PARTICK Thistle have still to settle at Firhill this season, but yesterday they at least added a few homely touches around the place.
One of those brought a goal and a draw with Dundee United, Gary Fraser's deflected effort allowing his side to come from behind in Glasgow and keep up with Ross County in the SPFL Premiership table. It was not enough to lift them out of the relegation play-off spot, but league points are still preferable to sore ones.
Those were left to United. Manager Jackie McNamara later tried to build a case for a penalty when Stuart Armstrong went down in the penalty area during the first half, but found more compelling evidence to convict Jordan McMillan of an ugly challenge on Andrew Robertson after the break. "I thought the boy stamped on him," said McNamara. "We didn't even get a free kick."
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Robertson had already stamped his own involvement on the game when he strode into the box after 28 minutes and squared a pass to Farid El Alagui. The forward then turned a shot into the net for his first goal since arriving on loan from Brentford.
Former Dundee United midfielder Prince Buaben made his first start for Thistle just a day after completing a loan move from Carlisle United. He was one of four players signed last month to start yesterday - on-loan West Ham United midfielder George Moncur was named among the substitutes - with Thistle aiming to find strength in numbers.
This appeared hopeful at first, since statistics have often undermined the Glasgow side's campaign so far. This, after all, is a season in which bottom side Hearts have scored as many goals and won more games than Thistle, with the Firhill side's last home league win seeming increasingly like a significant moment in time. It fell on a match against Morton on April 10, 2012.
The gap since that victory grew a little wider yesterday and supporters' patience began to drain through it before Fraser's equaliser. Thistle fans engaged in dry wit once their side fell behind, one section aiming barbs at the United management team, who once sat in the home dugout. The Tannadice side muffled the mirth brusquely minutes later as, first, El Alagui had two efforts smuggled by Thistle goalkeeper Paul Gallacher before Nadir Ciftci squandered an opportunity to double his side's lead.
It gave the impression that Thistle were in for a hiding, one which was made that much more believable when Lyle Taylor contrived to push a shot wide of United's goal just before half-time and substitute Kris Doolan later failed to find the net from inside the six-yard box.
"Things just weren't falling for us," said Thistle manager Alan Archibald. "We had Conrad Balatoni hit a post as well. We didn't look like we were going to get the goal."
It took the intervention of United midfielder John Rankin to soften the blow. Thistle had been invited back into the game as the visitors proved unable to close out the win - Stuart Armstrong shot wide after trading passes with Mackay-Steven - and Fraser accepted it with alacrity. The midfielder collected the ball on the edge of the box after 75 minutes and an attempted block from Rankin deflected the shot into the far corner.
"We invited a bit of pressure on to ourselves in the second half," added McNamara, who introduced Ryan Gauld as a substitute after the teenage forward had been given a short break in Spain last month. "I thought we stopped passing the ball and at times we looked a bit nervous, maybe fell a bit too deep. That made it hard for the forwards to go and press the ball."