In front of a crowd of just over 4000 at Firhill, Dundee United showed their Premiership credentials with a 4-1 away win.

A perfect hat-trick from Lawrence Shankland and a tap-in from Adrian Sporle saw Robbie Neilson’s team dish out a hammering, as the home side’s initial resistance eventually wilted.

McCall has some thinking to do (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

In a stretched opening few minutes, the first chance of the game fell to Thistle. Alex Jones drove down the right side and fired in a cross, which was cleared only to Reece Cole on the edge of the area.

The no.12 cut back onto his right foot and fired towards the visitor’s goal, but his effort was deflected wide. Despite vociferous calls from the hosts for a penalty, referee Willie Collum pointed for a corner and the danger fizzled out.

In response, United went straight up the other end, with Lawrence Shankland’s header the first attempt on target.

Shankland was brilliant. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The Jags got plenty of joy in behind the visitors in these early stages with Jones, in particular, causing problems and looking to play in teammates.

A scrappy period then ensued, with both sides struggling to get the ball down and play. The hosts were still showing more intent, though, and as the clock ticked towards the half-hour mark, Dario Zanatta fashioned a great opportunity.

Weaving his way in from the left flank, it opened up for Canadian, but his well-struck shot was too central and beaten away by Benjamin Siegrist.

Good stop. (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

This effort seemed to spark the game into life once more with Steven Saunders booked for cynically stopping a United counter soon after. Declan Glass then fired wide from the edge of the area, before at the end of a swift Thistle counter-attack, Kenny Miller missed a glaring opportunity.

Left unmarked at the back post, he was picked out by a cross from the left side, but after controlling well, could only fire straight at Siegrist.

It was end to end stuff at this stage and Scott Fox was called into action soon after. Following a quick free-kick, Nicky Clark took aim from 25 yards and saw his effort just tipped around the post.

Just denied. (photo by David Young/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Then, finally, the first goal arrived, with the visitors taking the lead. No prizes for guessing who scored it.

Despite being surrounded by Thistle defenders, Lawrence Shankland rose highest to meet an inswinging corner and guide in a glancing header, much to the delight of the travelling Arabs.

On the brink of the interval, it was two. Shankland picked up the ball in space around 30 yards from goal and drove at the home defence. Unselfishly, he slipped in Glass, whose shot-cum-cross found Adrian Sporle to tap home at the back post.

Unselfish youngster. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

On the balance of play, the 2-0 half-time scoreline was harsh on the Jags. Ian McCall made one change at the break, bringing Tommy Robson on for Jones. Yet, it was more of the same after the interval.

Despite the home side being the more progressive for the first ten minutes, United would fashion the first real chance and extend their lead further courtesy of a Lawrence Shankland solo effort.

Played in behind the home defence, he cut in onto his right foot and travelled across the edge of the box looking for an opening. Just when it looked as though the angle was against him, he pulled the trigger and fired a sweetly struck shot into the bottom right corner.

On fire. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Fives minutes later, United made it four as things threatened to get out of hand. Shankland, now visibly brimming with confidence, sprayed the ball out wide to substitute Peter Pawlett.

As home defenders scrambled to cover the six-yard box, Pawlett pulled the ball back to the onrushing Scotland international, who took one touch to control before firing home with his left foot, completing a perfect hat-trick in the process.

The 24-year-old was booked for his celebrations in front of the away end.

As some reward for their efforts, Thistle did get a late consolation goal, with Kenny Miller converting slotting home a rebound after Siegrist had palmed away an effort from distance.

Consolation. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

A negative point from an otherwise excellent outing for United, was seeing the influential Nicky Clark helped from the field with what looked to be a bad injury, shortly after the fourth goal.

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