Bottom-of-the-table Linlithgow, without a league win this season, won their share of the spoils against their mid-table hosts due to a defensive error that gifted the visitors a late equaliser.
Blustery conditions at Riccarton resulted in several yellow cards being shown for a series of misjudged tackles, but Tollcross were able to fashion enough clear-cut opportunities that should have seen them claim a comfortable win. But, the Edinburgh side failed to capitalise on their dominant possession and Linlithgow opened the scoring through striker Graham Orr.
Tollcross did, however, take a 2-1 lead into half-time through goals by Mark Robertson and Stewart O’Neill, but a defensive mistake by Tollcross captain Rees Allan allowed Nicky Miller to equalise.
The opener came after half-an-hour. Linlithgow broke down field and scored against the run of play. Barry Skene fed the ball up the right wing to Nicky Miller, who played a defence-splitting pass to Graham Orr and, from the edge of the area, the striker placed the ball into the right bottom corner past Gary Burgess in the Tollcross goal.
Within ten minutes, Tollcross were back in the game by virtue of a well-worked team goal that was finished off by striker Mark Robertson. John Lawson picked the ball up on the halfway line and drove at the defence, skipping past two challenges before releasing Robertson who had timed his run past the Linlithgow back line with perfection. Within a flash, Robertson fired the ball home past both the outstretched hand of Scott Bruce and the lunge of defender Skene to level the match.
Within five minutes of the restart, Tollcross took the lead as O’Neill delicately flicked the ball home with his heel to finish off a move he had started himself. The midfield maestro collected the ball just inside his own half before delivering it to the right wing to Andy O’Hare, who darted towards goal and, shaping to shoot, O’Hare outwitted the Linlithgow defence with a precise pass to striker Sean Mossman on the edge of the area. Mossman created just enough space to drive a ball to the near post where O’Neill, whose run into the box went unnoticed, back-heeled the ball home to give his side a 2-1 half-time lead.
The second half proved a mirror image of the first, whereby Tollcross persisted with their onslaught on the Linlithgow goal, but failed to convert countless opportunities.
And it cost them as Linlithgow nicked an equaliser by capitalising on a defensive blunder.
Home skipper Allan broke up a Linlithgow attack and passed the ball back towards goalkeeper Gary Burgess. However, Allan was blind to the presence of Linlithgow striker Miller, who stole in and fired the ball home from the edge of the box to give the visitors a share of the points.
Linlithgow coach Graham Law believed his team did well to get something out of the game after not playing a match since November. He said: “We are really pleased to get a point against a very good side.”
Alan Mackay, Tollcross manager was disappointed not to win the game after creating so many chances: “Unfortunately defensively we let in two sloppy goals, something that we can’t keep on doing.”
Tollcross Thistle: Gary Burgess, Graham Nisbet, Chris Cornhill, Rees Allan, Greig Hogarth, John Lawson, Andy O’Hare, Stewart O’Neill, Sean Mossman, Mark Robertson, Lee Heinemeir, Monday Ogbobi, Callum Roberts, Elliott Black, Steven Moncur, James McNamara.
Linlithgow Thistle: Scott Bruce, Barry Skene, Paul Lacki, Barrie Hesketh, Robert Sommerville, Wayne Meikle, Nicky Miller, Graham Orr, Kenny Hughes, Russell Maxwell, Andrew Deans, Craig Hastle, Leo Hewitt, David Grant.