Saturday 23rd August, 2014 at 6:46pm
It was to prove a disappointing afternoon in the sunshine at Firhill as Thistle conceded two late goals to Hamilton to lose their unbeaten record for the season. The Jags’ manager, Alan Archibald, made three changes to the starting eleven that faced Dundee – all enforced. Scott Fox’s suspension meant a start for Paul Gallacher while injuries to Jordan McMillan and Dan Seaborne saw Dale Keenan and Aaron Muirhead both start.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors when Imrie flicked the ball through the heart of the home defence and Longridge burst through one on one with Gallacher on four minuted. The Thistle keeper did well thuhg and made a great save low to his left.
Gary Fraser, who has been in great form since returning for pre-season, was the first to test Dundee custodian, McGovern, with a low 30 yard free kick but the keeper was equal to it and saved comfortably.
There was another scare for the home side when Antoine-Curier got across his man, looking certain to open the scoring for the visitors, it was a surprise to everyone when hs shout hit the upright. As it happens it wouldn’t have mattered anyway as the linseman’s flag was up quickly to rule the Guadeloupean offside.
Both teams were keeping posession well enough but the final ball was proving somewhat elusive. Crawford saw a 25 yard effort go well wide before, in the 32nd minute a great Gallacher clearance found Stephen O’Donnell in behind the visitors defence. The right-back drove forward into the box and, with only the keeper to beat, looked set to open the scoring. However when he unselfishly tried to square the ball to Lawless the Hamilton defence read the pass and cleared the ball.
Stevenson then fizzed a great ball across the box, just too far in front of Lawless after good play between the pair. Dale Keenan, in the lineup from the start for the first time, then sent a perfect pass in behind the Accies defence to put Stevenson, again leading the line for the Jags, one on one with the keeper. Unfortunately the former Hearts man could only put his shot straight at the keeper and another good chance went begging.
The final chance of the half would again fall to thistle as Gary Fraser put a shot just inches wide after Higginbotham’s header initially sent him through and it remained goalless at half time.
In the 48th minute a lovely passing move involving Balatoni, Keenan and Higginbotham saw the latter square the ball for Lawless who saw his shot brilliantly saved low down at the post by McGovern. An O’Donnell cross was then dropped by the visitors’ keeper and Stevenson couldn’t quite get a touch to force it goalwards.
It was Higgy who got the next chance too as he curled a 25 yard free kick just wide of the post in the 57th minute as the Jags looked for an opening goal. There were a number of chances for both sides in the last half hour, Antoine-Curier hitting the side netting after a great cross from the left hand side before Balatoni saw his header from a Fraser corner saved by the keeper.
Thistle had defending to do too as the game became increasingly stretched. Balatoni then had to make a great tackle and timely interception to prevent Crawford getting a clean shot away on Gallacher with just 12 minutes to go. Accies then hit Thistle on the break after a Higginbotham free kick was headed clear and it took a magnificent save from Gallacher, who was going the wrong way but blocked with his legs to prevent the visitors taking the lead.
With just five minutes of normal time remaining Thistle opened the scoring. O’Donnell took the throw in and Higginbotham took it on his chest, let the ball bounce and fired a magnificent 22 yard half volley into the top corner to make it 1-0 to Thistle. Many of the home fans would have thought this wonder strike would be enough to earn Thistle all three points – Hamilton had other ideas and the Jags weren’t in front for long, two minutes to be precise.
Substitute Andreu picked the ball up in his own half and was allowed to run unchallenged to the edge of the Jags’ box, he exchanged passes and fired past Gallacher from 12 yards for the equaliser. Worse was to follow in injury time when a mistake in the Thistle defence allowed another substitute, Jason Scotland, to go clean through on goal. He made no mistake and fired low and hard into the far corner to give Accies a 2-1 victory.