Partick Thistle supporters could probably do their blood pressure a favour by leaving matches a few minutes early.
I suppose we should be grateful that the Firhill side seem determined to go out of their way to keep the race for the top six interesting, but even by their standards, the manner in which they let victory slip from their grasp here would have been hard to stomach.
Chris Erskine had the visitors ahead with a little over 20 minutes remaining with a goal that had been coming since the start of a second half that Thistle had dominated. No one could have predicted what would happen next though, as the normally reliable Cerny handled a powder-puff shot from Connor Sammon like a salmon on a trawler deck, somehow letting the ball squirm from his grasp and nestle into the bottom corner of the net.
Loading article content
That is successive weeks now that Thistle have blown winning positions late on, but despite their obvious frustrations, no one was pointing the finger at their crestfallen goalkeeper.
“Tomas has been outstanding and has saved us points into double figures in the last two seasons,” said his manager, Alan Archibald.
“It’s one error and, hopefully, that’s him done – I don’t remember him making one at all last season.
“So, it wasn’t down to us playing too deep or bad defending, which made it different from last week.
“I spoke to Tomas briefly about it and I think he could see one of their strikers running in and that made him take his eye off the ball.
“He’s a deep guy and the ultimate professional so he’ll feel it, but he’s been outstanding for us and it was just one of those things.”
Kilmarnock had started brightly, and Sean Longstaff almost redeemed himself for wearing gloves on a positively balmy Ayrshire afternoon by firing an early shot just over.
One of Lee McCulloch’s trademark ‘conga corners’ almost paid off as Scott Boyd broke free from the line of players on the edge of the box to head towards the top corner, but Cerny was able to tip over, before Christie Elliott did enough to deflect a Sammon effort over from a couple of yards out.
The visitors were growing into the game as the half wore on though, and Stevie Lawless looped a shot over Freddie Woodman on the bounce that crashed back off the face of the crossbar.
It was Thistle who were in the ascendency from then on, and the visiting fans were out of their seats as Adam Barton caught a half-volley sweetly that screamed past Woodman but found the inside of the post, spun across the line and somehow stayed out.
They were able to celebrate just three minutes later though. A clever ball down the line with the outside of his boot from Stevie Lawless found Elliott charging forward, and his cross into the area was headed at goal by Erskine. The ball was blocked but landed back at his feet, and he swept home under Woodman.
They looked to be coasting towards the victory from there, but the crushing blow that the 1000-plus travelling support feared arrived with three minutes remaining, as Sammon hit a speculative shot from 25 yards that Cerny could have thrown his cap on. Instead, he helped it into the net, and from there the home side might even have won it.
Kris Boyd had a goal ruled out for a foul, but as it was, the fortuitous draw was welcomed by a relieved Lee McCulloch.
“In the second half up until 75 minutes, Partick were brilliant,” he said. “They were hard to deal with because they are a good team.
“I’m delighted with the character of the boys in terms of getting themselves back into the game.
“Partick probably feel like we were a bit lucky but with the amount of hard work we have put in, I believe in this game you make your own luck.”
KILMARNOCK: Woodman; Hendrie, Boyd, Ajer, Taylor; McKenzie, Longstaff (Wilson, 72’), Dicker, Jones (Umerah, 78’); Sammon, Boyd.
Scorer: Sammon (87’)
Booked: Hendrie (36’)
PARTICK THISTLE: Cerny; Dumbuya, Lindsay, Keown, Elliott; Osman, Barton; Edwards, Erskine (Azeez, 90’), Lawless (Devine, 87’); Doolan.
Scorer: Erskine (73’)
Referee: John Beaton