Saturday 2nd April, 2016 at 2:36pm
It had been 14 days since Thistle last took to the field with the international break denying Thistle the opportunity to build on the come from behind victory achieved at New Douglas Park. It was a return to Firhill as Kilmarnock came to town needing every point in their bid to avoid the relegation playoffs. Thistle were in desperate need for the points too as they looked to sneak into the top six.
Alan Archibald made just the one change to the side which faced Hamilton but it did lead to a significant positional change in the Thistle side. Gary Fraser dropped out for Frederic Frans who took up his customary position in the heart of the Thistle defence. This enabled Gary Miller to return to his usual slot at right back, which in turn allowed Sean Welsh a recall into the heart of Thistle’s midfield. Kilmarnock fielded former Jags Conrad Balatoni and Kallum Higginbotham as well as new signing Miles Addison in defence.
Amoo was in the mood for Thistle and he showed it early on by beating Hodson on the left hand side of the Kilmarnock defence. It was Kilmarnock, however, who had the better opportunity to open the scoring early on.
Julian Faubert whipped over a tremendous free kick to the back post where Addison’s header smashed off Cerny’s right hand post before bouncing away to safety. It was a terrific delivery from the former Real Madrid man and he produced another excellent one a few minutes later, which Thistle just about did enough to clear.
In a physical battle, Kallum Higginbotham also fancied his chances from set pieces but he could only drill his low effort against the base of the Thistle wall.
Thistle were posing a threat from corners, breaking quickly on the counter attack through the influential Amoo. There were half hearted shouts for a penalty when he found Miller inside the box but referee, Don Robertson, was unmoved and signalled for a goal kick.
Thistle were having success through Amoo, who had the beating of Lee Hodson for a large part of the game, but Pogba was unable to turn his excellent crosses beyond MacDonald in the Killie goal. Sean Welsh was the last Thistle player to try his luck in the first half when Lawless pushed the ball into his path, but his effort from the edge of the box flew wide of target.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first with both sides flying into it looking for the decisive first goal. Kris Boyd thought he had bagged it for Kilmarnock when he pounced on a loose ball. Cerny appeared to have been fouled when claiming a cross, the ball dropped to McKenzie who hit the post before Boyd, in an offside position, rolled the ball into the back of the net.
Barely 60 seconds later and it was Thistle’s turn to be denied a goal. Ryan Edwards picked out Mathias Pogba who fired home across MacDonald but the flag had long been raised for offside before his finish.
Pogba was growing into the game and from his low cross Lawless was unable to turn the ball home. The ball was breaking to Edwards at the back post but he was denied by a last gasp Dicker challenge.
Thistle were winning lots of corners, but their delivery wasn’t troubling MacDonald in the Killie goal and it was Kilmarnock who had the game’s best chance as the clock ran down. Josh Magennis, on as a substitute, managed to get to the touchline to cut the ball back to the waiting Boyd. Around 8 yards from goal, the prolific striker was only able to lift his effort over the crossbar and into the North Stand.
Gary Fraser, introduced as a substitute, was trying to inject urgency into the Thistle performance but when he attempted an effort from 35 yards, it flew well wide of goal.
With the game entering the final stages, Kilmarnock threw bodies forward looking to snatch a winner that would give them three vital points in their quest for safety. Thistle were slightly careless in possession causing Osman, Miller and Seaborne to get booked. It will prove extra costly for Seaborne as he is now suspended for the first post-split fixture that Thistle face.
In the end Thistle were forced to settle for a point in a game where they didn’t test Jamie MacDonald in any significant way while they could have lost it with Kilmarnock proving a danger from set pieces. Thistle’s top six hopes faded slightly and any aspirations to finish in the top half of the league will surely require a win on Tuesday night against Dundee United.