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Late Collins Equaliser Gives Hibs A Share Of The Spoils

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A late James Collins goal gave Hibs a share of the points against Partick Thistle in Terry Butcher’s first home game in charge since taking over from Pat Fenlon three weeks ago.

Butcher was forced into making one change to the side that defeated Ross County in the Highlands last weekend with Owain Tudur Jones replacing the injured Scott Robertson.

Ahead of kick-off there was a minute’s applause as a mark of respect for and to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela who passed away on Thursday.

Hibs started brightly and Paul Cairney almost opened the scoring against his former team in the third minute but his powerful drive was well saved by Scott Fox in the Thistle goal.

Paul Hanlon then went close with a header from Liam Craig’s corner before Ben Williams was called into action beating away a powerful drive from the dangerous Kallum Higginbotham.

Steven Lawless then went down following an innocuous challenge and was replaced by Ross Forbes.

A last-gasp block from Jordan McMillan prevented Lewis Stevenson from marking his 200th appearance for the club with a goal following a dangerous low cross from Alan Maybury.

Just before the break, Ryan McGivern shot from 35 yards out which Fox did well to push around the post for a corner kick.

Fox then did well to save a long range effort from Tudur Jones as Hibs piled on the pressure, but it was the Glasgow side that took the lead against the run of play with a fantastic goal from Kris Doolan who collected the ball on the halfway line before bursting clear of the Hibs defenders and dinking the ball over Williams.

Fox then produced a world class save to deny Collins but with Hibs pressing for an equaliser, Thistle should have wrapped the game up with 15 minutes remaining when Forbes found himself clean through with only the keeper to beat, but his strike flew inches past the post.

The fourth official indicated that four minutes would be added on and in the final minute, a long free kick from Williams was flicked on by Hanlon to Collins who blasted the ball past Fox to the delight of the home support.

After the game, an upbeat Terry Butcher said: “The boys are disappointed in the dressing room not to have won the game, not that we probably deserved to win it, but we wanted to win the game today.

“We did OK first half, then they scored a goal out of nothing from our throw. Their keeper’s made a good save from Owain (Tudur Jones) then they score and you can see that all of a sudden it’s like someone has turned a tap and their confidence just floods out, but it took a while to get back and we changed it round. The subs did well when they came on, and I think there was a kitchen sink in the penalty box at one stage as we threw everything forward and in the end perseverance paid off. That’s the word of the day for me, perseverance.

“I said to the boys afterwards, ‘look, I’m delighted with a point at the end of the day because we could have lost the game and probably a couple of months ago we would have lost the game, probably 2-0’.It shows that the spirit is excellent and the belief is still there.

“We are a difficult team to beat as we just keep going and that’s a great plus point for me. There are things that we have to work on like style of play but it’s about confidence. The more games we are undefeated, the more resilient we are then the confidence will come back.

“James Collins has been brilliant and inspirational the last three games. He has led the line tremendously well and worked his socks off. He has good ability too and is prepared to miss chances but I was ecstatic when he scored because it was a great finish from a good Paul Hanlon header, and finally, a ball dropped to a Hibs’ player on the box, because the number of balls that went in there from crosses and corners it was amazing that it hadn’t happened before.

“It’s a three match unbeaten run and we know that we can do better and we will do better.

“The boys are down but I said, ‘come on lads for goodness sake, you’ve kept going and haven’t lost the game’.

“The ball into the box at the end was a great ball. We brought on Nelse (Michael Nelson) and pushing Jordon on because I wanted a big right winger to hit diagonals to because I couldn’t think of anything else to do tactically. I didn’t want to send Ben Williams up for corners and I think Maurice was going to send me on as well. We had enough height in the box but the ball just wouldn’t fall for us, but fair play to Partick Thistle. It was nice to get the point because it keeps the run going.”

Midfielder Owain Tudur Jones said: “You have to take the positives. It certainly wasn’t pretty, the second half especially and it was probably a nervy time going a goal down at home but we were delighted to get the goal at the end.

“When time is running out and you are looking at the clock and it’s ticking away faster than you would like you do start thinking that maybe it’s not going to be our day, but all you can do is keep going. I don’t think we had too many clear cut chances but we got the ball in the box plenty of times and hopefully in the weeks and months to come we can get some added quality in the last third.

Hibernian: Williams, McGivern, Hanlon, Craig, Cairney, Collins, Stevenson (Cummings 76′), Tudur Jones, Maybury (Nelson 85′), Handling (Zoubir 59′), Forster. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Taiwo, Caldwell, Thomson.

Partick Thistle: Fox, Sinclair, Muirhead, Craigen, Doolan (Lindsay 90′), Lawless (Forbes 31′), Piccolo, Elliott, McMillan, Osbourne, Higginbotham (Baird 70′).Substitutes not used: Gallacher, Kerr, Wilson, Meechan.

Referee: John Beaton.

Attendance: 10,431

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