Partick Thistle revel in adversity. The Glasgow side which annually defies the laws of gravity to keep themselves upsides of the relegation chasm live to fight another day after an afternoon in which United discovered how narrow the margin can be between success and failure.
Three times in the second half Craig Brewster, the United centre-half, was denied the goal his performance deserved. Twice he was thwarted by the reactions of Nicky Walker, the Partick Thistle goalkeeper; on the third, his shot from 20 yards cannoned off the crossbar into the goalkeeper's arms.
Thistle survived, as is their habit, and with a crowd of 10,500, the directors must wonder where those supporters go on a Saturday afternoon.
The football was never going to be pretty with a place at stake in the Premier Division and given the sandy surface of the Firhill pitch, but this was an enthralling, hugely-entertaining 90 minutes of end-to-end, up-and-at-them action which was lapped up by the large crowd.
Thistle delighted their supporters by taking the lead after 20 minutes. Andy Lyons, who was bought from Wigan to provide a goal threat from the midfield, thundered a 30-yard free-kick round the defensive wall and past Ally Maxwell. In that first half, gritty Thistle were first to every tackle, playing for their lives. Maxwell reacted quickly in the 14th minute to direct a shot from Ian Cameron into the air and over the bar. Yet United might have snatched a goal when a Dave Bowman shot was deflected wide.
United equalised with four minutes remaining, a header from Christian Dailly beating Walker to his near post. And so to Thursday night for a dramatic climax to the season which will see one of these teams in the Premier Division, the other facing a First Division campaign.
While the prospect of a trip to Tannadice might be viewed with trepidation by others, Thistle will go there in the knowledge that their away form this season has outstripped their performances at home.
Goals: Lyons (20) 1-0; Dailly (86) 1-1.
Partick Thistle (4-4-2): Walker; Milne, Slavin, Welsh, Watson; McWilliams (Smith, 66), B McDonald (Turner, 83), Cameron, Lyons; R McDonald, McCue. Substitute not used: Henderson.
Dundee United (4-4-2): Maxwell; Shannon, Pressley, Welsh, McQuilken; McKinnon (McSwegan, 48), Bowman, Dailly, McLaren (Coyle 80); Brewster, Winters. Substitute not used: O'Hanlon.
Bookings: Partick Thistle: McCue.
Referee: J McCluskey (Stewarton).
Man of the match: Walker (Partick).
Attendance: 10,500.Reuse content