Dundee United squandered a golden chance to pile the pressure on at the top of the Championship by only drawing at home to Partick Thistle.
With Championship leaders Ross County losing to Morton last night and second-placed Ayr United going down at home to Falkirk, this was a wonderful opportunity to start the new year by climbing considerably closer to those two.
However, they blew it.
This 1-1 draw means they have taken just one point from back-to-back fixtures against teams from the division’s relegation zone.
A header from Kris Doolan after just nine minutes gave Thistle a deserved lead but the hosts levelled through captain Fraser Fyvie’s penalty on 61 minutes.
The Jags had won only one of their last 13 fixtures but they didn’t appear to be second-best here, well for an hour at least.
Watched by a crowd of 5,282, United made three changes to the side that lost at Alloa last weekend.
There was no place in the starting line-up for new signing Aidan Nesbitt but he was sitting on the bench.
Craig Curran, Billy King and Paul Watson all dropped down to the bench, with Fyvie, Matty Smith and Fraser Aird returning.
The first chance fell to Thistle after just three minutes, with Miles Storey sent clear and goalie Benjamin Siegrist having to make the save.
The visitors had made the better start it was no shock when they took the lead on nine minutes.
Craig Slater took the corner from the left after Blair Spittal’s freekick had been deflected. The marking from the home team was non-existent and Doolan had a free header that he sent into the net.
It was all Partick and it wasn’t until the 24th minute that United had a decent shot on goal after Paul McMullan charged the ball down then fired in an angled drive that was saved.
It was feeble stuff from the Tangerines and a relief when the half-time whistle gave manager Robbie Neilson the chance to shake things up.
That came in the shape of sub Nesbitt, who took the place of Aird. It was asking a lot of one player to turn such a poor performance around but Nielson had to try something.
McMullan tried another shot from 25 yards on 55 minutes but it was an east take for Partick goalie Conor Hazard.
The Tangerines got a lifeline just after the hour when they were awarded a penalty.
The foul was by defender Sean McGinty on new boy Nesbitt and it fell to captain Fyvie to send the spotkick to Hazard’s left to make it 1-1 on 61 minutes.
Pavol Safranko had a good chance to give the Tangerines the lead when he had space and time to shoot but his strike was charged down by Hazard.
United had the ball int eh net on 74 minutes when Safranko and Fyvie combined to head the ball into the net but referee Bobby Madden awarded a foul to Thistle for a foul on keeper Hazard.
With 81 minutes on the clock a nice move by the home side was almost rewarded with a winner but McMullan’s low strike was saved again by Hazard.
Great hold-up play and pass by Safranko then set up Nesbitt for a strike at goal but he pulled his shot and it didn’t trouble the Partick goal. The new arrival had another opportunity as the clock ticked down but he didn’t get enough on that shot either.
United huffed and puffed thereafter – Safranko came close in the dying seconds – but the Jags held on for a point they will feel they richly deserved.