Partick Thistle 1-2 St Mirren: McLean the hero

Partick goalscorer Kris Doolan tries to shake off Marc McAusland (right). Pic: SNS
Partick goalscorer Kris Doolan tries to shake off Marc McAusland (right). Pic: SNS
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A hotly-disputed 94th-minute penalty kick was enough to give St Mirren their first win of the season and lift them off the bottom of the table.

SCORERS - Partick Thistle: Doolan 22; St Mirren - Ball 60, McLean 90 (pen)

The future of manager Tommy Craig had been the subject of speculation going into this contest and it is unlikely that he could have survived a sixth successive defeat.

In truth, that outcome looked on the cards during a first half in which Saints had been comprehensively outplayed.

They were fortunate to be just the one goal behind at the break but some inspired substitutions by Craig saw fortune favour the brave.

Partick were first out of the blocks and Kallum Higginbotham saw a shot deflected behind for a corner by Jason Naismith inside the first minute.

Referee Willie Collum had already allowed a few over-zealous challenges to go unpunished by the time he cautioned Jeroen Tesselaar for a cynical foul on Jordan McMillan in the seventh minute.

Former Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson came close in the 17th minute with a snapshot from 20 yards which caught Marian Kello flat-footed but flew wide of his left-hand post.

Given the constant pressure from the hosts a goal seemed inevitable and it duarrived midway through the first half.

The visitors were aggrieved they had not been awarded a foul for a challenge on James Marwood but Thistle played to the whistle and, when Steven Lawless delivered an inviting cross from the left, Kris Doolan peeled away from his marker, Ellis Plummer, to send a downward header behind Kello from 12 yards.

Doolan really ought to have added a second four minutes later. Lawless was the architect once again, this time with an artfully disguised reverse pass, but Doolan scuffed his shot wastefully wide.

Thistle were superior in every department. With lone striker James Marwood often isolated 30 yards in front of his nearest team-mate and reduced to chasing lost causes down the channels, this encounter resembled a top-flight club taking on one of the lesser lights from the lower divisions in a cup tie.

Isaac Osbourne and Higginbotham were cautioned for rash fouls on Jake Carroll and Jim Goodwin respectively as both sides upped the ante in what was already a fairly tenacious contest.

Surprisingly, Craig elected not to make any personnel changes at the interval, although Kenny McLean had clearly been asked to provide more support for Marwood.

John McGinn was handed another shooting opportunity when Stuart Bannigan brought down Goodwin (earning himself a caution in the process) but Scott Fox punched his attempt clear.

With nothing to lose, Craig made a double substitution, with Callum Ball and Thomas Reilly replacing Gregg Wylde and Marwood and the change did them good when the former restored parity on the hour mark.

Tesselaar was the unlikely provider with an inviting cross and Ball poked it home, left-footed, from six yards.

Former Derby Country striker Ball would have put the Buddies in front minutes later if it hadn’t been for a goal-saving block by Aaron Muirhead just as he was about to pull the trigger.

Thistle attempted to claw their way back into the contest by sending on recent signing Nathan Eccleston for his first appearance in place of Doolan.

Goodwin came close to putting the Buddies in front with a free-kick which shaved the outside of Fox’s far post in the 82nd minute but that first league win was proving to be elusive.

When Fox dived to his right to palm away a free-kick from McLean deep into stoppage time, it seemed as though a point would be their prize.

However, Marc McAusland refused to give it up. He caught the loose ball and, when his cross struck Abdul Osman on the arm, referee Collum had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Thistle protested in vain and McLean then displayed great composure to calmly step up and despatch his conversion straight down the middle.