Johnston: Positives despite late Partick leveller

Craig Slater, left, holds off Partick's James Craig in the hard-fought draw. Picture: SNS
Craig Slater, left, holds off Partick's James Craig in the hard-fought draw. Picture: SNS
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KILMARNOCK manager Allan Johnston stomached the bitter pill of a late Partick Thistle equaliser on Saturday ­afternoon but insisted his players should take “a lot of positives” from their 2-2 home draw.

Kilmarnock 2-2 Partick Thistle

Scorers: Kilmarnock - Magennis (33), Pascali (79); Partick Thistle - Stevenson (2), Frans (84)

Former Hearts midfielder Ryan ­Stevenson opened the scoring at Rugby Park with a precise second-minute ­finish from outside the box, before Kilmarnock hit back to lead with goals from Josh Magennis and Manuel Pascali.

Thistle defender Frederic Frans struck seven minutes from the end to give his side a share of the spoils after he reacted instinctively to Declan McDaid’s shot from the edge of the box.

The draw halted a run of three defeats for Kilmarnock, and Johnston said: “I thought the fans were brilliant. Even when we lost the early goal, you’re thinking ‘here we go – we’re going to be under pressure’, but a lot’s got to be said about the players as well, the way they stood up to that and the fans got right behind them.

“There were a lot of positives there.”

Rory McKenzie, who set up Magennis for Kilmarnock’s first goal, earned the sponsor’s man-of-the-match award and also took the plaudits from his manager.

“There were a lot of good individual performances. Rory McKenzie, I thought he was everywhere, caused them a lot of problems,” Johnston said.

“Josh Magennis was back to the striker that he was at the start of the ­season, and we’re going to need that kind of performance between now and the end of the season.”

The draw means Partick Thistle are still looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since coming up to the Premiership.

Thistle were optimistic they would be able to do it against Kilmarnock after their 5-0 win over Hamilton on Wednesday, but having trailed 2-1 ­approaching the final ten minutes of the match they returned home relieved.

Partick manager Alan Archibald said: “They’re a hard team to play against. I think Kilmarnock did really well in the second half.

“We showed great character and desire to keep going and when young Declan McDaid came on I thought he gave us a real lift with his pace and his energy as well, and they couldn’t really cope.”

Archibald was quick to praise goalscorer Stevenson for his efforts over ­recent weeks.

He said: “It was a great goal from Ryan. He’s on fire at the moment and long may it continue.

“He’s been playing really well, linking up with Dools [Kris Doolan], so he’s been good.”