Partick Thistle manager Jackie McNamara couldn’t hide his frustration after his side were held to a 1-1 draw by a resilient Raith Rovers side at Firhill.
Despite controlling long spells of the game, Thistle failed to build on Sean Welsh’s 64th minute opener and in the end they were lucky to escape with a point, as Rovers squandered several chances in a late rally after Paul Paton’s 74th minute own goal had pulled the Kirkcaldy side level.
A dejected McNamara said after the game: “I’m disappointed with the goal we lost, it’s really frustrating. It was a game that we should have gone on and scored more goals and been comfortable.
“The young lad (Stephen O’Donnell) has made a mistake for the goal and he’s got to learn from it because that can’t happen. It was a game that we should have been coasting but we ended up being very nervous towards the end.”
The early signs, however, were good for Thistle. They hadn’t beaten Raith Rovers all season but they seemed intent on reversing that trend as they dominated the match from the first whistle.
Chris Erskine fired an early warning shot over the bar after only 3 minutes, before Grant Murray was fortunate not to see yellow for the visitors after a crunching challenge on Kris Doolan on the edge of the area that would lead to the striker being forced off at the interval with bruising.
Thistle peppered the Rovers goal in a scrappy opening period, forcing a number of corners and free kicks in dangerous areas, although the stubborn and well-drilled Rovers defence kept the number of clear cut chances to a minimum.
The home side’s best chance came on 28 minutes when Erskine broke into the box and flashed a shot across goal. David McGurn could only parry his drive into the path of Paul Cairney, but desperate defending from the Rovers backline managed to squeeze the ball out for a corner amid vocal penalty claims from the Jags’ support.
Thistle continued to make most of the running after the break but the poor condition of the pitch meant that the ball spent a lot of time in the air. It was no surprise, then, that when they finally made the breakthrough it came from a set-piece.
Sean Welsh met Paul Cairney’s 64th minute corner on the volley and steered it past the helpless McGurn from point blank range.
Rovers had barely threatened the Thistle goal all game but they found an equaliser out of nowhere with 16 minutes remaining.
Stephen O’Donnell misjudged a long ball over the top, allowing the alert Brian Graham to power in on goal. Scott Fox appeared to have narrowed the angle but Graham dinked the ball across the face of goal and Paul Paton could only divert it into his own net as he tried to clear the danger.
Thistle began to look nervous and Raith could have won it when Grant Murray’s header was harshly ruled out for offside with two minutes remaining, before substitute John Baird missed the best chance of all with the last kick of the game, firing against the post from 12 yards when it looked easier to score.
While McNamara lamented his side’s failure to kill off the match, Raith boss John McGlynn felt his side were unlucky not to leave Firhill with all three points.
“A lot of the lads are a wee bit disappointed because they feel the goal was onside,” he said. “Then John Baird hits the post with one. These wee breaks can make a big difference.”
The result leaves Thistle treading water in 5th, while Raith Rovers remain just three points off automatic relegation at the foot of the table.
Partick Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Bannigan, Paton, Balatoni, Archibald, Cairney, Welsh, Doolan (Elliot 46), McGuigan, Erskine.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Dyer, Ellis, Hill, Murray, Williamson, A Walker, Graham, Clarke (J Walker 57), McBride (Baird 57).