IT was the 35th minute. Airdrie had come roaring out of the traps at the Penny Cars Stadium, and had already taken the lead with just 70 seconds on the clock when Jack McKay steered in his brother Paul’s long throw to hand the Diamonds a precious lead.

It was all going so well and then in one 10-second period, the complexion of the entire game changed. A corner was swung in menacingly by Thomas Robert, and Thistle goalie Kieran Wright had to act quickly to keep an initial shot at bay. He then produced a stunning reaction save from Paul McKay’s close-range follow up to keep the Jags in the contest as the ball fell to the feet of Stuart Bannigan.

The midfielder nudged it on to Joe Cardle, who had a quick glance and floated a delightful ball forward to Scott Tiffoney. In one fluid movement, the Livi loanee brought the ball down terrifically and peeled away from his man, going on to poke the ball home and notch his first goal in red-and-yellow.

It was the game’s defining moment. A two-goal lead would have put Ian Murray’s men firmly in the driving seat and left Thistle with a mountain to climb but instead, they found themselves level going in at the break.

The momentum had irrevocably shifted. The visitors, buoyed by the equaliser, were knocking on Airdrie’s door from that moment onwards as chance after chance went begging at the end of a frenetic 45 minutes.

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The home side’s resistance would be broken shortly after the restart, though. Richard Foster barrelled down the left wing after winning the ball in midfield, finding Brian Graham in the middle with a looping delivery that the centre-forward steered home with aplomb. Two minutes later Connor Murray got in on the act, taking a touch inside and curling a lovely shot in at Max Currie’s near post.

Tiffoney grabbed his second of the afternoon and the Jags’ fourth when he powered in Ryan Williamson’s inch-perfect cross to cap off a free-flowing move from Ian McCall’s side and although substitute Ally Roy pulled one back with 20 minutes to go, the damage was already done. Sean Crichton’s second-half dismissal – the centre-back was shown a straight red for a dangerous lunge on Sena – didn’t exactly help matters either.

“We were in full command of the game at that point,” Murray said of Wright’s save. “We were looking very dominant.

“The game turned on that 10 seconds. It was an incredible save from the goalkeeper and then 10 seconds later it was 1-1.

“We were disappointed to be going in level at half-time as we felt we deserved more than that. Then a six-minute spell after half-time has cost us dearly.

“It was a huge moment. It could have been 2-0 and instead, it was 1-1. It’s bad enough missing that chance but to concede so soon after was disappointing.”

For Thistle, though, the game represented a significant step forward in their promotion bid. This wasn’t just the first time the Jags had scored four goals this season – it was the first time they had done so since they were a top-flight team.

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Naturally, McCall was pleased with the attacking verve displayed by his side. If anything, in fact, he was disappointed the scoreline wasn’t more commanding – particularly after Graham had a goal wrongly chopped off for offside towards the end.

“We didn’t start the game very well, did we? We were just awful for the first 20 minutes,” the Thistle boss said.

“We got a bit of a shock. But then Kieran makes a terrific save at 1-0 and after that – the last 15 minutes of the first half and the first 30 of the second, that’s the best we’ve played. We were excellent and we could have scored a lot more.

“Fair play to the referee – he apologised to me after the game. Brian’s gutted because the ref thought Zak Rudden had touched the ball and Brian was offside but he hadn’t touched it. We should have got more goals but we were pretty dominant.”