Partick Thistle 3, Hibs 1: Jags sting Hibs

Hibs' Duncan Watmore (right) sees his shot closed down by Partick Thistle pair Prince Buaben (left) and Conrad Balatoni. Pic: SNS
Hibs' Duncan Watmore (right) sees his shot closed down by Partick Thistle pair Prince Buaben (left) and Conrad Balatoni. Pic: SNS
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Duncan Watmore’s first goal for Hibs wasn’t enough to prevent the Easter Road outfit’s already fast fading top six hopes being dimmed even further as Partick Thistle claimed only their second home win of the season.

Chris Erskine and Lee Mair struck either side of half-time to fire the Jags into a two-goal lead only for Watmore to throw Terry Butcher’s side a lifeline. But deep into added on time Kallum Higginbotham broke clear, kept his composure to complete a well-deserved win for the Glasgow team.

Butcher made just one change to the side which endured that goal-less draw at Inverness in midweek, teenage striker Jason Cummings replacing Danny Haynes in a bid to give Hibs some added firepower.

A break by Cummings posed the first threat to the Thistle defence but the youngster, with James Collins in plenty of space to his right, delayed his pass, allowing Stephen O’Donnell to nullify the danger.

Partick were both slack in their marking and in possession which resulted in Hibs seeing plenty of the ball although they were unable to work goalkeeper Paul Gallacher to any great extent while the visiting defence were hardly troubled.

But a positive run from Kallum Higginbotham almost brought the opening goal totally against the run of play, the wide man cutting in from the right to fire in a rising shot which Ben Williams pushed over.

It did, however, galvanise Thistle and Erskine should have done better when presented with a clear sight of goal than fire a low shot straight at Williams.

And the Hibs goalkeeper had to be fast off his line to dive at the feet of Kris Doolan after Lyle Taylor’s flick over the top presented him with a run into the penalty area.

After that bright opening the warning signs were there for Hibs and they fell behind two minutes form the interval. Taylor did the spade work on the right before delivering a low cross which was dummied by Doolan leaving Erskine with the time and space to hammer the ball into the roof of the net from 16 yards.

Erskine’s strike was a definite setback for Hibs but they almost hauled themselves level within a minute of the restart, Cummings firing in a low shot which Gallacher managed to push round the post.

But Thistle went close to claiming a second in the 55th minute, Prince Buaben’s crossfield pass releasing Higginbotham who danced past a couple of challenges before hammering in a shot which Williams did well to beat away.

That second goal, though, was only delayed by four minutes, Higginbotham hanging a free-kick from the left touchline to the far post where Lee Mair rose unchallenged to head the ball down and in.

Hibs hit back almost immediately, Sam Stanton feeding the ball in for Watmore who seemed to have lost the chance as the ball got caught between his feet but he dug it out and tucked it away in the bottom left hand corner of Gallacher’s net.

It was a lifeline which almost didn’t last, Williams clutching a Taylor effort from a tight angle before Higginbotham drilled a low ball across the face of the Hibs goal which was only inches out of Taylor’s reach.

But Thistle had the reflexes of Gallacher to thank for keeping them ahead as substitute Paul Heffernan’s drilled cross broke off O’Donnell and seemed certain to end up in his own net until his goalkeeper threw out a boot to block.

Partick Thistle: Gallacher, O’Donnell, Balatoni, Mair, Taylor-Sinclair, Erskine (Lawless 85), Buaben, Fraser, Higginbotham, Taylor (Elliott 79), Doolan.

Substitutes not used: Fox, Craigen, Piccolo, McMillan, Moncur.

Hibs: Williams, Forster, Nelson, Hanlon, McGivern, Watmore, Taiwo, Stanton, Cairney (Craig 65), Cummings (Heffernan 61), Collins (Haynes 77).

Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Stevenson, Maybury, Handling.

Referee: Brian Colvin.

Attendance: 4448