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St Johnstone 1 Partick Thistle 1: A late leveller is so galling …

IT should have been an afternoon to rest and be thankful for Tommy Wright as he took his place in the stand following a gall-bladder operation.

Yet it was the recovery of Partick Thistle and not that of the St Johnstone manager which would characterise this topsy-turvy afternoon in Perth, with Kris Doolan's injury-time leveller rescuing a point which never looked like coming for the Glasgow club.

Ahead after just nine minutes through a Stevie May strike, Wright's rehabilitation would have been aided no end as his team looked to be cruising towards their third league win in a week, albeit the hat-trick coming in his absence.

Instead his men were left licking their wounds as their pursuit of a Europa League place stalled, the gap between St Johnstone and fifth-placed Inverness remaining at four points with the Highlanders having played a game less.

"I've been under strict orders not to get too excited so I tried not to, I had the chairman beside me to keep me nice and calm," said Wright, who entrusted Callum Davidson and Alex Cleland with the team. "Callum and Alex have done a tremendous job in my absence, I trust them both with my life. I might wait another week before being back in the dugout - I'll see what the doctor and the wife say."

St Johnstone reinstated May, Frazer Wright and Brian Easton after the win over St Mirren midweek, with Gary Miller, Tim Clancy and David Wotherspoon making way. Stephen O'Donnell and Kallum Higginbotham both dropped out for Christie Elliott and Jordan McMillan from Thistle's midweek starting XI against Celtic.

Despite his down-time in midweek it took only nine minutes for May to put St Johnstone ahead. Steven MacLean collected the ball after a comedy of errors in the Thistle defence, his neat flick finding May on the edge of the area.

His low left-foot shot trundled its way beyond Paul Gallacher at the near post via the shin of Lee Mair for his 23rd goal of the season. His 24th should have come later in the first half - Lee Croft's smashed shot was parried straight to him in the middle of the box - but he could only guide his looping header on to the bar.

While the goal may have been one of few chances the home side carved out, they were dogged in their approach. Unfortunately for Thistle, their performance was less dogged and more excitable puppy; frantic, relentless, easily roused but ultimately harmless - until the last minute, that is.

Doolan collected the ball from Lyle Taylor on the edge of the area to weave past two challenges and wrap his right foot around the ball, sending his drive low across Alan Mannus.

He made a hash of the save as it broke from his grasp and went in. It was one of the few things St Johnstone's goalkeeper had to deal with despite the fact Thistle spent the majority of the second half bombing forward at will.

Prince Buaben's effort shortly after going behind was dealt with comfortably, while a flicked header by Chris Erskine from an Elliott cross landed on the roof of the net moments later. Erskine himself managed to turn his man on either side of the break to get a shot away, but both didn't force Mannus into a save, while Gary Fraser's long-range pop was charged down by Wright.

"You start to think the goal is never going to come," admitted Alan Archibald, whose Thistle side remain two points above St Mirren in the relegation play-off place. "St Johnstone defend really well and the goal came just in time. It all bodes well for going into the end-of-season run. We'll just keep on going."

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