Partick Thistle 1 PARS 1, Scottish Cup, fourth round. After extra-time, Partick win 4-2 on penalties.

ATHLETIC have suffered penalty shoot-out heartbreak in the Scottish Cup this afternoon after a thrilling fourth round clash with Partick Thistle.

Skipper Kyle Benedictus, who netted from the spot to give the Pars a first half lead, and Matty Todd both missed in the shoot-out, with Anton Dowds netting the Jags's fourth penalty from four to send them through at Firhill.

It was harsh on the visitors after an impressive display from James McPake's side, who created some excellent opportunities against their opponents from the division above.

Kyle MacDonald, who headed over whilst unmarked, and Craig Wighton, denied by an outstanding stop from Jamie Sneddon, had their best in the opening period, whilst Chris Hamilton spooned an effort over at the far post in extra-time.

Thistle did have opportunities too, and equalised six minutes into the second half through Aidan Fitzpatrick, but exiting the competition will be a tough pill for the Pars to swallow.

Assistant manager, Dave Mackay, who felt the Pars had the best chances, said afterwards: "When you go to penalties, it can go either way.

"We're disappointed for the players but the overall performance, I thought throughout the 120 minutes, was outstanding.

"In terms of some of the play, fitness levels, attitude, application, we can't ask for much more. On another day, it goes for you.

"Disappointment obviously to go out, but loads of pride in the players."

Jags boss, Ian McCall, was delighted to get through, and said:"I thought the game was very even. I don't think any team deserved to win it."

On the Pars, where he spent time as a player, he added: "We're not playing a League One team, don't let anyone fool you about that."

Visiting boss McPake made just the one alteration, which was enforced, to the team that defeated Peterhead last weekend.

Sam Fisher, whose loan spell was ended after being recalled by parent club Dundee yesterday (Friday), was replaced in defence by Breen.

Although the Pars headed into this tie with the better overall head-to-head record with their opponents, as well as having won eight and drawn one of 11 previous Scottish Cup meetings, they were beaten at Firhill by a single goal in last year's tournament.

That was one of their three trips to Glasgow to face the Jags in league and cup, two of which ended in defeat, the other a draw, all of which without a goal for the visiting fans to cheer.

However, they arrived in Maryhill a different proposition, albeit in a division below, having lost just twice in all competitions this season; at top flight Ross County in the Viaplay Cup group stage in July, and Montrose in League One in October.

They had also conceded just five goals away from home throughout the campaign, but came up against a Thistle side sitting fourth in the Championship, and who had won five, and drawn one, of their last seven games in all competitions.

In the early stages, the attacking intent from both teams was evident, with the visitors making a bright start.

Joe Chalmers had an early sighter from distance blocked, before providing a cross that Breen headed wide, before superb play from MacDonald caused more problems for the Jags.

The right wing back did well to beat his man and run into the box, attempting to pull the ball back for one of a few black and white shirts.

The ball, however, broke back to him, which home keeper, Jamie Sneddon, then turned behind for a corner.

Although that delivery was cleared, Todd sent a clean, crisp drive towards goal, but flashed it wide of target.

Thistle, though, served notice of their threat when Fitzpatrick was sent scampering clear on the right.

He made his way into the box and, after checking back onto his left foot, shot towards Deniz Mehmet's near post, but the Pars keeper turned the ball behind well.

Scott Tiffoney then fizzed one wide for Partick but, in the 25th minute, the Pars created a golden opportunity.

Todd crossed from the left and Wighton did well to take a touch away from his marker.

Although it forced him wide, he layed it back for Todd, whose cross found MacDonald, unmarked, at the far post, but he headed over the bar.

It was an effort that should have at least hit the target, but, in keeping with the opening period, play was soon at the other end.

Tiffoney went down looking for a spot-kick from a Fitzpatrick cross, with Lambie not interested, before Stuart Bannigan saw a curler saved by Mehmet, while Wighton sent Todd scampering forward for the Pars, but Sneddon was equal to his shot.

Two minutes later, Dunfermline created another fantastic chance - and produced a stunning save from Sneddon.

MacDonald's cross from the right found Todd at the far post, who cushioned the ball superbly into the path of Wighton.

The Pars number nine couldn't have hit it any better but Sneddon, somehow, turned the ball over for a corner, from which Breen headed over.

Then Thistle had a golden chance to score.

Breen covered the run by Fitzpatrick on the left and Mehmet came rushing out of his goal to collect at the edge of the box.

He appeared to have hold of the ball, but it suddenly was loose and, thankfully, the Jags man rolled it into the sidenetting.

Three minutes from the break, though, came the game's big talking point - and opening goal.

Dunfermline took a short free-kick midway inside the Thistle half only for Lambie to point to the spot.

He had deemed that Hodson had fouled Breen, as the Pars players awaited a delivery, and that gave Benedictus the opportunity to score his fifth goal of the season, which he took emphatically.

However, six minutes after the restart, the Championship side were level.

Danny Mullen was the creator, controlling well before playing the ball infield for Fitzpatrick who, from around 20 yards, fired a clean, crisp, low drive in off the upright to beat Mehmet.

Athletic, however, regrouped and responded well to the equaliser, and came inches away from regaining the initiative just after the hour mark.

From a Chalmers corner, the ball was flicked into the path of Hamilton, who had a shot.

It fell into the path of Wighton who, from around eight yards, sent the ball just wide of the post.

Lewis McCann, on as a substitute for Chris Mochrie, flashed a fine effort just past from 18 yards after a free-kick was cleared out to him, but the second half was a much more cagey affair than the first.

Still, further opportunites were there; Harry Milne looped a header over the bar for Partick, whilst Breen, after the ball broke back his way after challenging from a corner, produced a solid stop from Sneddon with a decent strike.

However, although the Pars finished strongly, neither team could find a decisive goal in 90 minutes, sending a gripping game into extra time.

The biggest moment in the first period of the additional 30 minutes came right at the end, when a superb inswinging cross from Edwards to the far post found Hamilton, who could only scoop the ball up and over the bar.

Substitute, Darren Brownlie, headed well wide of goal at the start of the second half of extra time for Thistle, but, despite both teams' best efforts, they couldn't find a winner and an absorbing tie went to penalties.

Benedictus stepped up first for the Pars, but struck the top of the bar as the ball went over.

Despite MacDonald and McCann netting, three perfect kicks from the Jags, courtesy of Aaron Muirhead, Kevin Holt and Kyle Turner, set up Dowds to win the tie after Sneddon gussed right to save from Todd.

The Jags sub made no mistake, sending Mehmet the wrong way, to hand Dunfermline a desperately unfortunate exit.

Partick Thistle: Sneddon, McMillan (MacKenzie 89), Milne, Holt, Turner, Tiffoney (Dowds 64), Bannigan (Brownlie 100), Hodson, Mullen, Fitzpatrick (Smith 90), Muirhead.

Subs not used: Akinola, Lyon, Mitchell.

Goal: Fitzpatrick (51).

Booked: Turner (90), Milne (104), Brownlie (111).

Pars: Mehmet, Breen, Benedictus, Comrie, MacDonald, Edwards, Hamilton, Chalmers (Ritchie-Hosler 100), Todd, Wighton (O'Hara 79), Mochrie (McCann 57).

Subs not used: Todorov, Young, Tod, Sutherland, Mahon, Little.

Goal: Benedictus (42, pen).

Booked: Edwards (117).

Referee: Scott Lambie.

Attendance: 3,218.