Saturday 28th September, 2013 at 2:15pm
Thistle returned from Perth, McDiarmid Park being a venue that Thistle haven’t prised full points from since the 1990s, with a point after a battling performance.
There was a blow for Thistle before the start with Scott Fox ruled out after picking up an injury in training on Friday though, despite being far from 100% fit, he occupied a place on the bench. Paul Gallacher, who made his Thistle debut, was then one of four changes that Alan Archibald made to his team after the midweek defeat at Tannadice; Aaron Muirhead, Stuart Bannigan and Isaac Osbourne all being restored to the starting eleven.
As they had done at Tannadice, Thistle made a positive start to this game. Conrad Balatoni, after robbing Stevie May of the ball, tried his luck with a shot from fully 35 yards before Kallum Higginbotham drilled a cross low into the St Johnstone six yard box.
The big difference between this game and the match at Dundee United though was the fact that Thistle were rewarded for their positive start with a goal. In the sixth minute Kris Doolan was able to take advantage of a slip from Steven Anderson and took the ball round home keeper Alan Mannus. It initially looked as if Doolan may have taken the ball too wide but he managed to find the net with great aplomb from a tight angle.
Paul Gallacher finally had his first touch of the ball in the 8th minute and it was an important touch; Gallacher getting down low at his right hand post to turn a Stevie May effort round the post for a corner.
It was Thistle though that at this stage of the game that looked the more likely side to add further goals. In the 14th minute Aaron Taylor-Sinclair chipped a cross into the box that Kris Doolan was unfortunate to send just wide with a glancing header.
Doolan was involved in Thistle’s next near thing. Aaron Muirhead’s delightful through ball was collected by Doolan who in turned laid the ball into the path of Kallum Higginbotham who saw his shot saved.
Half-time was just five minutes away when Thistle were again close to a second goal. Higginbotham did well to cross from the right where Kris Doolan was unable to direct his header away from Mannus in the St Johnstone goal.
Two minutes later and St Johnstone were level. They hadn’t threatened much prior to equalising although Mackay did test Gallacher with a free kick in the 16th minute but the Thistle keeper wasn’t able to prevent MacLean from finding the net with a shot that went through a crowd of players.
If Thistle had had the better of the first half then the second 45 minutes was altogether more even. Paul Gallacher had to make some important saves from Chris Millar and Stevie May; the latter’s pace being a threat throughout the game.
It was, however, far from one way traffic. On the hour mark Kris Doolan did well to gather a Stephen O’Donnell cross into the box but when he turned he found his route to goal blocked by a St Johnstone defender.
There were Thistle appeals for a penalty in the 73rd minute when a Doolan effort struck a defender and the St Johnstone keeper twice saved from Christie Elliott.
Thistle best chance of a winner, however, came with just a shade over ten minutes of the encounter remaining. An excellent Thistle moved ended with Kris Doolan sending a pass from substitute James Craigen wide of target.
St Johnstone though could have snatched a win in the 89th minute. The ball dropped to David Mackay no more than 10 yards out and directly in front of the Thistle goal. He was able though to make decent contact with the ball and his shot fell into the waiting arms of Paul Gallacher.
A share of the points was probably not an unfair reflection of the game; the point keeping Thistle in 7th position in the Premiership league table.