Saturday 31st August, 2013 at 2:09pm
Thistle’s first ever trip to St Mirren Park proved to be a memorable one. Trailing 1-0 with just ten minutes of the match remaining Thistle struck twice to record a thoroughly deserved 2-1 win.
Manager Alan Archibald brought Conrad Balatoni, Isaac Osbourne and Steven Lawless back into his starting eleven following the League Cup win over Cowdenbeath.
St Mirren’s poor start to the season has been well documented and they made a frantic start to this match with the sheer pace of the game inside the opening minutes ensuring that there was little in the way of quality football produced by either side.
It was the home side though that had the game’s first chance in the 11th minute. Thompson was able to head the ball on for Bahoken who was able to out muscle Conrad Balatoni. Bahoken was able to knock the ball past the advancing Scott Fox but the aforementioned Balatoni was on hand to clear.
Thistle, as has been a feature of the season thus far; were able to enjoy the majority of the possession and they switched the ball from flank to flank as they attempted to stretch the St Mirren defence. James Craigen was the first to truly threaten the St Mirren goal when, after 20 minutes, his shot from the edge of the St Mirren box cleared the bar by a couple of feet.
Thistle did have the ball in the net in the 26th minute but the flag for offside had gone up against John Baird before he knocked the ball into the back of the net. Five minutes later the Thistle striker was appealing in vain for a penalty after he and Goodwin had gone shoulder to shoulder inside the St Mirren box.
The longer the first-half went on the more Thistle dominated although they were nearly caught on the counter attack when Bahoken’s angled drive went wide of Scott Fox’s left hand post.
The chances in the main though continued to come Thistle’s way. Taylor-Sinclair sent a shot over the bar after he had peeled off his marked to connect with a near post Baird corner and Steven Lawless found his route to the St Mirren goal blocked after he had evaded one challenge inside the St Mirren penalty area.
Thistle’s best first half chances came as the half-time whistle approached. In the 42nd minute James Craigen couldn’t keep his header from a Bannigan cross down and two minutes later Steven Lawless was inches away from a goal after Taylor-Sinclair had headed the ball down for him.
After a goalless first half Thistle should have been in front just 90 seconds into the second half. John Baird was able to collect a misdirected pass back but when he looked set to score he lifted the ball over the bar.
Thistle were ruing that, and other missed chances, when St Mirren opened the scoring three minutes later. It was a poor goal from a Thistle perspective to lose. Van Zanten had a little too much room down the right to send over a cross that Thistle defence should have dealt better with; Kenny McLean firing across Scott Fox and into the net.
Despite the loss of that goal the pattern of the game changed little with Thistle continuing to dominate. After 66 minutes Cornell in the St Mirren goal did well to push away a fiercely driven James Craigen shot and with 15 minutes left a Kallum Higginbotham shot dipped just too late.
Substitute Kris Doolan saw a shot saved by Cornell as time continued to pass with Thistle receiving no reward for their dominance. Would this game result in an undeserved defeat?
The answer to that was an emphatic no. The equaliser arrived with ten minutes remaining with Kallum Higginbotham opening his scoring account for Thistle in spectacular fashion as he found the net with a shot that entered the net via the inside of the post.
There was no question of Thistle settling for a point at this stage. Kris Doolan tested Cornell with a shot from the left corner of the box before Doolan was involved in the goal that gave Thistle full points.
Stephen O’Donnell came forward down the right before setting up Doolan. Doolan in turn knocked the ball back into the path of fellow sub Ross Forbes whose well placed shot found the corner of the St Mirren net.
There was a touch of anxiety when the fourth official’s board indicated a minimum of 4 minutes of additional time but it was Thistle that were the closest to scoring in that period of injury time; Kris Doolan being just unable to connect with a Stephen O’Donnell cross to the back post.
When the full-time whistle sounded the players showed their appreciation of the backing of the 1,613 Thistle fans at the game who provided such marvellous support throughout the game.