In what was billed as a 6-pointer, Thistle crashed to a heavy defeat to rivals Cumbernauld.Both teams were desperate for the points priot to kick off to ensure their Super League status for another season, and although the home side had the chances to put the result beyond doubt in the first half, a second half collapse left them empty handed.
Thistle took an early lead on only 8 minutes in bizarre circumstances when Billy Young picked up the ball on the left wing inside his own half. He launched a long ball forward, bouncing in front of United keeper Davd Buchanan, but Buchanan stumbled as he went to block the ball, allowing it to pass him by into the empty net.
Young was involved again when he played a long clearance from defence, which was flicked on by Ricky Orr into the path of Chris Dallas. Dallas easily outpaced the defence. His chip over the onrushing Buchanan from 20 yards out was just wide off goal. Moments later, a miskick from Buchanan fell to Dallas, but the striker's show was screwed wide. At the other end, a Paul Bain clearance was blocked, with the loose ball falling to Gary Gibson who headed the ball over Graeme Lynn in the EK goal, but the ball bounced off the post and Lynn was able to scramble and collect.
On 31 minutes, Thistle played the ball about well around the Cumbernauld penalty area, before releasing the ball to Steven Chaplain, whose well hit shot curled towards the top corner, but Buchanan was able to collect high to his left.
On 38 minutes, controversy reigned as a free kick from just outside the area hit Peter Innes' hand on the way into the goal. The referee decided to award a penalty instead of the goal, despite the United protests. James Steele stepped up to take the spot kick, which was well saved by Lynn, and although Steele was quickest to the rebound, Lynn again stopped the show, this time from point blank range.
Just before half-time Orr flicked the ball up for Chaplain on the edge of the area, whose chip bounced off the face of the post and away to safety with Buchanan beaten.
The Cumernauld half-time team talk certainly seemed to make the difference, as the visitors came out of the dressing room as a different team. Within the first 3 minutes of the half, they had missed two sitters in front of goal before Kenny Jarvis cracked a left-footed shot from the edge of the area to pull his side even. Only minutes later Steele crossed into the box, only for the ball to bounce of Bain and in for an own goal.
Thistle tried to get even on 55 minutes when Innes played a great pass over the defence, finding Dallas who beat the offside trap before turning inside and chipped over the keeper, but a defender covered to head off the line. Moments later, the referee was left with no choice but to show EK midfielder a 2nd yellow card for a reckless tackle, leaving Thistle a man down. This was the turning point in the match, as Thistle struggled to cope with the attacks of United.
On 69 minutes Steele skipped past a number of challenges before squaring the ball to the unmarked Dominic O'Halleron who was left with a simple tap-in. On 75 minutes, O'Halleron shot from the edge of the area, which Lynn managed to block, but the ball spun up and over the keeper into the Thistle net.
It took until the final 5 minutes for United to add to their lead, but it came from a Gibson shot from the edge of the area which was deflected past Lynn as it went through a ruck of players. Two minutes later, Gibson waltzed through the home defence before slotting past Lynn to make it 6-1. The icing on the cake came in the final minute, as substitute Paul Hanlon was unmarked for a tap-in.
Team - Lynn, Sloan, Conway, Smith, Daly, Bain (Morgan 64), Innes, Young, Dallas (Harkin 75), Orr, Chaplain
Unused subs - McMillan, Dempsey, Gorman, Bonnar, Mailey
Yellow card - Innes, Conway
Red card - Innes