FIRHILL lived up to its reputation for providing thrills but it was Dunfermline who were celebrating after a dramatic cup tie.
Three weeks ago, the Pars got a 5-1 hammering in the league at the Maryhill venue but they claimed some revenge as Thistle collapsed to their first home defeat of the season in a game which saw two red cards, a missed penalty and a mini-brawl as tempers flared in stoppage time.
The outcome delighted East End Park manager Jim Jefferies who admitted he suffered a few anxious moments.
“We squandered a lot of chances,” he said. “I don’t know how many times we had three against one and didn’t make it count. At 1-0 there is always a danger, especially from set pieces against a side like Thistle, but we defended well.”
Thistle edged the early possession without being able to penetrate a well-organised Pars defence in which Andy Dowie and Callum Morris excelled. Instead it was Dunfermline who created the first clear-cut opening when Andy Geggan’s threaded pass sent Craig Dargo darting into the home box. The veteran striker steadied himself before seeing his angled drive blocked by the diving Graeme Smith.
Thistle responded with a spell of sustained attacking during which the dead-ball expertise of Ross Forbes had the visitors on the back foot several times.
Dargo threatened again but Smith did enough to turn the striker’s deft shot wide. And the game turned decisively in Dunfermline’s favour during two disastrous minutes for Thistle. First the home side were reduced to ten men when Aaron Muirhead hauled down Dargo who was through on the edge of the box. Partick were still re-organising their defence when Dunfermline cashed in. Josh Falkingham found space on the right flank and his cross picked out the unmarked Andy Barrowman, pictured, whose eight-yard header flew high into the net.
The Jags settled into a patient passing game on the restart and a long period of possession almost brought reward when Forbes turned neatly on the edge of the box and saw his shot swept off the six-yard line.
At the other end Ryan Thomson’s 20 yard snapshot flew wide of Smith’s left-hand upright. Then Jordan McMillan beat two defenders before firing inches wide.
Smith produced a brilliant double block to deny Stephen Husband and Joe Cardle as the extra man began to tell. However, Thistle were handed the perfect chance to draw level in 73 minutes when Chris Erskine was upended in the box by Geggan and the referee pointed to the spot.
However, Forbes’ penalty was brilliantly touched on to a post by Paul Gallacher before being scrambled clear by Stephen Jordan. Thistle refused to throw in the towel and a sweeping move culminated in Erskine’s drilled shot being brilliantly pushed away by Gallacher.
At the other end Dunfermline squandered a series of chances to catch Thistle on the break.
Barrowman blotted his copy book with two late yellow cards as tempers flared in stoppage time.
Thistle boss Jackie McNamara said: “I’m proud the way the players kept battling. I’d need to see the sending-off incident to say if it was a red card but Dargs [Craig Dargo] used his experience and that was the key.”