Walker fails to save Thistle as Milne is sent off Ritchie proves to be ace of Hearts
1 Feb 1996
Hearts 1 Partick Thistle 0 HEARTS youngster Paul Ritchie, who signed a new contract just last week, repaid the Tynecastle club with the goal which defeated Partick Thistle and carried them into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.
Ritchie's header in the sixty-third minute last night was enough to earn Hearts their passport to a clash with Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.
It was also enough to continue the Firhill side's dismal cup record.
Thistle have now gone seven years without a victory in the cup.
Their last win was back in February, 1989, when they defeated St Mirren 3-1 in a replay at Love Street.
At Tynecastle last night, with 13,770 fans watching, there was never a sign that they would be able to end that record.
Indeed, their night ended in further disgrace when Calum Milne was ordered off four minutes from the end after a clash with Hearts veteran Gary Mackay close to the touchline.
Referee Hugh Dallas immediately indicated that Milne had elbowed Mackay and the red card was produced, the Thistle man sent off, and with him went any faint hopes of a possible revival.
Afterwards, goal hero Paul Ritchie admitted: "I haven't scored since I grabbed one in the reserves two years ago.
But Neil Pointon said to me at half-time he would play the ball into the near post and I should look for it there.
That's the way it worked." Thistle manager Murdo Macleod said: "We did not deserve anything from this game." Obviously unhappy with his players, he added: "Milne will be disciplined.
It was a silly moment for him and it was right in front of us in the dug-out." The men from Firhill seemed to have arrived looking to force a replay.
That, however, was not on Hearts' agenda.
They wanted this game, this tie, out of the way and they went about it in a positive manner.
In the opening minutes, Nicky Walker halted a try from John Colquhoun on the line, and then was able to deal with an Alan Johnston effort in the seventh minute.
In 28 minutes, Hearts came desperately close to giving their fans the goal they all wanted.
Neil Pointon sent in a free kick from the right, Dave McPherson headed it down and Pasquale Bruno managed a shot, only to see it blocked by the brave Walker.
It was the sixty-third minute before the game was decided.
Pointon took a corner, swung it into goal, and while the Thistle defenders failed to attack the ball young Ritchie moved in front of them and guided a header beyond Walker and into the net.
Minutes later Johnston, had a shot pushed over the bar by Walker and that confirmed the home team's superiority.
There were few occasions when Thistle seriously threatened to take the game back to a Firhill replay.
And four minutes from the end, when defender Milne was red-carded, the game was up.
Earlier, manager Jim Jeffries had to re-think his game plan after a bizarre injury to midfielder Steve Fulton - at 4.30 in the morning.
Fulton slipped on ice and hurt his ankle outside his Cumbernauld home after his wife went into labour and he had to rush her to hospital.
It all ended happily enough, with Mrs Fulton giving birth to a healthy 10lb 1oz baby boy and, of course, Hearts winning their cup-tie.
HEARTS - Rousset, Locke, Ritchie, McPherson, McManus, Bruno, Johnston, Colquhoun, Robertson, Mackay, Pointon.
Substitutes - Lawrence, Smith, Millar.
PARTICK THISTLE - Walker, Dinnie, Milne, Pittman, Welsh, Watson, W McDonald, Foster, Henderson, Cameron, R McDonald.
Substitutes - Docherty, Smith, McWilliams.
Referee - H Dallas (Motherwell).
Taken from the Herald