Partick 1-1 Hearts: Match Report
Partick 1-1 Hearts: Match Report - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game as it happened.
Bittersweet night for Walker
Hearts midfielder Jamie Walker went from villain to hero in the space of three minutes as he hit a stunning late equaliser to deny Partick Thistle top spot in the Scottish Premiership in a 1-1 draw.
Walker appeared to have handed Thistle a thoroughtly-deserved late win when he conceded an 85th-minute penalty that Aaron Muirhead lashed down the middle of the net.
But he soon fired high into the corner of the goal after bursting to the edge of the Thistle box as Hearts further cut their 15-point deduction for going into administration to an 11-point deficit.
The point rounded off a memorable six days for Hearts fans which started with a derby win over Hibernian and continued with news that they, in the form of the Foundation of Hearts, had been named preferred bidders for the club.
But it was cruel on the home side who were highly impressive in front of a vibrant 6,540 crowd at Firhill.
For the third game running Alan Archibald started with 10 players who won First Division winners' medals last season and they again showed they had fully merited their top-flight chance as they maintained their unbeaten record.
Hearts could not cope with Thistle's first-half movement, energy and passing as the home side pinned their opponents back and created a steady stream of chances.
The visitors pushed men on to the home side's marauding full-backs and had a decent spell after the hour mark but the Jags regained control and Jamie MacDonald saved well from James Craigen, John Baird and Steven Lawless.
Walker bundled Baird over in the box following a short corner to allow Muirhead to net but he sent the visitng fans into wild celebrations moments later.
Thistle's first-half dominance was immediate and they had the ball in the net in the ninth minute when Kris Doolan poked home from four yards after several of his team-mates had helped it towards goal following Aaron Taylor-Sinclair's free-kick, however the striker was well offside.
Hearts had barely got out of their half and Thistle kept on the pressure. Lawless got a shot on target following some crisp passing and Doolan shot over on the run after a ball over the top.
Conrad Balatoni missed a great chance in the 19th minute when he sent a free header over from six yards following Stephen O'Donnell's cross and six minutes later Hearts were cut open again by Sean Welsh's lofted ball to the far post. Craigen chested it down and flicked the ball across the face of goalbut Doolan was inches away from connecting.
Thistle had a penalty claim rejected when O'Donnell's cross appeared to hit the hand of Danny Wilson, but the Hearts captain had his hands down by his side and the assistant referee was well placed.
Hearts belatedly began to enjoy some more possession but Thistle soon hit them on break and Stuart Bannigan's cross fell for Sean Welsh on the right side of the area. The former Hibernian player had time to set himself up and he arrowed a shot that rose just over the far corner.
Welsh then lofted the ball in behind the Hearts defence for Doolan on the left channel but the striker's swiftly-taken effort flew just over.
It took two minutes for Thistle to create their first second-half chance when Craigen's run was found by a first-time pass by Lawless, but the midfielder shot just wide from 20 yards.
Kallum Higginbotham, who replaced the injured Welsh at half-time, created a chance to score on his home debut when he turned Dylan McGowan in the box but he blazed high and wide, and MacDonald then saved from Doolan after Craigen's cross.
The Hearts fans raised their volume in recognition of their team's need for support and their players responded by creating some chances of their own.
Both Jamie Hamill and Brad McKay had penalty-box shots blocked and Wilson twice came close with headers following set-pieces while substitute Billy King had a long-range effort deflected wide.
Thistle hit back and MacDonald pushed away Craigen's header after substitute Baird had held the ball up and crossed to the back post. Baird went for goal himself after O'Donnell's diagonal ball and MacDonald was almost fooled by the swerve before scrambling the ball clear.
MacDonald then pushed wide a long-range strike from Lawless that looked destined for the bottom corner but he was beaten moments later from the spot before Walker redeemed himself in style.
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