Line call provides relief for Hearts' Ross Callachan
The 23-year-old grabbed his second goal in three games since signing from Raith Rovers when he got his head on a Manuel Milinkovic cross with only ten minutes remaining.
Despite Thistle defender Danny Devine’s valiant attempt to clear the ball off the line, referee Don Robertson awarded the goal to the delight of a 2,000-strong travelling support.
Callachan admitted he was relieved to see the goal given, saying: “I wasn’t sure if it crossed the line. I didn’t really have a good view of it but a few of the boys told me it was over.
“I just looked at the linesman and I saw his flag was down and I knew it had been given – it was a relief. There were few complaints from their players so I think they were sure it crossed the line.
“These things don’t always go for you, but thankfully it did today and we got the point at a tough venue.”
The draw maintains Hearts’ unbeaten record under the stewardship of Craig Levein and the ex-Scotland manager’s appointment has had a stabilising effect on the club’s performances.
This was a game that Hearts may have lost during Ian Cathro’s troubled regime, during which the integrity and commitment of the players were routinely questioned.
Callachan believes those criticisms were unjustified and his team-mates are beginning to answer their critics, adding: “Being a Hearts fan you want the club to do well. I think it shows on the park that I’ve got a bit of passion. We want to do well for the fans in the stand and it’s good for them to recognise that.”
Although the visitors improved after half time, Partick Thistle edged the first half and looked a constant threat, especially through the dangerous Blair Spittal.
The 21-year-old midfielder is proving to be a fantastic piece of business since signing on a free from Dundee United in the summer and Hearts were unable to cope with his darting runs from midfield.
The warning signs came after only five minutes when Spittal, after ignoring the run of Miles Storey, dragged a shot narrowly wide of the post before sending a volley over the bar.
Unperturbed, Spittal eventually opened the scoring after 18 minutes thanks to a dreadful error by Hearts goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who calamitously spilled the ball through his legs after Spittal was allowed to run unchallenged from the right-hand side and shoot straight at the goalkeeper.
The hosts, still searching for their first win of the season, came close to doubling their advantage on the stroke of half time, but were thwarted by the increasingly impressive John Souttar.
The defender, knocking on the door of Gordon Strachan’s Scotland squad, cleared the ball off the line after Adam Barton had beaten McLaughlin to Miles Storey’s floated cross.
Both sides looked to win the game in a frantic last ten minutes but neither had a real clean-cut chance and both managers agreed a draw was a fair outcome.
Thistle’s Devine, though, was convinced he cleared Callachan’s effort off the line, declaring: “At the time I didn’t think it was a goal, and I still don’t think it was. There’s no way that the whole of the ball was over the line, but you can’t do anything about it and you have to move on.
“We’ve had three tough games against three top sides and it’s been encouraging for us. I think in all three games we’ve done ourselves justice. We had to dig deep and you can see that we were a wee bit leggy towards the end.”