Monday 28th February, 2022 at 11:38am
The month of February was always likely to be a highly significant one for Thistle and in turned out to be a hugely profitable one for The Jags. Victory over Hearts in the month’s final fixture produced a return of 7 league points from a possible 9 with progression into the last eight of the Scottish Cup also included.
There has been a real settled look to Brian Graham’s team selection recently and he made just a solitary change from the side that drew with Spartans in the previous fixture. Injury sadly ruled out Taylor McGlashan and she was replaced by Kim Murphy who slotted in at left back with Cheryl McCulloch moving across to centre back. As she has done so often this season, Kim slotted effortlessly back into the side and had a big part to play in Thistle’s eventual success.
Thistle made a bright start matching the overhead conditions but fell behind after just 7 minutes.
Possession was cheaply conceded in midfield and when McAllister pushed a pass through to Anderson the Hearts striker found room for a shot that powerfully beat McGregor in the Thistle goal.
The Thistle response wasn’t quite instantaneous but was pleasingly rapid all the same.
Just three minutes had elapsed since the Hearts opener when a McBrearty free kick was touched down to Linzi Taylor who took a touch before lifting a shot over Parker-Smith and into the net.
Demi Falconer isn’t renowned for a her goal scoring prowess but she was close to giving Thistle the lead when she flicked a near post McBrearty corner from the right into the side netting after 13 minutes.
Five minutes later though Thistle were celebrating the collectors’ item that it is a Demi Falconer goal.
This time it was a well worked McBrearty corner from the left hand side that created the opening. When Taylor flicked the ball goalwards, Falconer was in the right spot to power her shot high into the back of the net to give Thistle the lead.
It was a lead though that Thistle held for next to no time as it was Hearts turn to provide a rapid response to falling behind.
It was a poor goal for Thistle to concede. A free kick from wide on the Hearts right evaded everyone with the exception of Hunter who converted at the back post.
Falconer came close to restoring the lead with a header from a McBrearty corner that Hearts managed to scramble clear.
Thistle though were fortunate not to fall behind after 34 minutes when McAneny’s effort from outside the box beat McGregor but crashed off the crossbar.
An eventful first half finished with a Donaldson effort from 30 yards our just cleared the Hearts’ crossbar.
It took Thistle though just two second half minutes to nudge themselves back in front.
For the third time it was a Cara McBrearty set piece that created the opening. Her free kick from wide on the Thistle left was knocked back towards goal for Cheryl McCulloch. Her first header was touched onto the underside of the bar by Parker-Smith before McCulloch removed any need to debate whether that effort had crossed the line by making absolutely sure at the second time of asking.
This time there was no quick fire response. Indeed although Hearts pressed hard and had the majority of possession thanks to the well organised and resolute Thistle defence they were restricted to at best half chances. Falconer doing well to clear one dangerous low cross into the Thistle box and McGregor bravely whipping the ball away from an advancing Hearts player being the really only notable moments of anxiety for the Jags defence.
Although seeing less of the ball, Thistle still remained a threat on the counter attack and substitute McCann had a chance to all but seal the win when Docherty found her with a pass to her right but Parker-Smith was able to block her shot.
Thistle hearts were in mouths with the game nudging towards the 90 minute mark when they were loud appeals for handball against McGowan and a penalty but thankfully those appeals went unanswered, and with 2 minutes of the 90 remaining Thistle were able to seal a massive three points in the context of the current league table.
Rachel Donaldson lifted a high ball forward for Teigan McCann to chase. McCann expertly held off the attention of a Hearts defender before emphatically thumping home, sparking some wild celebrations in the Thistle camp.
Four minutes of injury failed to produce any response from Hearts and the final whistle blew not just on a highly successful 90 minutes but on brilliant month of February for Thistle. This was a performance that had no real stand out performances simply because each and every player made a sizeable contribution to the eventual and deserved success.
Team: McGregor, Slater, Murphy, McCulloch, Falconer, Fleming, Docherty (Fisher), McBrearty (McCann), McGowan, Taylor (Bulloch), Donaldson subs unused Magilton, MacDonald, Grant, Hamill.