Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall branded referee Nick Walsh’s decision to award Kilmarnock a penalty as a “shocker” after watching his side fight back to secure a share of the spoils in a 1-1 draw at Firhill.
Oli Shaw rifled the visitors ahead on 58 minutes from a hotly disputed spot-kick after Walsh penalised full-back Richard Foster for handball but a driven 20-yard strike from captain Ross Docherty salvaged a share of the spoils for the Jags with four minutes remaining.
The result ensured Killie missed out on the chance to move top of the Scottish Championship, while Thistle remain in fifth spot but still firmly in the hunt for promotion.
Reflecting on the penalty award, McCall said: “I’ve seen it back and it’s a shocker. I’d say our claim (when Brian Graham went down) was more of a penalty than that one, so it’s a poor decision.
“I don’t know what Richard is meant to do. His hand is not in an unnatural position, it’s at the side of his body.
McCall continued: “We did well to come back and get the equaliser but it’s a game we should’ve won because we were clearly the better team for most of the game.
“We tried to move the ball around as best we could, it’s not easy on that surface, but when you score late on you want to press forward and try to nick a winner.
“You do feel a sense of relief that, even though it wasn’t a penalty, we never got beat.
“I thought (Ross) Docherty and (Stuart) Bannigan were head and shoulders above anyone on the pitch, they were absolutely outstanding.
“Kilmarnock are favourites (to win the league) but if you watched the game tonight... I’m sure Del will probably do some work in the window, they’ll get two or three more players in.
“I can only concentrate on us and I thought we were terrific. I’m very proud of my players and a point is the very least we deserved.”
Just 500 spectators watched on from the Jackie Husband stand at a quieter than usual Firhill but Thistle began brightly with winger Scott Tiffoney proving a constant threat down the left-hand side.
However, the first clear-cut chance of the match fell to the visitors in the 19th minutes when Callum Hendry’s clever knockdown found Blair Alston whose curling shot was palmed away to safety by Jamie Sneddon.
The home side carved out their first opportunity after 33 minutes when Richard Foster’s first-time cross found Zak Rudden, but the striker’s effort lacked the necessary power to trouble Zack Hemming in the visitors goal.
Thistle should have opened the scoring in the 42nd minute when Kevin Holt’s delivery made its way out to the unmarked Cammy Smith inside the box and the former Aberdeen midfielder fizzed an effort goal wards but Brandon Haunstrup was on hand to deflect the ball behind for a corner.
Jags No.1 Sneddon was called into action early in the second half as he got down well to block Shaw’s close range attempt but Kilmarnock’s pressure paid off in the 58 minute.
Foster was accused of handling a cross by Nick Walsh, who immediately pointed to the spot and former Hibs and Ross County frontman Shaw dispatched the spot-kick powerfully down the middle.
The decision incensed the home support but they were handed a deserved equaliser with just four minutes left on the clock.
Skipper Ross Docherty latched on to the ball before drilling home a sensational effort from the right-hand side beyond the outstretched Hemming into the corner of the net.
It was a strike worthy of the entrance fee alone as Thistle rallied to deny new Killie boss Derek McInnes two from his first two games since taking charge of the Ayrshire club.
McInnes was satisfied with a point but felt his side should have seen out the game from a winning position in the closing stages.
He admitted: “I thought Thistle were better than us, particularly in the first-half. We had a couple of decent moments but half-time probably came at a good time for us because they had control of the game.
“They dominated the midfield area but once we got in front I didn’t think we looked like losing a goal, so to come away with a point is slightly disappointing given we had so little time left.
“You’d have to say, though, over the course of the 90 minutes, if Thistle hadn’t taken something from the game they would’ve felt mugged.”
Partick Thistle: Sneddon, Foster, Holt, Mayo, Tiffoney, Bannigan, Rudden (MacIver; 78), Smith (Turner; 63), Akinola, Crawford (Graham; 63), Docherty
Unused: McCready (GK), McKenna, C. Murray, Hendrie
Kilmarnock: Hemming, Hodson, Haunstrup, McGinn (F. Murray; 89), Stokes, McKenzie, Alston, Shaw, Hendry (E. Murray; 75), Burke (Mackay; 61), Taylor
Unused: Walker (GK), Waters, Polworth, Cameron
Referee: Nick Walsh