MICHAEL Johnston won’t be grudging Kris Boyd his wage this week.
Scorers: Partick Thistle - Muirhead (11); Kilmarnock - Boyd (48)
Bookings: Partick Thistle - Sinclair, Doolan, Higginbotham; Kilmarnock - Clohessy, Stewart, Pascali, Boyd
Boos had greeted his arrival in the directors’ box pre-match and as he re-emerged for the second half, the away fans were just as keen to stress their opposition to the man currently clinging to power at their club. But just as the chants were gathering momentum and growing in volume, the Kilmarnock striker rose to head home a goal that levelled the scoring and forced a change of tune from the travelling support.
It was never likely to be anything other than temporary respite for the under-fire chairman but it offered some reprieve all the same.
It was a boot in the nether regions for Partick Thistle. They should have been luxuriating in the comfort of a far bigger lead by that stage. They had set an early tempo their guests struggled to keep pace with and Kris Doolan had a few chances. He found the net in the fourth minute but the effort was ruled offside while Kilmarnock new boy Ismael Bouzid used his physical strength to snuff out his goal threat in the ninth minute.
The advantage wasn’t long in coming though, Aaron Muirhead finding the net from the spot. Manuel Pascali had been reinstalled to the Kilmarnock starting line-up following his injury lay-off and he made his presence known with a high challenge on Steven Lawless in the penalty box. It earned him a yellow card and gifted Partick Thistle the perfect opportunity to take the lead. Given the way the game was flowing in Thistle’s favour at that stage, dominating the possession and the shots on target, it seemed like that goal would be added to fairly quickly. But Thistle learned the hard way that chances have to be taken at this level if they are to get their due rewards.
“It was a poor first half performance. We don’t start games as well as we should,” stated Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston, who was happier to see his men step things up in the second half. They definitely succeeded in doing that but his analysis that his side had been the better team for the majority of that second period was probably a slight exaggeration.
The equaliser early in the second half was the perfect pick me up for a visiting side who started the game 45 minutes too late but still managed to escape with a share of the points.
Scott Fox had spent most of the first half as a spectator but was called on to make a couple of superb saves, from Boyd and then Bouzid as Kilmarnock tried to capitalise on a rare period of superiority.
But with the introduction of Christie Elliott, whose manager is now calling him a supersub given the impact he can make, Thistle were soon back in the hunt for the winner.
Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald was far happier with the way his team played although he was at a loss to understand just how his men had failed to get all three points their display merited.
“We were dominant for that first half hour but we had to score a second goal during that dominant period and put the game to bed because if it was 2-0 at that stage it would have been a different story. They started the second half well and got their goal at a good time and it gave them a lift but we finished the game the better team and I thought we were going to get the winner, but we need to develop that killer instinct.”
It wasn’t for the want of trying. Elliott’s shot was tipped on to the post by Craig Samson in the 70th minute and then Doolan’s right-foot volley was saved by the keeper, who then made a superb save from close range from Elliott.
But it looked a done deal in the last seconds of the match when Elliott again was through on target but this time it was Kilmarnock sub Mark Stewart who thwarted him with a great tracking run and perfectly timed last-ditch tackle.
“I had a few chances but the last one was just an unbelievable tackle,” said Elliott. “I didn’t think he was that close to me. He got his side a point and it was unfortunate for us. We are disappointed we didn’t win.”