Saturday 21st September, 2013 at 2:12pm
It was another afternoon of frustration for Thistle as they had to settle for just a single point from an entertaining fixture with Kilmarnock that they had enjoyed by far the better of.
Manager Alan Archibald declared after the game that he was delighted with the way his players responded to the defeat to Aberdeen in their previous fixture and he made three changes from that game for the visit of Kilmarnock. Conrad Balatoni, sufficiently recovered from his hamstring injury, returned in the centre of defence, Isaac Osbourne occupied a place in the Thistle midfield and Kris Doolan got the nod ahead of John Baird to start up front.
Thistle made a positive opening to this game and they had the ball in the back of the Kilmarnock net as early the 4th minute only for Kris Doolan to see his effort disallowed for an apparent handball. It was an encouraging start from Thistle though and they continued to press for an early goal. Kallum Higginbotham turned well at the edge of the Kilmarnock box only to see his shot saved by a well positioned Craig Samson and Kris Doolan went to ground inside the Kilmarnock box in the 9th minute but despite Thistle appeals for a penalty referee Bobby Madden didn’t point to the spot.
Less than a minute later, however, that was precisely what he was doing; Pascali’s high challenge on Steven Lawless earning Thistle the opportunity to take an early lead from the penalty spot. That they did when Aaron Muirhead calmly slotted home his third penalty of the season.
Thistle were in total control of the game at this point and they were unfortunate not to have doubled their lead at least by the half-time whistle. In the 18th minute Steven Lawless caught the ball on the half volley at the edge of the Kilmarnock box but Samson was once more well placed to save.
Two minutes later the Kilmarnock keeper produced an even better save this time pushing away Kris Doolan’s left foot drive after the Thistle striker had out muscled the Kilmarnock central defence to create the opening for himself.
There was one reminder, in the 30th minute, of the fragility of a one goal lead when Barry Nicholson nearly levelled the scores with a glancing header that went narrowly wide of Scott Fox’s right hand post.
It was Thistle though that finished the half on top and were close again to a second goal when Samson did well to tip a Higginbotham header over the bar following a cross from the right from Sean Welsh.
After a first half of almost total Thistle dominance the opening 20 minutes of the second half were in sharp contrast to what had unfolded in the previous 45 with Kilmarnock storming right back into the game.
They were level in fact just three minutes into the second half. Sean Clohessy sent over a cross from the right and Kris Boyd was able to peel off Aaron Muirhead and bury a header low into the corner of the Thistle net.
Just 2 minutes later Boyd was close to giving his side the lead and would have done so had Scott Fox not made an outstanding save to keep Boyd’s net bound header out. A short time later, as Kilmarnock increased the pressure on the Thistle rear guard, Fox again excelled; this time pushing away a header from Bouzid.
On the hour mark Alan Archibald introduced Christie Elliott for Steven Lawless and having weathered the Kilmarnock storm Thistle once again started to assert themselves on proceedings.
In the 66th minute Kris Doolan, after being set up by Stephen O’Donnell, saw his first time shot saved at his near post by Samson before, in the 70th minute, substitute Christie Elliott smacked a shot off the post after collecting a pass from Taylor-Sinclair.
Taylor-Sinclair was involved again a minute later when Kris Doolan couldn’t quite connect with Taylor-Sinclair’s teasing right foot cross.
Christie Elliott, not for the first time this season, was making a big impact on the game after coming on as a substitute and with 10 minutes remaining he tried to angle a shot wide of Samson only to see his effort drift wide of goal.
He was much closer, however, in the 86th minute when Samson was forced into making a fine one handed stop to prevent Elliott from re-establishing a deserved Thistle lead.
There were four minutes of injury time at the end of a fiercely contested encounter and in the 4th and final minute of that injury time Thistle were once more close to snatching a winner. The Kilmarnock defence was sliced open as Thistle launched a swift counter attack and it took a tremendous last ditch challenge from Mark Stewart to prevent Christie Elliott from knocking the ball into the back of the net.