It was a fixture whose outcome produced contrasting fortunes for its participants, with Thistle finally moving out of the bottom two while Motherwell dropped out of the top six.
Both managers felt afterwards that their team deserved to have won but, in truth, Motherwell were the stronger of the two and should have claimed the victory; as it is, they have now tasted success in just one of their last 12 league games.
“Trevor Carson hasn’t had a save to make the whole match but we didn’t deserve the three points because we didn’t mark properly from a free-kick,” said their manager Stephen Robinson.
The home side were first out of the traps and Tomas Cerny produced a fine reflex save to keep out Nadir Ciftci’s header from Craig Tanner’s cross.
At the other end, Thistle midfielder Ryan Edwards ought to have at least hit the target with a header from point-blank range after Miles Story had picked him out with a sumptuous cross.
Openings were few and far between during the opening 45 minutes but home striker Curtis Main was guilty of a glaring miss in the 38th minute.
Sent clear by Craig Tanner’s perfectly-judged ball over Thistle’s back three, he seemed to be unsure as to whether he should put his laces through the ball or chip the goalkeeper. He settled on a weak, lofted finish and Cerny was able to push it away. The first half had been dour bordering on dull but the tempo quickened after the break. Cerny produced another excellent stop to deny Motherwell Ciftci again and Thistle, galvanised by that escape, raced to the other end and opened the scoring.
Richard Tait, a half-time substitute for debutant Stephen Hendrie, believed he had prevented that possibility when he cynically brought down Ryan Edwards on the left flank, collecting a caution for his trouble.
However, slack defending at the free-kick fired in by Martin Woods allowed Kris Doolan to head home from close range.
Motherwell could have crumbled at that stage but they redoubled their efforts and laid siege to Thistle’s goal. Main had the ball in the net but his header was ruled out because he was in an offside position.
Their persistence paid off ten minutes from the end when Charles Dunne and McHugh combined to supply Nadir Ciftci.
The forward, on loan from Celtic, rolled Adam Barton and beat Cerny low to his right from 16 yards.
A home win looked more likely from that point on and the hosts had enough possession to warrant it but Thistle came closest to claiming all three points in stoppage time when a shot from Blair Spittal was deflected inches wide of the far post by Dunne.
“I thought we should have won it,” said Thistle manager Alan Archibald. “Our shape was reasonably good, we looked comfortable and we dealt with a lot of balls into the box. We should also have dealt with the one at their equaliser and kept Ciftci away from goal but he had a half-chance and he put it away.”