An injury time equaliser from Partick Thistle denied Dunfermline a victory which would have sealed their First Division survival. Despite drawing at home, it did not dampen the celebrations of the Thistle players and fans as they lifted the First Division title.
Dunfermline led the plaudits to First Division champions Partick Thistle by laying on a guard of honour to Alan Archibald’s men as they took to the field at Firhill, for the final time this season. That was followed by a soundtrack of cheers, applause and singing from the home supporters as they celebrated their return to the SPL for the first time in ten years.
Four minutes into match and Thistle were awarded a free kick after Chris Erskine was fouled some 20 yards from goal by Shaun Byrne. From the resulting set piece, Ross Forbes failed to test Michael Hrivnak in the Pars goal, as the ball sailed well over the bar.
Three minutes later and the visitors threatened the Thistle goal, Josh Falkingham made a great solo run to the byline before cutting the ball back across the face of goal but there were no team mates there to put Scott Fox under pressure and the keeper, making his 101st appearance for the Jags today, gathered the ball comfortably.
18 minutes played and we had our first booking of the game as Calum Morris went into the referees book, fouling a robust challenge on Chris Erskine, as he was set to race through along the flank.
Two minutes later, Thistle had a great chance to take the lead, after some neat one touch passing, Chris Erskine raced into the box with the ball but rather than hitting it first time, he decided to take a touch first and this gave the Pars defence time to get back and clear the danger.
26 minutes gone and Thistle broke the deadlock, thanks to home debutant Jordan McMillan against his former side. Neat play from Chris Erskine tee’d up the former Pars skipper in the box to fire past Hrivnak. As the home fans celebrated, McMillan kept his celebrations under wraps against his former employers. That goal also saw a section of the Pars support applaud their former skipper.
Alex Whittle then laid a perfect cross for his Pars team mates on 30 minutes as his ball from the left flashed across the face of the Thistle goal, but with no takers the ball was put out for a corner kick.
38 minutes gone and Pars managed to get a shot on goal after being pegged back since the opening goal, as John Potter headed a free kick ball towards goal, but it lacked pace and Fox was not troubled as he clutched the ball to his chest.
Andy Dowie, playing against his former employers also for the first time since being made redundant, nearly doubled Thistle’s lead on 40 minutes, but his downward header from a corner was palmed away by the full stretch Hrivnak, before the danger was cleared.
Falkingham, who was looking to be the only Pars player at times to cause problems for the Thistle defence, proved again what a wriggly little character he was as he jinked his way through the Thistle defence but his shot was deflected just wide of the Thistle far post seconds before the half time whistle.
Into the second half and the songs continued to flow from the home support, as their side looked to extend their lead over Jim Jefferies side.
But it was Dunfermline who nearly got the first goal of the second half on 55 minutes, however they were denied by a goal line clearance from McMillan.
Thistle again were caught at the back as Alan Smith played a superb ball into the middle of the Jags box, Ryan Thomson dummied the ball which left Ryan Wallace free and with time to tee up a shot – but the outstretched legs of Fox denied the half time substitute.
On 58 minutes, Thistle made their first change of the game with Christie Elliott making way for Stephen O’Donnell.
Three minutes later and Dunfermline brought on Andy Geggan for Shaun Byrne.
The writing was on the wall for Thistle with those scares, as Dunfermline hauled themselves back into the match thanks to substitute Wallace. Stephen Husband picked up Wallace on the edge of the box with a neat pass, before the Dunfermline player fired a shot low into the bottom corner of the Jags goal past the helpless Fox.
From the restart Husband could have been handed a red card for a reckless tackle on Chris Erskine near the centre circle, however referee Willie Collum handed the Dunfermline midfielder a yellow, much to the anger of the home support.
Soon after, Thistle made their second substitution of the match, as they brought on Kris Doolan for Mark McGuigan.
Dunfermline pushed forward again as they looked to spoil the title party, but Wallace’s shot on 70 minutes was saved once again by Fox before being cleared by an under pressure Thistle defence.
Then a moment of controversy just a minute later, Andy Dowie was hauled back by a Dunfermline attacker, Ryan Wallace took advantage to fire past Fox to make it 2-1 to Jefferies side.
Thistle fans and players remonstrated with the referee but the goal somehow stood. It was a moment of absurd refereeing, that Collum seems to be comfortable with at times and that decision was up there with some of his worst.
79 minutes gone and it looked as though Thistle’s defence were thinking more about the post match party than the game itself, as they gifted Dunfermline their third goal of the game. Ryan Thomson latched onto an attempted overhead kick by a team mate, to fire low past Fox to make it 3-1 to the Pars.
Thistle pulled a goal back on 83 minutes through Dundee United bound Chris Erskine, as he forced his way through the Pars defence before striking the ball low and under Hrivnak to make it 2-3.
Into injury time, both Sinclair and Hrivnak collided on the goal line as they went for the same ball, ending up with both physios coming on to treat the duo.
In the final minute of injury time, Thistle scored a dramatic leveller through Steven Lawless. That was the last action of the game as the final whistle signalled party time for Partick Thistle and their supporters.
Partick : Fox, McMillan, Dowie, Balatoni, Sinclair, Elliot (Stephen O’Donnell 59), Forbes (Craig 82), Bannigan, Lawless, McGuigan (Doolan 67), Erskine. Subs Not Used: Daniels, Wilson.
Dunfermline : Hrivnak, Millen, Morris, Potter (Wallace 46), Whittle, Byrne (Geggan 62), Husband, Young, Falkingham, Smith, Thomson (Drummond 90). Subs Not Used: Goodfellow, Munro.
Att : 5,663
Ref : William Collum