Tuesday 5th March, 2019 at 9:13am
Partick Thistle took a break from league action to try to rediscover their winning form as Hearts visited Maryhill in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals. The Jags had suffered two straight defeats to Ross County and Dunfermline heading into the tie while the Jambos were winless in three.
Gary Caldwell made two changes to the side which fell to a 3-0 defeat at East End Park with the side changing to a 4-5-1 formation. Conor Hazard started once again in goal behind a defence of James Penrice, Steven Anderson, Steven Saunders and Jack McMillan, who was playing in his natural right-back role for the first time since joining the Club. Christie Elliott was operating on the right of the midfield in a slightly more advanced position than usual with Aidan Fitzpatrick on the opposite side. Blair Spittal, Gary Harkins and Craig Slater played as a midfield trio behind lone forward, Lewis Mansell. On the bench for the hosts were Jamie Sneddon, Sean McGinty, Shea Gordon, Kris Doolan, Scott McDonald, Joe Cardle and Miles Storey.
Hearts started the game firmly on top with their left wing proving particularly dangerous and they were able to take the lead after just 11 minutes through their skipper, Christophe Berra. A lifted pass by Oliver Bozanic from a corner by Ben Garuccio who delivered an angled ball into the box finding the head of Berra. The Scotland international then directed his header goalwards, looping it over Conor Hazard and into the net.
What followed was more Hearts dominance as the Jambos penned their hosts back into the Thistle half and Uche Ikpeazu had a couple of half chances to make it 2-0. The most notable opportunity came when the ex-Cambridge United striker used an over-head flick to evade the attentions of Steven Saunders and fire a volley towards the target. Fortunately for the Jags, his shot veered wide of the far post.
The away side then had a less spectacular but simpler chance to double the deficit as Sean Clare had a sight of goal a minute before the break. Arnaud Djoum burst through on goal after a quick one-two with Steven MacLean but when faced by the covering James Penrice he decided to square the ball for Clare. The number nine took one touch and tried to place the ball with his left foot but ballooned his effort well over the bar.
Thistle came out looking much better at the start of the second half, matching Hearts in energy and desire in a way that they hadn’t up until that point. With that, they managed their first real chance of the night on 58 minutes. A deflected Craig Slater pass fell the way of Aidan Fitzpatrick and the young winger turned before firing an effort towards Zdenek Zlamal’s goal, however, the shot was just too high although it did raise the spirits of the Jags faithful who had seen very little from their team in the attacking third during the opening hour of the game.
Hearts would bounce back and they had a couple of quick-fire opportunities to score a second in the 68th minute as Conor Hazard came to Thistle’s rescue with a bit of help from the cross bar. First it was Sean Clare causing trouble as he shifted away from James Penrice, trying a shot from a tight angle. Hazard was alert though and got a strong hand to the ball, turning it against the bar. The rebound would, however, fall to Uche Ikpeazu but the attacker once again was unable to extend the lead as his header hit the woodwork on its way onto the roof of the net. Shortly thereafter, Joe Cardle made his return from injury, replacing Aidan Fitzpatrick.
The visitors would be made to rue their missed chances on 71 minutes when Christie Elliott restored parity. The goal could be traced back to a lovely through ball by James Penrice which found the run of Craig Slater in the Hearts box. The midfielder then used the outside of his foot to pick out Elliott who was making a bursting run towards the back post and with an all but an empty net, the number two hammered home his second goal in nine days.
After the equaliser, the two teams slogged it out without much attacking quality. The Hearts high balls and crosses which had troubled the Jags so much in the first half had been limited in their effectiveness in the latter stages of the game meaning the Jambos couldn’t really create much. The home side brought on Miles Storey and Sean McGinty for Jack McMillan and Blair Spittal as they held onto the draw and took the tie to a Tynecastle replay.
Thistle had shown a real doggedness and spirit in the second half to come from a goal behind against Premiership opposition and get a draw on the night. That replay in Edinburgh will take place next Tuesday, the 12th of March.
In the meantime, the Jags have a league meeting with Dundee United to think about this weekend. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Hazard, McMillan (Storey, 74’), Anderson, Saunders, Penrice, Elliott, Harkins, Slater, Spittal (McGinty, 86’), Fitzpatrick (Cardle, 69’), Mansell.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Gordon, Doolan, McDonald.
HEARTS TEAM: Zlamal, Godinho, Souttar, Berra, Garuccio, Haring, Bozanic, Djoum, Clare, MacLean (Mulraney, 79’), Ikpeazu.
UNUSED SUBS (HoM): Doyle, Lee, Dikamona, Vanecek, Keena, Hickey.