Partick Thistle 1 - 1 Hearts: Callachan strikes to earn draw

Goalscorer Ross Callachan battles against Ryan Edwards. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy
Goalscorer Ross Callachan battles against Ryan Edwards. Picture: SNS/Craig Foy
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Hearts made it three games unbeaten under Craig Levein after a late equaliser from Ross Callachan secured a hard-earned point at Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

The Tynecastle side started slackly and fell behind after an error from goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin allowed Blair Spittal to score for Partick Thistle. However, Hearts came on strong after the break and were well worth their equaliser, when Callachan headed in his second goal since arriving from Raith Rovers last month.

Hearts made three personnel changes to the side that started in the win over Hamilton Accies a week previously. Arnaud Djoum and Kyle Lafferty dropped out through injury to be replaced by Don Cowie and the fit-again Connor Randall, while Aaron Hughes returned to central defence, with Rafal Grzelak moving out to left-wing-back and Ashley Smith-Brown dropping to the bench.

Thistle, without a league win all season, threatened in the fourth minute when Spittal drove at the Hearts defence and drilled a low shot just wide from 20 yards out. The same player then volleyed over from just inside the box.

Hearts almost went ahead in the ninth minute when Esmael Goncalves slipped a pass into the path of the in-rushing Michael Smith, but the full-back’s low left-footed shot from 12 yards out was parried by Ryan Scully, with no-one on hand to knock the rebound over the line. Randall then thumped a low 25-yard half-volley just wide two minutes later.

The Jags went ahead in the 19th minute after Spittal cut through the Hearts defence far too easily before drilling in a low shot from the edge of the box which squirmed through the hands and legs of the errant McLaughlin.

The goalkeeper was almost made to pay for another mistake just before half-time when he was beaten to a Phil Storey cross by Adam Barton but John Souttar got back to nod the Thistle midfielder’s header off the line.

Hearts threatened an equaliser six minutes after the restart when Jamie Walker ran on to a throw-in from Rafal Grzelak and fired a ferocious 30-yard strike just wide of Scully’s left-hand post.

The Tynecastle side went close again in the 63rd minute when Goncalves rasped a half-volley narrowly wide from 15 yards out after being picked out from Cowie’s corner.

Hearts had been on top for most of the second half, and Randall saw a strike from distance tipped over by Scully in the 71st minute. The visitors deservedly equalised in the 80th minute when substitute David Milinkovic’s in-swinging cross from the left was deemed to have been glanced over the line by Callachan despite the frantic efforts of Thistle defender Danny Devine to head it out from under his crossbar.

At the other end, McLaughlin made amends for his earlier mistake with a fine save to deny Storey from close range as Partick tried in vain to reclaim the lead.

Partick Thistle (3-5-2): Scully; Keown, Turnbull, Devine; McGinn, Barton, Spittal, Edwards, Elliott (Nitiriansky 69) Doolan, Storey. Subs not used: Sneddon, Bannigan, Lawless, Nisbet, McCarthy.

Hearts (3-5-1-1): McLaughlin; Souttar, Hughes, Berra; Smith (Milinkovic 75), Callachan, Randall, Cowie (Currie 87), Grzelak (Smith-Brown 53); Walker; Goncalves. Subs not used: Hamilton, Buaben, Stockton, Henderson.#

Ref: Don Robertson

Att: 4671