[media-credit name=”Patrick McGuire | Scotzine” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]
Jackie McNamara fielded an unchanged side from last week’s 2-0 defeat to Raith Rovers, while Falkirk made one change with Jay Fulton coming in for Craig Sibbald.
Just two minutes into the game and Thistle came close to opening the scoring when Stephen O’Donnell picked up a cross from Cairney just outside the Falkirk box, before firing his shot just wide of the goal.
Falkirk were dealt a blow within the first ten minutes when Mark Millar was carried off after some length treatment on the pitch, with Blair Alston coming on in his place.
A minute on from that blow, Falkirk could have taken the lead after an audacious lob from El Alagui from just inside the Thistle box, but the striker put too much on it and it sailed over Scott Fox’s crossbar.
With twenty minutes gone, neither side created many clear-cut chances with both defences doing just enough to snuff out any sort of an attack.
On 24 minutes Kieran Duffie nicked the ball off the toe of Paul Cairney before driving forward, but his powerful strike sailed over and wide of Thistle’s goal.
Four minutes later and Thistle should have taken the lead. Aaron Sinclair sent a cross into the box, which Kris Doolan latched onto before heading past Michael McGovern in the Bairns goal but he could only watch on as it hit the post and away from danger.
Falkirk made Thistle pay for that missed chance as they opened up the scoring through the unmarked El Alagui to nod home a cross at the back post, for his six league goal of the season.
Just minutes before half time and Thistle saw another chance go begging. Paul Cairney cut the ball back to David Rowson, who fired his shot from edge of the box just wide of the Falkirk goal.
Falkirk threatened the Thistle goal once again with Stewart Murdoch rattling the cross-bar from long-range, but seconds later Partick launch a counter attack and a shot across goal from O’Donnell strikes the post and falls to Cairney who passes to Rowson outside of the box to bury the ball into the back of the Falkirk net to equalise.
On the hour mark, Thistle claimed for a penalty after an apparent handball was used to block David Rowson’s shot, but referee Willie Collum intimated that the ball had struck the chest of the Falkirk player much to the anger of the Jags fans.
It was end-to-end stuff now at Firhill with Scott Fox tested in the Thistle goal. Kieran Duffie collected the ball just outside the box, after some neat close control play he was rewarded with some space to fire a shot towards goal, but Fox managed to get a finger tip to the ball to guide it over the bar and out for a corner.
With both teams looking for a winner, El Alagui picked the ball up just inside the box before laying it off for Higginbotham but he could only fire his shot wide of the Jags goal. A minute later though Higginbotham stepped up to take a free kick 25 yards out from goal after a foul on Ryan Miller by Alan Archibald, despatching it past Fix with a superb strike to give Pressley’s side a 2-1 lead with minutes remaining.
But deep into injury time Thistle scored a dramatic equaliser as Chris Erskine smashed his shot past McGovern to secure a share of the spoils for Jackie McNamara’s side when it looked like they would see all three points head back to Falkirk.
After the game Falkirk manager Steven Pressley said: “Considering the way my young lads fought for everything maybe we should have won. But if you look at it you’d have to say a draw was a fair result.”
Jags manager Jackie McNamara was talking from the same hymn sheet as Pressley in his post-match comments: “We deserved at least a point and missed a couple of chances that could have won it but a draw might have been just about right.”
Partick: Fox, Paton, Balatoni, Archibald, Sinclair, Cairney, Hutton, Rowson, O’Donnell (Erskine 65), Doolan (Stewart 66), Elliot. Subs Not Used: Scully, Lindsay, Bannigan.
Goals: Rowson 48, Erskine 90.
Falkirk: McGovern, Duffie, Dods, Wallace, Scobbie (Rhys Bennett 58), Weatherston, Murdoch, Mark Millar (Alston 7), Jay Fulton (Ryan Millar 62), El Alagui, Higginbotham. Subs Not Used: Bowman, Dale Fulton.
Booked: Murdoch, Duffie.
Goals: El Alagui 35, Higginbotham 85.
Referee: Willie Collum