At the bottom of the table, heading for automatic relegation, Partick Thistle needed a goal to keep their season alive. Just as well they had a club legend waiting in the wings.
The Firhill faithful already worship at the feet of Kris Doolan and he gave them another reason to do so just seven minutes after coming on as a second half substitute. His 101st league goal for the club must be considered among his most important. While a late equaliser at McDiarmid Park would ultimately render the result at Dens Park insignificant on paper, there is no telling what impact Doolan’s intervention had on the Ross County players as they tried in vain to cling to their narrow lead.
Thistle can now save their Premiership status with a victory over Livingston in the play-off final. Even though it’s been a miserable campaign for Alan Archibald’s men, this result, coupled with history favouring the top flight side in these two-legged battles, should see them go into the head-to-head with confidence they’ll complete the job.
“I thought it was important to get the win because we could use that little bit of momentum,” said Archibald.
“Our performances after the split have been good but that’s only our second victory.”
Just 90 seconds had passed at Dens when news of a County goal filtered through. The vocal away crowd were quickly subdued, though they were nearly given reason to be cheerful when Adam Barton’s header forced home debutant Calum Ferrie into a terrific save.
The visitors couldn’t maintain their strong start as Dundee began to get a foothold. Paul McGowan sparkled in the centre and he went close twice in as many minutes before the half-hour mark.
It was therefore a blow for the hosts (and for County) that McGowan was soon forced off with a hamstring strain. He had been the best player on the park and his absence was keenly felt. Thistle ended the half the stronger, with Barton fresh-air swiping at a cross with the goal gaping before Miles Storey thundered wide.
Storey was replaced by Blair Spittal for the second period. The sub almost had an immediate impact as his corner saw Danny Devine force Ferrie into a save.
It was then time for Doolan to make his priceless intervention. Running on to a through ball by Steven Lawless, the striker flicked a finish beyond the advancing Ferrie, sending the away fans into delirium.
Dundee would apply some late pressure with Simon Murray seeing a shot blocked and Randy Wolters forcing a save from Tomas Cerny. Thistle’s reprieve was finally guaranteed a minute into stoppage time when happier news arrived from McDiarmid Park.