SPEAKING on Saturday morning at the unveiling of the gravestone for Dan McMichael, the last Hibs manager to win the Scottish Cup 111 years ago, the new man in the Easter Road hotseat, Terry Butcher, revealed that he liked to beat teams from Glasgow – all of them.
Hibernian 1 (Collins, 90) Partick Thistle 1 (Doolan, 47)
He had to settle for a draw against one of them on Saturday, courtesy of a James Collins goal that robbed Partick Thistle of what looked like certain victory. To be fair to Hibs, though, their energetic efforts deserved the point.
Hibs started on the attack, and Lewis Stevenson forced a fine early save from Scott Fox who parried the midfielder’s fierce right-foot shot behind his goal.
Paul Hanlon went upfield at a corner shortly afterwards and should have hit the target but could only head Liam Craig’s cross wide.
Thistle’s first two forays into the Hibs box ended disappointingly for them, Steven Lawless and Kallum Higginbotham both shooting too straight at Ben Williams. The
latter Thistle player looked to be the visitors’ main threat with his strong running, but like Hibs, Higginbotham and his colleagues just could not manufacture clear chances.
Though there was a lack of quality on show, there was no doubting the effort being put in by both teams who were evenly matched through the first quarter.
To their credit, they also both seemed keen to move forward down the wings but the cross balls from there were usually dealt with comfortably.
The Hibs fans got a glimpse at home for the first time of Butcher’s motivational qualities, the new manager prowling his technical area and bellowing instructions to individual players.
Partick suffered a blow after 32 minutes when Lawless went down as if poleaxed and had to be carried off the field, all sides of the stadium sportingly applauding as the injured man departed on a stretcher. Ross Forbes came on and made a more than adequate contribution.
As the half wore on, and at times it was wearing indeed, Hibs had the greater part of possession, but could make no impact in the final third until Ryan McGivern decided to ignore that part of the field entirely and let fly from nearly 40 yards, Fox just managing to reach the ball low to his left and turning it past the post.
The Hibs defence had a more solid look about it, as you might expect from players coached by Butcher. When Thistle finally found a way through and had their first real chance of the second quarter, Williams saved well from Higginbotham.
Dan McMichael’s family were guests of the club at the match and were introduced to the crowd on the pitch at half-time. The applause for them showed how important the memory of the legendary manager remains to the Easter Road faithful.
Forbes showed Thistle’s intentions at the start of the second half with a long-distance effort that Williams gathered at the second attempt.
Four minutes into the half, Owain Tudur Jones tried a similar shot at the other end, forcing Fox to make a fine save low down.
The ball was cleared upfield to Kris Doolan on halfway and it turned into a straight race between him and Jordon Forster, who will be glad he signed his contract extension earlier in the week as he was lobbed and comprehensively skinned by Doolan. The Thistle striker still had work to do as he stormed past Hanlon into the Hibs box where his chip shot over and round Williams was perfection.
A terrific goal, and Thistle took charge for a spell, but after Butcher replaced the ineffective Danny Handling with Abdellah Zoubir, Hibs perked up, though they kept on perishing on the midfield rock that was Isaac Osbourne.
On the hour mark, Hibs should have had an equaliser when the ball bobbled to James Collins and he could only sclaff his volley, allowing Fox to save in athletic fashion. It was Collins who again wasted a chance after 72 minutes, heading straight at Fox.
Hibs were trying their hardest at this point, but it was Forbes who nearly killed them off after 76 minutes, breaking clean through and collecting a fortunate deflection only to shoot past the post.
Butcher then nearly performed the miraculous, sending on Jason Cummings for Lewis Stevenson. Within seconds, Cummings found himself in front of an open goal courtesy of a Forster knockdown, but the new arrival just could not steer the ball home.
The manager’s next substitution really was inspired, with Michael Nelson sent on for Alan Maybury.
In the third minute of injury time and with practically everybody in the Thistle box, Williams launched a free kick from his own half to the edge of the visitors’ penalty area where none other than Nelson met it with purpose, directing his header to Collins, who this time made no mistake and buried the ball behind Fox for the equaliser.
MAN OF THE MATCH Isaac Osbourne (Partick) The holding midfielder showed how that position should be played.
Hibs: Williams, McGivern, Hanlon, Forster, Maybury (Nelson 88), Stevenson (Cummings 75), Craig, Jones, Cairney, Handling (Zoubir 60), Collins. Subs not used: Murdoch, Taiwo, Caldwell, Thomson.
Booked: Collins, Maybury.
Partick: Fox, McMillan, Muirhead, De la Vega, Taylor-Sinclair, Higginbotham (Baird 70), Elliot, Osbourne, Lawless (Forbes 32), Doolan (Lindsay 91), Craigen. Subs not used: Gallacher, Wilson, Meechan.
Booked: Elliot, Doolan.
Ref: J Beaton