STUART BANNIGAN was left frustrated by Nick Walsh’s decision to award a penalty to Kilmarnock during Friday night’s 1-1 draw at Firhill but the midfielder believes Ross Docherty’s late equaliser proved his side are a match for anyone in the Championship.

After missing the previous game against Hamilton, Bannigan was restored to Ian McCall’s starting XI as the Jags dominated possession against their promotion rivals.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between, though, and when Walsh adjudged Oli Shaw’s cross to have struck the arm of Richard Foster, the Killie striker slotted the ball home from 12 yards to give the visitors the lead approaching the hour mark. Speaking after the full-time whistle, McCall said the official had ‘had a shocker’.

Docherty’s excellent strike five minutes from time – the midfielder collected Lewis Mayo’s pass to the right of the box before rifling it into the far corner for his fourth of the season – ensured neither side would leave empty-handed, and Bannigan insists that’s the least his side deserved.

“I think we were the better team,” the long-serving midfielder said. “We played really well in the first half.

“We had a few chances around the edge of the box and if there was on team playing it was probably us.

“We’re disappointed with the decision. The ball has hit Richard’s hand but what is he supposed to do? It was a really tough one that went against us.

“We’ve seen it back and I think everyone would be in agreement that it wasn’t a penalty.

“We felt maybe one goal would win it so to lose a goal like that was so disappointing,

“But we kept going and we got the equaliser at the end and if there had been another five minutes added on then there was only team that was going to win it and that was us.

“We’ve shown we are a match for anybody. We certainly showed we’re a match for Kilmarnock.

“We’re a good side. We had to come up this year and show first and foremost we deserve to be in this league.

“We’ve played all the teams a couple of times at least now and we are there or thereabouts.

“We’ll wait and see in the next month or so if we’re still up there.”

“It was a great strike from Doc – I don’t know where these goals are coming from but he seems to have them in his locker this season,” the 29-year-old continued. “It’s probably the most he’s scored in a year. I’m buzzing for him.”

Thistle will have a full week to prepare for their next fixture, when they welcome League One title hopefuls Airdrieonians to Firhill on Scottish Cup duty.

The two sides met three times last season in Scotland’s third tier – the Jags won all three but all were cagey, tight affairs – and Bannigan is taking nothing for granted ahead of the cup tie.

“Airdrie are going really well,” he said. “They’re a tough side – we played them last season – so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we can go on a wee run.”