ALMOST build it and they will come.

This was the day thousands of Hearts fans had waited for to catch a glimpse of their new, shiny main stand. It was a day that almost didn’t arrive. Uncertainty enshrouded the Gorgie side’s return to their spiritual home in the run up to this fixture as the game’s fate still hung in the balance right to the death. final word on its ability to proceed only coming around six hours before kick off. courtesy of a last-gasp safety check.

It was a potential delay which brought frustration and incredulity in equal measure as visitors Partick Thistle were left hanging on to find out if the game would indeed go ahead. After they managed to carve out a thoroughly deserved 1-1 draw – courtesy of an 85th minute Kris Doolan effort cancelling out Esmael Goncalves’ opener – they’ll be delight it did.

That’s more than can be said for their hosts. Pageantry was the order of the day beforehand. The match was delayed by 15 minutes due to queues outside the ground, while once eventually in the ground the home support was treated to a rendition of the Hearts Song by Scott Hutchison, the lead singer of rock band Frightened Rabbit, before enough fireworks to launch Edinburgh Castle into orbit greeted the teams on to the park at 3.15pm.

That was where the majority of their spark ceased.

The new main stand at Tynecastle was emblematic of the team in maroon playing in front of it – ragged around the edges and far from the finished article under Craig Levein. Unpainted walls, empty wall sockets and hanging wires was the internal scene inside the structure on the side of the park while on it lost second balls, disjointed attacks and more loose passes than you could shake a paint brush at threatened to take the gloss off the whole occasion as angst set in. That point was typified by goalscorer Goncalves who just a couple of minutes after putting his team in front passed the ball to nobody as it was left to trundle out for a goal kick not once but twice in a matter of seconds.

It was a first half that Thistle were comfortable in throughout as their altered 5-4-1 formation – with man-of-the-match Blair Spittal in at left wing-back – kept an uninspired Hearts attack at bay. Indeed, apart from their goal, the only other shot on target of note came after just two minutes, that man Goncalves bulleting a 25-yard free kick low straight into the arms of Tomas Cerny. The majority of the 16,999 inside the ground applauded in anticipation of what they hoped would come. It didn’t really.

Hearts enjoyed plenty of possession in the Thistle half but did little to nothing with it. Danny Devine’s slip on 18 minutes allowed Kyle Lafferty to twist and turn at the edge of the area before firing wide, David Milinkovic managed to blast well over from 30 yards when afforded space in a central position. The buzz from the new main stand turning to groans as hypothermia and frustration set in.

Thistle, on the other hand, appeared calm and cool against Hearts’ high-press tactic. The central midfield pairing of Adam Barton, and Ryan Edwards broke up a lot of the hosts’ momentum with Spittal overlapping down the left to take on young right-back Jamie Brandon. It was a competent first-half showing which should have been capped with a goal on the stroke of the break as loan frontman Miles Storey capitalised on a slip by Aaron Hughes to race in on goal. With just Jon McLaughlin in goal to beat, his composure left him and his low shot skited a few yards wide of the far post.

Into the second half Hearts continued to press against what was a well-drilled Thistle defence, and they eventually got their reward on 54 minutes. Goncalves had struggled to influence the game in the first half yet he managed to conjure a piece of magic 25 yards out on the right to curl a shot with his right foot through a ruck of bodies to arch into the far bottom corner for the Portuguese’s second goal in two games.

The thousands within the new main stand appeared to breathe that bit more easily as a result as the man in the visiting dug out rolled the dice by throwing on Doolan almost immediately. On the hour he nearly nicked in on goal if it wasn’t for a last-ditch Christophe Berra tackle and his presence helped work the Hearts defence. However, not many in the 534-strong away crowd could have foreseen the leveller which eventually arrived on 85 minutes.

A deep Spittal free-kick was knocked on in the middle of the box as a stramash ensued. With Hearts claiming for a handball and offside, the ball broke to the Thistle substitute around six yards out for him to turn it low into the net beyond McLaughlin.

It was a day that eventually started with a big bang for Hearts, but one that was ended, courtesy of Doolan, with a damp squib.