Thursday 26th December, 2013 at 2:30pm
A series of missed chances and good goalkeeping denied Thistle what would have been a richly deserved Boxing Day win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle; The Jags having to settle for a point at the end of a 0-0 draw that was anything but dull.
Thistle may have lost at Kilmarnock five days earlier but the performance was such that manager Alan Archibald kept faith with the players that featured at Rugby Park selecting the same team right down to the choice of seven substitutes.
The opening exchanges in the game were pretty scrappy with the only effort worthy of any kind of note in the first ten minutes a Kallum Higginbotham free kick from the left corner of the Inverness box that went over the bar.
Gradually though Thistle began to get on top against the side that were sitting second in the league at kick-off time and they were unfortunate not to take the lead in the 13th minute. Higginbotham found himself in behind the Inverness defence and his effort from an angle was saved by the legs of Brill with the rebound bouncing off Higginbotham and out for a goal kick.
Thistle defended well throughout the 90 minutes with the exception of one moment midway through the first half when they came close to gifting Inverness an undeserved lead. Conrad Balatoni’s ill-judged pass back was seized upon by Billy McKay, by some distance the division’s leading scorer, but on this occasion he wasn’t able to find the net with Scott Fox able to divert the ball behind for a corner.
That opportunity though was very much an isolated one for the visitors as Thistle continued to look the better side. They were close again to taking the lead in the 23rd minute. James Craigen lifted a cross into the six yard box that Kris Doolan had to stretch every muscle to reach with his head. Having stretched though to reach Craigen’s cross he was unable to get any direction on his header with the result that the ball flew over an empty net and over the crossbar. It was hard luck on the Thistle striker who had done well to reach the ball in the first place.
Despite those chances the score remained blank at the interval.
Thistle continued where they had left off before the break at the start of the second half as they put Inverness under increasing pressure. Stephen O’Donnell had been introduced for Jordan McMillan at half-time and it was O’Donnell that provided the cross that nearly gave Thistle the lead ten minutes after the restart. Steven Lawless was able to dive to reach O’Donnell’s ball in from the right flank but his header went wide of Brill’s left hand post.
Four minutes later the majority of the Thistle fans inside Firhill were on their feet ready to acclaim a goal but Kallum Higginbotham’s effort cleared the Inverness bar.
Still the chances continued to come Thistle’s way. After 67 minutes Kris Doolan did well to lay the ball back into the path of James Craigen but the midfielder was unable to direct his effort from the edge of the box on target.
Christie Elliott was, however, able to get his shot on target in the 75th minute but Brill was down sharply to save his effort with a defender quickly on hand to clear the loose ball from danger.
Thistle continued to press and Ross Forbes, who replaced Higginbotham in the 67th minute, could only watch in frustration as Brill dived full length to his left to keep out his long range effort with just eleven minutes of the game remaining.
Thistle’s last chance to snatch the win that their efforts merited came with the game deep in injury time. A free kick was won just left of centre about 25 yards from goal. Both Christie Elliott and Ross Forbes stood over the ball with the latter taking the free kick but he saw his effort headed clear by an Inverness defender as Thistle had to settle for just a single point from a game that they had dominated the majority of.