Hibs 1 Partick 1: Stanton stings Jags

Kallum Higginbotham (left) closes down Hibs star Alex Harris. Pic: Alan Rennie
Kallum Higginbotham (left) closes down Hibs star Alex Harris. Pic: Alan Rennie
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TEN man Hibs ended a run of six consecutive defeats thanks to a last-gasp goal from Sam Stanton, his header earning the Easter Road outfit a precious point in their battle to avoid a relegation play-off.

Terry Butcher’s side looked to be heading to certain defeat, trailing to a seventh minute goal from Partick striker Kris Doolan and with Jags goalkeeper Paul Gallacher in seemingly unbeatable form having twice pulled off world class saves to prevent Michael Nelson from equalising.

And with Nelson sent off ten minutes from time their cause looked lost, the big defender picking up two yellow cards for fouls on Thistle’s substitute frontman Lyle Taylor. But 20-year-old Stanton was in the right place to nod the ball over Gallacher with only a minute of regulation time remaining.

Hibs boss Terry Butcher was forced into one change, Ryan McGivern joining Nelson in central defence with Jordon Forster suspended leaving Lewis Stevenson to fill the left back berth.

And that new defensive partnership was tested almost immediately, Kallum Higginbotham’s flick finding Doolan in the clear, the striker’s initial shot saved by goalkeeper Ben Williams only for the ball to break back off him before trundling into the empty net.

A great block by Stevenson prevented Stuart Bannigan from making it two for the Jags before Hibs twice came close to equalising, a Jason Cummings header flying just wide and then Liam Craig’s shot was well saved by Partick goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.

That save, however, was nothing to the two Gallacher produced in the space of as many minutes to twice deny Nelson, somehow pushing the defender’s powerful shot into the air only for Cummings to see his header hit the woodwork before the goalkeeper threw out a right hand to deflect the Hibs No 5’s shot onto the post.

Hibs had another opportunity to haul themselves level when Cummings broke with team-mates on either side of him but the 18-year-old’s inexperience showed as he elected to go alone only to see his shot blocked.

But Williams produced a superb save of his own to prevent Chris Erskine put the game beyond the Edinburgh club, the goalkeeper getting down to smother his effort after the Jags midfielder had been left one-on-one on him by substitute Lyle Taylor’s pass.

Hibs cause wasn’t helped two minutes into the second half when Kevin Thomson pulled up with a thigh injury. He was replaced by striker James Collins with Sam Stanton dropping back into a deeper role.

The first half had been played at a frantic pace and it dropped noticeably which suited Partick fine, able to get men behind the ball when necessary and patient enough to wait for their opportunity to attack, James Craigen attempting an audacious effort from 45 yards after Williams had come from his area to clear at the feet of Taylor - the ball flying high over the bar much to the stranded goalkeeper’s relief.

Having brought the best out of Gallacher before the interval Hibs were toiling to create any openings as the second period approached the halfway mark despite Collins having joined Cummings up front.

Good work between Scott Robertson and Craig did, however, allow Stevenson a sight of goal but his low shot zipped across the face of goal and wide as the home side became increasingly desperate.

Gallacher pulled off another good save from a Craig free-kick before Nelson was sent packing by referee Alan Muir, picking up two yellow cards for fouls on Lyle.

Hibs: Williams, Maybury, Nelson, McGivern, Stevenson, Harris (Watmore 61), Robertson, Thomson (Collins 47), Craig, Stanton, Cummings.

Substitutes not used: Murdoch, McPake, Cairney, Tudur Jones, Handling.

Partick Thistle: Gallacher, McMillan, Balatoni, Mair (Piccolo 45), Taylor-Sinclair, Erskine (Elliott 74), Fraser, Bannigan, Craigen, Higginbotham, Doolan (Taylor 19).

Substitutes not used: Fox, Lawless, Keenan, Moncur.

Referee: Alan Muir.