Saturday 7th December, 2013 at 2:26pm
There was heartbreak for Thistle at Easter Road as a Hibs equaliser deep into injury time denied Thistle their first win since October.
Injury and suspension impacted upon the manager’s selection for this game and he made three changes from the side knocked out the Scottish Cup by Aberdeen. Aaron Muirhead replaced the suspended Conrad Balatoni, Jordan McMillan returned at right back and Steven Lawless returned to the starting eleven.
It was the home side that started the game the better and there seemed to be a touch of nervousness surrounding the Thistle performance in the opening ten minutes or so. Hibs were able to win a series of corners and Scott Fox was forced to turn a shot from ex Jag Paul Cairney round the post.
Thistle though started to settle and they had their first effort on goal in the 11th minute when Ben Williams saved from Steven Lawless. Seconds later Thistle threatened again with this time Williams pushing away a fiercely driven effort from Kallum Higginbotham.
This was a good spell for Thistle and as they grew in confidence Steven Lawless was just unable to gather a chipped pass from Kallum Higginbotham and a Christie Elliott shot spun off a Hibs defender into the path of Kris Doolan only for the flag to go up for offside against the Thistle striker.
Hibs saw the bulk of the possession and they were able to put Thistle under pressure at times but only rarely was Scott Fox called into direct action. Thistle though were thankful for a fantastic Jordan McMillan clearance from a Maybury cross and an important block at the edge of the box from Aaron Muirhead as Thistle defended well when required to do so.
Thistle were forced into a change during the first half when Steven Lawless picked up a heavy knock and he was replaced by Ross Forbes.
It was Forbes that had the first effort of the second half although Williams was well placed to make a fairly comfortable save.
At the other end Scott Fox was a little more hard pressed to keep out a long range effort from Tudor Jones; the Thistle keeper having to dive full length to save at his left hand post.
It was an important save as a mere 30 seconds later Thistle took a 49th minute lead with a superbly taken goal from Kris Doolan his 6th of the current season and the 60th of his Thistle career.
Thistle’s confidence took an understandable boost from that goal and a lovely reverse pass from Ross Forbes just failed to reach its’ intended target of Kris Doolan as Thistle looked to press home their advantage.
It took, however, a quite magnificent save from Scott Fox in the 66th minute to deny James Collins and preserve Thistle’s lead.
That was a lead that Thistle could, and perhaps should, have extended with 15 minutes remaining. Ross Forbes enjoyed the break of the ball leaving him with just Williams in the Hibs goal to beat but he rather snatched at the opportunity and sent the ball wide of goal.
Thistle were nearly made to pay for that miss just two minutes later. Jason Cummings, just on as a sub for Hibs, only had to connect with the ball at the back post following a corner from the left but he missed the ball completely.
You did wonder at that point if this was going to be Thistle’s day. There was plenty of late Hibs pressure and on a couple of occasions Thistle really had to scramble the ball clear from their own penalty box.
There would, however, be a late, late blow for Thistle. The game was well into the third minute of injury time when a free kick was launched deep into the Thistle box and Thistle, who had otherwise defended so well, gave James Collins the space he needed to lash home and level the scores.