Sunday 7th April, 2019 at 12:14pm
Partick Thistle returned to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill to face Dunfermline Athletic off the back of a terrific 3-0 away win at Greenock Morton. Their opponents from Fife were looking to recover from their first back-to-back defeats since mid-January. Five straight league wins under Stevie Crawford had seen the Pars rise into the promotion play-off spots but losses against Dundee United and Ayr had made those dreams slightly more difficult to achieve.
For the hosts, there was one change from the side which blew Morton out the water a week prior in a brilliant first half. Conor Hazard, who made a crucial save at 0-0 against the Ton, retained his place between the sticks behind a back three of Steven Saunders, Steven Anderson and Sean McGinty who was coming in for the injured Christie Elliott. In Elliott’s absence, Jack McMillan moved out to right wing-back with James Penrice on the opposite side. In midfield, Shea Gordon started alongside Stuart Bannigan once again after a successful return from injury at Cappielow. Blair Spittal acted as the bridge between midfield and attack at number 10 behind the strike-force of Scott McDonald and Kris Doolan. On the bench for Thistle were Jamie Sneddon, Gary Harkins, Craig Slater, Joe Cardle, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Miles Storey and Lewis Mansell.
The match began in open fashion with both teams moving the ball quickly from back to front and it only took nine minutes for the first goal of the game to arrive. Unfortunately for the Jags faithful, it came for the travellers as Tom Beadling put them in front. The midfielder got on the end of a well-weighted cut-back from the left before using some nice footwork to get past Jack McMillan, opening up the target for a shot. He then fired a left-footed shot low across goal, beating Conor Hazard and finding the corner.
It didn’t take the visitors long to double their lead either as Bruce Anderson made it two on 23 minutes. Dunfermline played a corner low to an area of space near the front post where Anderson was waiting, having escaped his marker. The Pars’ number 12 met the delivery on the volley, stroking it home into the far corner before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the away section of the Jackie Husband Stand.
Thankfully for the home side, they would get one back ahead of the break as Ryan Blair turned into his own net. The move started with a quick throw out by Conor Hazard and after a bit of passing the ball in the middle of the park, Stuart Bannigan fed the ball forward to Scott McDonald who laid it off for Blair Spital. The number seven then slotted it through for the breaking James Penrice before the left-back reversed a pass into Scott McDonald’s path. The Australian then drilled a ball across the six-yard box and, in a panic, Ryan Blair turned it past his own ‘keeper giving Thistle a lifeline in the process.
The Jags were almost level a minute after their first goal as Stuart Bannigan looked for Blair Spittal in behind the Dunfermline rear-guard. The Jags captain picked the ball up in the midfield before quickly lifting a pass forward with Spittal the intended target. The Thistle top scorer swung a leg at the ball but couldn’t make proper contact, allowing Ryan Scully to collect.
At half time, Gary Caldwell was forced into a change as Jack McMillan came off injured. With no Christie Elliott available, that meant there needed to be some improvisation and Joe Cardle was brought on as Blair Spittal went to right wing-back and the substitute took Spittal’s place in attacking midfield.
The hosts’ first chance of the second half came when Stuart Bannigan delivered a free kick to the back post which Sean McGinty headed goalward. Ryan Scully made the save and McGinty was tackled before he could force the rebound home.
As the Maryhill men continued to push for an equaliser, Miles Storey and Aidan Fitzpatrick were introduced in the 69th and 74th minute respectively, coming on for Shea Gordon and Steven Saunders.
Shortly after their third and final change, the Jags found their leveller through Scott McDonald. The Australian benefitted from a Joe Cardle cross which evaded two Pars defenders before being controlled by McDonald. He used his chest to cushion the ball before rifling a half-volley past Ryan Scully at the near post.
Thistle had a couple of chances to complete the comeback and take all three points with Miles Storey and Blair Spittal going close but they were unable to find that crucial third goal and the game ended 2-2.
Next up for the Jags will be an away trip to face league leaders Ross County in Dingwall. Kick-off is 15:00 in the Highlands.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Hazard, Penrice, McGinty, S. Anderson, Saunders, McMillan, Bannigan, Gordon, Spittal, Doolan, McDonald.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Harkins, Slater, Mansell.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC TEAM: Scully, J. Longridge, Ashcroft, Devine, Craigen, Beadling, Blair, Todd (Williamson, 55′), L. Longridge, El Bakhtaoui (Hippolyte, 81′), B. Anderson (McCann, 84′).
UNUSED SUBS (DNF): Gill, Durnan, Higginbotham, Vincent.