Dundee United at last showed some fighting spirit to deny Partick Thistle victory with a thrilling comeback at Tannadice.

An early goal by Freddie Frans and a second before half-time from Kris Doolan had Thistle in a commanding position, before an own goal from Frans gave the home side some hope.

Ryan Edwards looked to have extinguished that though with a little over ten minutes to go, heading home from close range after good work by David Amoo, before Edward Ofere hit what looked like no more than a late consolation for the home side.

Young substitute Justin Johnson had other ideas though, and he fired home a dramatic equaliser in injury time.

Thistle boss Alan Archibald gave a debut to 17-year-old James Penrice at left-back, and David Wilson was given another chance to impress in midfield.

United started with an adventurous-looking front four, and Simon Murray created an early chance after beating James Penrice on the right and cutting the ball back towards Matty Smith, but Ryan Scully got down to turn the ball behind at the near post.

Thistle hit the front though in their first meaningful attack after six minutes. Stevie Lawless fed Amoo on the right, and the winger hit the by-line before winning a corner off Paul Dixon.

Penrice swung a delightful ball in, where Frans arrived like a steam train to bullet the header past Eiji Kawashima.

Billy McKay headed just wide from Kyle Knoyle’s cross as United looked to respond, and then the striker stung the palms of Scully with a shot from outside the area.

There was little other action to speak of though until the 34th minute, when Stevie Lawless’s hopeful ball into the area was touched on by Amoo, and Sean Dillon made a mess of his attempted clearance to allow Doolan to latch onto the ball, coolly round Kawashima and roll into the empty net to double the visitor’s lead. It was the red-hot striker’s fourth goal in his last four matches, the first Thistle player to achieve the feat since James Grady in season 2003/04.

United were quickly out of the blocks in the second-half and forced a couple of corners before Smith wriggled past two challenges and fired inches wide.

Thistle weathered that storm though, and were content to sit in and comfortably soak up the little pressure they were coming under to that point.

There was a lovely touch on the 65th minute as the entire crowd rose to applaud the memory of Partick Thistle kitman Ricky Roughan, who sadly died aged 65 on Monday night after 25 years at the club.

United got a lifeline moments later, as a corner from Scott Fraser was flicked on by Dillon and the ball struck Frans's backside before rolling into the corner of the net.

Suddenly the game burst into life, as Thistle went up the other end and Edwards brought out a good block from Kawashima, before United almost benefitted from another own goal, as Penrice’s clearance struck Dan Seaborne and ricocheted just past the post.

United had built up a momentary head of steam, but Thistle thought they had put the result beyond doubt with 13 minutes remaining. Amoo did brilliantly on the right before firing over a cross from the by-line that Edwards headed into the roof of the net from close range.

That looked to be that, but Ofere collected the ball 12 yards out and slammed home under Ryan Scully with three minutes remaining to drag his side back into it.

Just as it looked as though the game was drifting away from the United though, young sub Johnson made his late intervention, picking the ball up on the edge of the area and drifting past a challenge before curling home a low, right-foot effort to deny Thistle the victory.