Cove Rangers may have been pitched in at the deep end but Paul Hartley was delighted his side swam rather than sank.
After more than 10 weeks without a game, Mitch Megginson’s late leveller ensured Cove emerged from Firhill with a creditable point against Partick Thistle.
They had gone behind courtesy of Joe Cardle’s goal, but Megginson, as ever, was the man of the hour to ensure the Aberdeen side headed north with a point.
“We were really good,” said Hartley. “Even going a goal down I was delighted with the character the players showed.
“It’s a hard place to come and is our first game in 10 weeks. I don’t know what people are expecting of these games after 10 weeks off. We’ve been thrown right back into it with two weeks of training. Players can only do their best.
“It’s a good point for us after going a goal down. Thistle are one of the favourites to go up, being full-time. We’ve shown we’re a match for anybody in this league.”
Cammy Logan, the defender on loan from Championship leaders Hearts, was handed his Cove debut, with Scott Ross absent through injury. Ross Graham also started after rejoining on loan from Dundee United.
In the reverse fixture between the two sides at the Balmoral Stadium in October, Cove nicked a 1-0 win at the death.
Thistle were fashioning half-chances in the early exchanges, without forcing Stuart McKenzie into any meaningful saves.
Leighton McIntosh, who has mainly been played in a wide role this season, was deployed in a central striking role manned up against Mouhamed Niang.
On a couple of occasions, he had the defender in trouble, pressuring him back towards his own goal, with Niang ill-at-ease in possession.
McIntosh put in a power of work without getting the luck his persistence deserved, while Megginson, who signed a three-year contract extension last week, was held at bay by the home defence.
After 70 minutes with precious few shots at goal, Partick scored with their first on-target attempt.
Substitute Cardle was picked out on the right side of the penalty area, shimmied to throw Adam Livingstone out of his sight of goal and struck through the Cove goalkeeper at his near post.
When they needed a moment of inspiration, though, Megginson was the man to provide it.
Collecting a pass from a falling Fyvie, Megginson rolled across the Thistle backline before scrambling in a shot through a crowd of players.
The teams then resembled two boxers, aware the final bell was coming and willing to take risks.
Megginson was played through again by Rory McAllister with five minutes to go, only for Kieran Wright to smother his attempt.
McKenzie was called into action to keep out Chris Erskine, but neither side was able to find the winner in an entertaining contest.
“I thought the two centre-halves were brilliant – Ross Graham was different class,” added Hartley. “Young Cammy Logan at right-back felt his hamstring towards the end, but defensively did great.
“We came here with 15 players. It’s going to be a tough run for everybody. We’ve tried to add to the group and we’ll see where it is.”