Kevin Holt came up trumps again for a second successive match after his late penalty kept Partick Thistle on the path to promotion against relegation-threatened Queen of the South at rain-sodden Firhill
The defender struck the only goal of the contest against his former club and hometown team with eight minutes of regulation time remaining after Josh Debayo brought down Cammy Smith in the box.
It was the left-back’s second late winner in the space of just four days after his 85th minute strike downed Inverness last Friday to boost their hopes of a Championship play-off spot.
The victory moved the Jags within six points of Championships leaders Arbroath and five behind second-placed Kilmarnock, with a game in hand still to play later this month.
Thistle boss Ian McCall, whose side have now recorded SIX victories by a solitary one-nil score line at Firhill this season, felt his players merited maximum points after a dominant second half display.
He said: “The first half was difficult and the rain helped the pitch, but it was so hard for both teams.
“We should have scored three or four in the second half and I don’t think anyone would begrudge us the win. Our goalie didn’t have a save to make.
“Brian Graham was gutted he didn’t score with his header, as was Cammy Smith, but it is all about winning. It is another big three points, no doubt about that.
“You get to the point where you think (the goal) might not come but I had every trust in Kevin sticking the penalty away. He has been a great signing.
“We have come a long way in a short time - it is great to see and for our supporters. We can’t play the way we want to play but they were thrilled with the result.”
Torrential rain and a swirling wind made conditions extremely challenging for both teams in the opening 45 minutes, with chances at a premium in the early stages.
A steady stream of pressure from the visitors led to the first effort on target when Innes Cameron knocked down a cross for Josh Todd, but the midfielder’s strike from the edge of the box was comfortably dealt with by Jamie Sneddon.
Kevin Holt then cleared the ball of the line from Debayo’s header from a corner before striker Ruari Paton headed over from six-yards out from a free-kick after finding himself in acres of space.
Thistle had been pinned back inside their own half, with the home fans were growing frustrated at their side’s inability to get the ball up to strike pairing Juan Alegria and Alex Jakubiak.
However, the Jags came closest to breaking the deadlock on 37 minutes when Alegria connected with Richard Foster’s cross but his header was clawed away to safety by the outstretched Joshua Rae.
Holt then chested down Ross Docherty’s delivery but his half-volley flew over the crossbar just before the interval.
Partick boss McCall introduced Brian Graham and Cammy Smith at half-time and the hosts quickly took control of proceedings.
Thistle were almost handed a freak opener after 54 minutes when Foster’s deep cross somehow missed everyone but bounced awkwardly in front of the keeper, forcing Rae to take evasive action by pushing the ball over the bar.
Rae, who had kept four consecutive clean sheets prior to this match, was called into action once more to deny Graham before Jakubiak fizzed an effort wide and Ciaran McKenna headed a Stuart Bannigan delivery narrowly past the post.
Graham and Smith spurned further chances before referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot after Debayo tangled with Smith in the box and Holt stepped up to drill home the penalty low into the bottom right-hand corner for his sixth goal of the season.
Graham could have made the result more comfortable in the final minute but he was denied by a combination of a defender and another superb save from Rae.
The Jags now make the short trip to face Morton at Cappielow on Saturday, while second-bottom Queens fight for survival continues at home to Raith Rovers.
Interim Doonhamers player/boss Wullie Gibson could have no complaints about the penalty award after watching the incident back post-match.
He admitted: “It’s a sore one. We knew it would be a tough game as Partick are up at the top and challenging.
“We felt confident but I said to the boys at half-time there was going to be only one goal in it. It has come down to a penalty, and, having seen it back, the referee got it spot on.
“I was giving him a hard time but I said if I was wrong, I would apologise. From the angle I watched it back from, he’s got it right. There are two hands on the boy and while it might be soft, it is a penalty.”
Partick Thistle: Sneddon, Foster, Holt, Mayo, Bannigan, Jakubiak, McKenna, Murray (Smith; 45), Crawford (Turner; 60), Docherty, Alegria (Graham; 45)
Unused: Firth (GK), Bell, Akinola, Stanway, Hendrie, McAllister
Queen of the South: Rae, O’Connor, Cooper (Folarin; 90), Paton, Todd, Debayo, East, Cameron, Johnson, Gibson, Soares-Junior (Roy; 76)
Unused: Cowie (GK), Joseph, McKechnie, Nditi, Henderson
Referee: Nick Walsh
Attendance: 2,044 (234 away)
GlasgowWorld Man of the Match: Kevin Holt (Partick Thistle)