TONY WATT lashed his first Hearts goal in the final minute to secure a dramatic win over Partick Thistle at Firhill.
Callum Paterson’s early headed goal had been cancelled out by Liam Lindsay, with Watt’s late intervention proving decisive.
Two bids from Wigan Athletic for Paterson have been refused by Tynecastle officials this month. They feel he is of more value if kept until the end of his contract next May. He illustrated why with a dominant display and a fine goal in Glasgow.
Thistle looked to have done enough for a deserved point having fashioned numerous scoring chances in both halves. Chris Erskine was a constant danger for them, and on another day his sorcery might have earned his team more.
Hearts pressed forward for much of the second half and, just when it looked like their efforts were in vain, Watt produced a classy finish from an acute angle. That was enough to see the visitors head back to Edinburgh with all three points.
With an unchanged team following last week’s 5-1 destruction of Inverness, Hearts emerged in front of more than 1,700 travelling fans. They weren’t too vocal during the opening exchanges, though. Thistle did most of the early attacking through the mobile and imposing forward Ade Azeez.
Jack Hamilton saved Kris Doolan’s low effort on 14 minutes and it required a last-ditch challenge by John Souttar to block the same player’s goalbound attempt moments later. Hearts responded emphatically and moved ahead on 16 minutes after seeing Conor Sammon’s shot deflected for a corner.
Sam Nicholson’s delivery was planted perfectly onto Paterson’s forehead for a bulleted header high into the net. Tomas Cerny in goal was virtually helpless due to Paterson’s impressive leap and aerial power.
Erskine forced Hamilton down to his right for another save, and the Scotland squad keeper also held Doolan’s shot to keep the hosts at bay. Thistle fashioned another decent chance as half-time neared. Erskine cleverly evaded two opponents and midfield snd slid a pass through for Azeez on the run. His shot was blocked by Souttar’s sliding tackle - one of several impressive interventions by the young Scot.
The unshakeable notion at the interval was that Alan Archibald’s team were unfortunate not to be level with Hearts. They had created more openings but couldn’t convert in a first half containing plenty quality passing moves. Their reward came not long after the restart.
Erskine forced two successive corners and, from the second, Lindsay climbed for a header which appeared to hit the underside of the bar and bounce down over the goal line. To eliminate doubt, Azeez forced the loose ball into the net to restore parity.
Hearts coach Robbie Neilson instantly replaced Nicholson with Jamie Walker and Sammon with Bjorn Johnsen. Walker had the first impact, a strike on the angle which Cerny beat away. The winger then clipped a corner in which Paterson met full-force on the volley, however he couldn’t control his effort sufficiently to keep it on target.
The Edinburgh side were now on top and pushing for a winning goal, but had to wait until the 89th minute. Cerny emerged to punch Cowie’s cross from the right and ended up grounded amid a clutter of bodies. Perry Kitchen won the loose ball at the edge of the area with his body, and the ball carried through to Watt for a fine finish from a tight angle to win the game for Hearts.
Cerny appealed that he had been fouled after punching, however referee Willie Collum rejected the keeper’s claims.
Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Cerny; Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Booth; Osman, Edwards; Erskine, Lawless, Doolan; Azeez.
69: Amoo for Azeez
77: Pogba for Doolan
Unused subs: Scully, Elliott, Wilson, McDaid, Syme, Pogba.
Hearts (4-4-2): Hamilton; Paterson, Souttar, Rossi, Rherras; Djoum, Cowie, Kitchen, Nicholson; Sammon, Watt.
58: Walker for Nicholson
58: Johnsen for Sammon
Unused subs: Noring, Ozturk, Buaben, Muirhead, L Smith.
Referee: Willie Collum.