Tangerine title hopes suffered a blow as Patrick struck a stoppage time winner. After Scott McDonald got an early goal, United levelled 14 from time through Nicky Clark and looked like getting a winner only for Fitzpatrick to come up trumps for the home side in a frantic finale.
By Peter Rundo
Gaffer Robbie Neilson made three changes to the side that lost to Inverness Caledonian Thistle last Sunday. One – Peter Pawlett – was enforced due to suspension. Paul McMullan took his place with Calum Butcher, Osman Sow and Aidan Nesbitt all coming in with Fraser Fyvie, Cammy Smith and Pavol Šafranko dropping to the bench.
Meanwhile, the Jags showed three changes from the side that held Hearts in the Scottish Cup with former United striker Scott McDonald starting and joining former Tangerines Blair Spittal, Craig Slater and Steven Anderson in the Thistle line-up.
Osman sow starting for the first time was involved right at the start chesting the ball into the path of Nicky Clark who had a rather optimistic crack at goal which went well wide.
But Thistle were to enjoy much better fortune scoring with their first attack after four minutes and Scott McDonald, coming back to haunt his old club, heading home a Joe Cardle cross at the far post.
On five minutes Sow saw a shot deflected past for a corner as the Tangerines went in search of a leveller. At the other end, Blair Spittal went perilously close to doubling the home side’s lead, firing just over from a good position. In a busy opening period, chances weren’t in short supply at either end, Paul McMullan getting a second bite of the cherry then fired well over after his first effort was blocked.
There was a blow for United on 20 minutes when Sow’s first start ended prematurely as he limped off and with Pavol Šafranko, the natural replacement.
United were dominating play but were unable to fashion a clear-cut chance.
The first booking of the game came after 32 minutes when Joe Penrice was cautioned for a late challenge on Clark. From the resultant free-kick Charlie Seaman’s strike dipped inches over.
United went even closer after 37 minutes when McMullan met a Nisbett cross at the far post and the ball broke to Clark but he couldn’t keep his close-range shot on the turn down.
Just before the break, after the first concerted spell of Thistle pressure, Christie Elliot was yellow carded for taking McMullan out.
A delayed start to the second half saw Thistle on the attack and Siegrist collected a cushioned header from Mark Reynolds following a corner.
After a scrappy period of play, Thistle came so close to doubling their lead when McDonald was one on one with Siegrist but the keeper deflected his shot for a corner.
Mark Connolly became the first United player to be booked for clattering McDonald who shortly before had appeals for a penalty rejected.
If United had had the better of the first half, Thistle were making most of the running now with McDonald their main protagonist.
Gradually United got back into the game and substitute Sam Stanton had a decent effort from distance blocked for a corner.
Controversy raged with 19 minutes left. Jamie Robson ran on to McMullan’s inviting through ball and went down in the box. Despite vociferous protests which led to Stanton being booked, the referee rejected what appeared a penalty of the stone-wall variety.
Almost immediately Cammy Smith replaced Charlie Seaman and with quarter of an hour left Šafranko was brought down on the edge of the box and Clark slotted the ball round the wall and into the bottom right-hand corner.
That injected new life into the men in white as they put Partick under the cosh in search of the winner.
A brilliant bit of interplay between substitutes Smith and Šafranko opened up the Jags defence only for Smith to fire straight at the keeper from close range.
That signalled all-out attack by United, Stanton being denied by a great block by the keeper which was one of several near things whilst the Thistle goal continued under siege.
The hosts who throughout had looked dangerous on the break, did have a chance to win it when substitute Aiden Fitzpatrick was through on Siegrist but fortunately fired over.
More United pressure ensued but bang on the end of the regulation 90, the Jags stole away to snatch a winner manufactured and converted by two of their subs. Lewis Mansell made most of the space down the left to square for Fitzpatrick to steer allow shot past Siegrist.
Even then in this breath-taking finish there was more drama with Šafranko getting the ball on the net, only to be, correctly as it proved, ruled offside.
Summary: A hugely frustrating afternoon for Arabs as United lost an early goal. Another Nicky Clark goal from a set piece renewed hopes of pulling three points out of the bag were high as United battered the Thistle goal. Unfortunately, four good chances went begging only for Thistle to strike the winner on the counter. With leaders Ross County opening up an eight-point gap over United, winning both of the forthcoming double header with the Dingwall side is imperative. But more immediately and equally important, a trip to in-form Dunfermline awaits next Saturday.
15 Conor Hazard
31 Jack McMillan '
5 Steven Anderson
43 Steven Saunders
2 Christie Elliott
17 Craig Slater
32 Joe Cardle (Aidan Fitzpatrick 57)
7 Blair Spittal (c)
3 James Penrice
10 Scott McDonald (Gary Harkins 82)
19 Miles Storey (Lewis Mansell 73)
23 Jamie Sneddon
6 Sean McGinty
9 Kris Doolan
11 Gary Harkins
21 Aidan Fitzpatrick
30 Lewis Mansell
99 Ally Roy
1 Ben Siegrist
49 Charlie Seaman (Cammy Smith 73)
50 Mark Connolly
30 Mark Reynolds (c)
17 Jamie Robson
18 Calum Butcher
47 Ian Harkes
7 Paul McMullan
10 Nicky Clark
15 Aidan Nesbitt (Sam Stanton 59)
9 Osman Sow (Sarfranko 20)
34 Ross Laidlaw
3 Callum Booth
8 Fraser Fyvie
12 Sam Stanton
14 Pavol Šafranko
25 Cammy Smith
44 Paul Watson
Referee Alan Newlands
Attendance 3173 Arabs 905