It was something of a Generation Game at Firhill on Saturday, minus a few Brucie asides and the chance to win a teasmaid on the prize conveyor belt, of course. Scott McDonald is a sprightly 35. Aidan Fitzpatrick is a lively 17. Some of Partick Thistle’s striking options may be at opposite ends of the age spectrum but the man and boy both made telling contributions at the weekend as Gary Caldwell’s side hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a last gasp victory over a crestfallen Dundee United.

A frisky encounter, which featured some contentious – some would say comical – decisions from the referee and the kind of gung-ho finale which resembled a frenzied school playground kickabout with the bell ringing, was decided with Fitzpatrick’s injury time winner. Even then, there was still time for United to find the net again themselves only for Pavol Safranko’s jab to be chalked off for offside. The visitors accepted that decision. It was the controversial call made by match official Alan Newlands earlier on which stuck firmly in their craw as he denied what Robbie Neilson described as the “most blatant penalty you’ll see in your life” when Miles Storey dunted into Jamie Robson.

Fitzpatrick’s winner in the dying embers added a great fistful of salt to the United wounds and sparked a mass huddle of jubilant humanity behind the goal.

Fitzpatrick had a chance to score before that but opted to go it alone instead of squaring the ball to his well-placed team-mate, Lewis Mansell. On this occasion, Mansell fed Fitzpatrick and the teenager finished with grand aplomb. With a William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay coming up against Hearts tomorrow night, this was another timely lift to the growing Thistle morale. “What a feeling it was to score,” gushed Fitzpatrick in the aftermath. “I had chances before it so I had to repay the team. It was massive for the fans and the team as a whole and it sets us up for Tuesday night and hopefully for the rest of the season. We put in a good performance in the second half against Hearts (in the first game) and we know we can beat anyone in this league and hopefully we can push on. We know from Monday night that we should’ve won (against Hearts) and we know we can go there and win.

“It’s an amazing buzz you get inside when you hear the fans and you think ‘they are singing my name and no one else’s’. It’s a confidence boost for me to know the fans have got my back.”

The wily experience of old hand McDonald continues to bear fruit for Thistle both on and off the pitch. “He’ll pull you aside in training and say ‘do this and do that’,” added Fitzpatrick as he continues to benefit from the Australian’s striker’s well-travelled pearls of wisdom. “He’ll pass on things that he’s learned over the years in the game and I’m thankful for it.”

After last weekend’s injury time loss to Inverness Caley Thistle in the Scottish Cup, this was another sickening late show for United as they slithered eight points behind frontrunners Ross County in the race for automatic promotion.

“One point would have been inconsequential, we’re hunting down County and we needed the three,” said the United defender Mark Reynolds. “It’s a sore one take. We need to try and keep plugging away. County have been relentless and have got win after win but we’ve still got to play them twice and stranger things have happened. The games are just going to get bigger and bigger. We need to stand up to that and deal with it. A club like this expects to be in the Premiership. Teams look on us as a scalp and have their own needs to win."