Partick 1, Hearts 1: Jamie Walker rescues point

Jamie Walker celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
Jamie Walker celebrates his goal. Picture: SNS
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A TREMENDOUS last-gasp strike from Jamie Walker earned Hearts a vital share of the spoils at Firhill tonight.

The goal turned Walker from sinner to saint after he conceded the penalty which had handed Thistle a late, late lead.

It had looked like the Jags would bag a victory after Aaron Muirhead thundered home a penalty with just four minutes remaining.

But Walker hit home two minutes later after bursting into the box and letting fly to send the travelling Hearts support in the 6540 crowd home happy.

Hearts manager Gary Locke went with Walker in the gap left by the injured Ryan Stevenson, while Billy King, who was the other possible replacement, had to be content with a seat on the bench.

Callum Paterson, who scored the winner in last weekend’s Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, was again on from the start.

Thistle had the ball in the back of the net after just 8 minutes when Kris Doolan - who was impressive throughout - stabbed the ball beyond Jamie MacDonald after being played in by Conrad Balatoni, only for the chance to be ruled out for offside.

Thistle certainly looked the sharper in the opening stages and were getting plenty of change down both the right and left-hand sides of the Firhill pitch.

The home side broke forward with just under 15 minutes gone when former Jambo Balatoni’s long ball forward fell perfectly for Doolan again, who this time tried a dipping effort from distance but was again unlucky to see it drop just past Macdonald’s goal.

They came close again in 19 minutes when a beautiful cross from Stephen O’Donnell was met by the head of Balatoni but he couldn’t keep his effort under the bar.

A Danny Wilson foul on James Craigen handed Thistle another chance just minutes later. Gary Fraser this time swung the ball in from the right but Kevin McHattie was on hand at the near post to confidently head clear.

Thistle should have scored in the 25th minute when a cross from Craigen, tight to the goalline, was missed by the matter of just a couple of inches by Doolan with the goal gaping.

Hearts hadn’t had a single shot at goal up until this point but David Smith was unlucky not to find Paterson and a brilliant piece of footwork saw him step away from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair down the right.

Before the break, Sean Welsh sent Doolan free yet again but the Thistle man could only fire over the bar.

Within minutes of the restart, Thistle were at it again, this time Craigen drilling a low effort on an angle towards MacDonald’s goal but dragging it just wide.

Locke changed things around just before the hour when he brought Billy King off the bench to replace Smith.

Walker and Jason Holt combined down the left to create space for Hearts but when the ball was floated into the middle, Jamie Hamill could only fire into a sea of legs and the chance was lost

A few minutes later Danny Wilson got on the end of a Kevin McHattie corner but the Tynecastle skipper bulleted his header just over the bar.

Hearts were making a real impression on the game now but Walker’s shot from distance was right down the throat of Thistle keeper Scott Fox.

MacDonald pulled off a fingertip stop after Higginbotham and Taylor-Sinclair combined to tee up Steven Lawless.

But from the resultant corner, Thistle were awarded a spot-kick when Walker brought John Baird down in the box and Aaron Muirhead almost ripped a hole in the back of the net from 12 yards..

That goal looked like it would win the game for Thistle but with just two minutes of normal time remaining, Walker picked up, raced into the box and unleashed a powerful effort that left Fox helpless.

Partick Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Welsh, Muirhead, Balatoni, Fraser, Bannigan, Craigen, Lawless, Doolan. Subs: Gallacher, Baird, Kerr, Forbes, Osbourne, Elliott, Higginbotham.

Hearts: MacDonald, Hamill, McHattie, Wilson, McGowan, Robinson, Paterson, Walker, Holt, McKay, Smith. Subs: Ridgers, Carrick, B King, Tapping, Nicholson, Oliver, McGhee.

Referee: Bobby Madden

Attendance: 6540