Hearts 1, Partick 1: Jags strike late in front of Jambos’ new stand

Esmael Goncalves wheels away to celebrate his goal. Pic: SNS
Esmael Goncalves wheels away to celebrate his goal. Pic: SNS
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Hearts reopened Tynecastle Park with a draw against Partick Thistle thanks to substitute Kris Doolan’s late equaliser for the visitors. Esmael Goncalves opened the scoring early in the second half, but Doolan prised an equaliser shortly after climbing off the bench.

Having only received a safety certificate for their new main stand from City of Edinburgh Council late on Saturday night, Hearts were simply relieved that the game went ahead as planned.

Fireworks mark the opening of the new main stand. Pic: SNS

Fireworks mark the opening of the new main stand. Pic: SNS

Kick-off was delayed 15 minutes due to lengthy queues outside the Wheatfield Stand, but the new main stand filled up nicely to herald Tynecastle’s new era. This was the first league game in Gorgie since May after Hearts switched matches to BT Murrayfield during the initial building phase.

Partick Thistle released a pre-match statement criticising Hearts over the late decision on staging this game and called for a review from the Scottish Professional Football League.

When the action finally started, both teams set out to attack and Hearts had attempts at goal through Goncalves and Kyle Lafferty. Thistle sought to utilise the pace of striker Miles Storey with quick balls in behind the home defence, which included the fit-again Aaron Hughes. Arnaud Djoum was also back from injury in midfield.

French winger David Milinkovic looked dangerous wide on the Hearts left and managed to cut inside for a couple of shots at the visitors’ goal. Thistle, though, should have moved ahead in the final minute of the first half. Hughes miscontrolled a through ball, allowing Storey to set off for goal. The striker’s left-footed strike rolled wide of target from 18 yards, much to Hughes’ relief.

Hearts owner Ann Budge is all smiles in front of the new stand. Pic: SNS

Hearts owner Ann Budge is all smiles in front of the new stand. Pic: SNS

It was always likely to take a touch of individual brilliance to break the deadlock, and it arrived from Goncalves on 53 minutes. He jinked his way in from the left near the edge of the penalty area using a variety of drags and stepovers to confuse opponents. With space created, he angled a perfect finish across Cerny into the far corner of the net.

The new stand let out its first roar to acclaim a goal which will go down in history. Hearts wanted a second to kill the game and were under orders from the technical area not to sit back. They didn’t, but Thistle nonetheless forced an equaliser with five minutes remaining.

Blair Spittal clipped a free-kick into a crowded penalty area and several bodies attacked it. No-one made clean contact and the ball dropped at the feet of Doolan, who promptly dispatched it into the net to earn his team a point.

Kris Doolan celebrates his late equaliser for Partick Thistle. Picture: SNS

Kris Doolan celebrates his late equaliser for Partick Thistle. Picture: SNS