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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Hearts – 5th April 2014

An afternoon that had started in such promising fashion for Thistle ended in a potentially damaging defeat as Hearts, despite having their relegation confirmed at full-time, ran out deserved 4-2 winners as Thistle produced arguably their poorest display of the season.
Manager Alan Archibald made two changes to the side that had drawn at St Johnstone. Kallum Higginbotham was free of suspension and he replaced Christie Elliott in the starting eleven while Kris Doolan was preferred to Prince Buaben.
The wisdom in including Doolan was clear to see when Thistle’s leading scorer fired his team into a 1-0 lead after just five minutes. Doolan was able to use his pace to get clear of the Hearts defence and his powerful finish left MacDonald in the Hearts goal with no chance of saving.
Spurred on by that early goal Thistle began to take a complete grip of the game and could easily have put the game beyond the reach of Hearts inside the first 20 minutes. In the 16th minute Lyle Taylor missed a glorious chance to double the Thistle lead. While Hearts were appealing for handball against Kallum Higginbotham; Higginbotham was able to thread the ball through to Taylor who from just a few yards inside the box lashed the ball over the bar when he really should have hit target at the very least.
Three minutes later Kris Doolan was close to his second goal of the afternoon. Chris Erskine and Kallum Higginbotham combined to set him up but MacDonald was equal to his shot.
Inexplicably Thistle stopped playing at this point allowing Hearts to grow in confidence and exert increasing pressure on the Thistle goal. The first warning sign came after 33 minutes when Paul Gallacher was required to make a stunning save to keep out a Robinson header from point blank range.
Three minutes later Hearts again threatened and Billy King should have done better than shoot wide of goal when he managed to get clear of the Thistle defence.
Gallacher was again tested in the 43rd minute when he pushed away a fierce effort from King and there were loud appeals for a Hearts penalty when Carrick went down inside the Thistle box with half-time fast approaching.
Thistle though were to be denied the chance to take an increasingly fragile looking lead into the dressing room at half-time when Carrick was able to nod the ball home from close range almost on the stroke of half-time.
Surely there would be an improvement from Thistle upon resumption of the game? Not a bit of it. Indeed Hearts took the lead just five minutes after the restart when Billy King thundered a shot high past Gallacher and into the Thistle net.
There was little in the way of response from Thistle and just past the hour mark Hearts were able to increase their lead when negligent defending at a corner allowed Ryan Stevenson to guide a header into the corner of the Thistle net.
There was worse to follow for Thistle just seven minutes later. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was robbed of the ball as he attempted to push forward down the left hand side and seconds later Stevenson was steering his second goal of the afternoon beyond the reach of Paul Gallacher.
It took Thistle until 6 minutes from the end of the game for them to have their first effort of the second half on the Hearts goal and even then a Lyle Taylor effort merely trundled past the post.
Thistle did, however, pull a goal back in the 88th minute. A clever dummy from substitute Steven Lawless gave Jordan McMillan a shooting chance and the full-back made no mistake with a crisp low drive.
Thistle could even have managed a third goal before the finish with MacDonald making an excellent save to keep out an effort from Lawless with James Craigen sending the loose ball into the side netting.
It was by then a case of far too little far too late and with St Mirren staging a late comeback in their match against Motherwell to win 3-2 Thistle dropped into the play-off position.

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