IAN McCALL was left frustrated after his Partick Thistle side spurred an early lead in a 1-1 draw with Ayr United at Firhill.

Brian Graham got his second goal in as many games for his new club to give the Jags the lead but Alan Forrest’s second-half penalty ensured a share of the spoils in Glasgow’s west end.

"It does feel like two points dropped,” McCall said. “Ayr are up there for a reason and they have two or three special players who can turn a game. We are gutted but it is a point.”

Thistle had four players making their home league debuts for at Firhill after a busy January transfer window where eight new signings joined the Maryhill club. Darren Brownlie, Lee O’Connor, Darian MacKinnon and Graham took to the pitch for their first home league fixture for their new club, while Lewis Mayo – who sealed a loan switch from Rangers for the remainder of the campaign on deadline day – missed out on the matchday squad.

The visitors were the better side during the game’s opening exchanges and while it was well-contested, both teams struggled to fashion clear-cut chances.

Reece Cole went close for Thistle following a sharp counter from an Ayr corner 17 minutes in, but his first-time effort from the edge of the box was just wide of the far post.

The home side started to grow into the game and Joe Cardle should have opened the scoring midway through the first half, but the winger failed to connect properly with his half-volley from inside the box and only succeeded in scudding his effort from 12 yards out over the bar.

Ayr then went close following Stephen Kelly’s corner; former Jags defender Aaron Muirhead connected well with the midfielder’s delivery but his powerful effort was narrowly over.

Graham then marked his home debut with the simplest of finishes just after the half-hour mark. Cole’s free-kick eventually fell to the feet of Cardle, whose delicately chipped ball towards the back post left Graham to poke the ball home from a couple of yards out.

The home crowd were howling for a penalty in the last knockings of the opening period after Graham tumbled in the box after chasing a loose ball but referee Euan Anderson was having none of it.

Early in the second half, a mix-up between Brownlie and Bannigan proved calamitous. The two players challenged for the same ball with neither winning it, sending Forrest scarpering through on goal. O’Connor sped after him and was adjudged to have felled him in the box, and the Ayr winger made no mistake from the spot to bring the scores level.

That equaliser reinvigorated Mark Kerr’s side and in the aftermath, the momentum was with the visitors as they assaulted the Thistle goal to no avail.

The game became increasingly ill-tempered as it progressed as the tackles arrived harder, later and with no quarter given, with Cardle and Muirhead both ending up in the book after a coming-together on the right flank.

Dario Zanatta almost put Thistle back in front but struggled to get his shot away. With the ball trapped under his feet, the winger contrived to hit the ball over the bar with what proved to be his last action of the match as he was then replaced by Zak Rudden.

The two sides pushed admirably for a winning goal; Forrest tested Scott Fox with a decent effort from the right and Cole skewed a long-range effort far and wide late on but in the end both clubs had to settle for a point each.

Ayr manager Mark Kerr conceded that a draw was a fair result in a well-contested match.

“In the end it was a scrappy game,” he said. “We never really got going today but that’s credit to [Thistle].”