pressed forward but things didn’t go all the home team’s way. Fraser saw a shot drift wide and then Gallacher produced a magnificent one handed save from McDonald’s header at the back post from a lovely Harkins cross. Although Thistle were not keeping possession particularly well they were able to limit the home side’s chances through resolute defending.
Substitute Elliott caused a mild panic for the home team in injury time with a good run and cross but t here were no Thistle players close enough to get on the end of it and the game finished a 1-1 draw.