Partick Thistle 1 Falkirk 1: Relegation dogfight ends in stalemate

Zak Rudden. Picture Michael Gillen.
Zak Rudden. Picture Michael Gillen.

Falkirk and Partick Thistle drew but both were losers on Saturday with results elsewhere conspiring against them.

The bottom two sides remain so, and have now lost ground on Alloa who defeated Morton 2-1 ton extend their lead over ninth placed Falkirk to six points.

Rudden celebrates. Picture Michael Gillen.

Rudden celebrates. Picture Michael Gillen.

But nevertheless Ray McKinnon was still pleased to see his side take a point from a losing position.

Partick shaded the first hour and had the lead through Blair Spittal but the game swung back for Falkirk after Gary Harkins' red card and the Bairns had pressure to win all three points after Zak Rudden's equaliser.

LEAGUE TABLE: SPFL Championship

The striker made his return to Falkirk in a lunchtime loan switch and it proved a vital piece of business by McKinnon and salvaged a point and kept the Bairns above Gary Caldwell's side.

Ross MacLean is fouled. Picture: Michael Gillen

Ross MacLean is fouled. Picture: Michael Gillen

Both sides were fighting for their lives in the SPFL Championship and took it literally in the first half, squaring up as tempers frayed just before half-time.

The flashpoints were the most memorable moments form a low-quality first half where the league placings - as 10th hosted ninth - were very evident.

Falkirk's only opportunity of note was when Zak Rudden raced onto a Tommy Robson through-ball and cut inside. His shot on the angle was beaten out by Conor Hazard.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Partick 1 Falkirk 1 matchday blog

Ian McShane slides in on James Penrice. Picture: Michael Gillen

Ian McShane slides in on James Penrice. Picture: Michael Gillen

Lewis Kidd mis-hit a cross that almost sneaked in but ex-Bairn Conor Hazard was on his toes to keep it out.

It was not a game for the purists and Abdul Osman was heavily involved in the midfield, though roundly jeered by the Firhill crowd he once called his own.

The Ghanaian was coming in for some rough treatment from his former club and was clattered in a 50-50 by Stuart Bannigan who was lucky not to be red-carded for the slide.

Lewis Kidd and Blair Spittal were booked, squaring up as the match heated up in the run-up to half-time and Ian McShane shoved Steven Saunders right in front of Andrew Dallas with no punishment.

Zak Rudden made a lunchtime return to Falkirk. Picture: Michael Gillen

Zak Rudden made a lunchtime return to Falkirk. Picture: Michael Gillen

PLAYER PROFILE: Ian McShane

However after the break things improved, and mostly for Thistle.

They camped the Bairns inside their own defensive zone of around 20 yards and only Zak Rudden acted as an outlet for Falkirk.

The lone frontman was growing ever more frustrated and foresaw Thistle's opener seconds before Blair Spittal struck on the hour.

After chasing another lost cause without support Rudden motioned to the bench for assistance, but immediately the ball was knocked into the danger area by Harkins and fired home by Spittal.

On balance it was deserved but Ray McKinnon made a double substitution removing the already cautioned duo of Osman and Kidd from the powderkeg midfield, and it proved a vital change.

Abdul Osman was heavily jeered by his former support. Picture: Michael Gillen

Abdul Osman was heavily jeered by his former support. Picture: Michael Gillen

Gary Harkins, who also had been booked by ref Andrew Dallas for a charge on Osman early in the second period, ended up walking for a second foul on Ross MacLean.

That swung the balance in Falkirk's favour and they took quick advantage, through Rudden of course.

READ MORE: Zak Rudden signs a lunchtime loan deal

MacLean hit the by-line and crossed to the backpost where Ciaran McKenna headed at goal, only for Conor Hazard to beat the effort off the lione. The bouncing ball was nodded in by Rudden at close range and Falkirk were level, with momentum and a man advantage.

Paul Paton and new signing David Keillor-Dunn came on to add fresh legs in Falkirk's cause, but they couldn't take advantage, try as they did.

There were smiles for the Bairns after coming back to draw. Picture Michael Gillen.

There were smiles for the Bairns after coming back to draw. Picture Michael Gillen.