After his impressive performance at Dens Park, Ryan Scully kept his place in goal for the visit of Ross County to Firhill. The only other change seeing Kris Doolan return to the starting eleven with Stephen O’Donnell dropping to the bench.
The early winter sun did little to disguise the sharp chill in the air and there was little to warm the Thistle fans in a first half that saw the league leaders establish a 1-0 advantage.
County came to the game brim full of confidence after wins in each of their last five league games and they were close to taking a lead as early as the second minute of this game. Ryan Scully, who hadn’t conceded a single goal in his two previous outings for the first team, saw that record maintained only by virtue of a header striking the bar as Thistle failed to deal with a corner from the right.
Thistle were playing some neat football but without much penetration but David Rowson came close in the 7th minute with an effort from just outside the County box.
County were looking a well organised and solid looking outfit it was obvious why their recent good run had taken them to the top of the league and they took a 26th minute lead in this game. Conrad Balatoni’s header clear should perhaps have cleared the lines more effectively but credit is due to Iain Vigurs whose shot from 25 yards out gave Scully little chance.
County could, and perhaps should, have doubled that lead in the 37th minute. Vigurs ball forward was collected by Colin McMenamin leaving the striker who has scored many a goal against Thistle with just Scully to beat. Scully though did well to spread himself and on this occasion McMenamin was denied a goal against Thistle. Vigurs too came close to a second goal for County with an effort that hit the side netting.
Thistle meantime were struggling to make much inroad against a well drilled County defence although Kris Doolan was just inches off target with a well struck effort from outside the box.
The fact that Thistle’s best first half effort came from outside the box was indicative of the problems Thistle were having in getting in behind the County defence. They did, however, manage to do just that ten minutes into the second half. Paul Cairney did well to set up Kris Doolan whose first time shot was just too straight to unduly trouble the County keeper.
A second County goal though would have left Thistle with a huge mountain to climb to get back into the game and in the 64th minute County were close to that second goal. Scully again doing well to deny Vigurs with Alan Archibald on hand to clear as the loose ball headed towards the vacant Thistle net. Seconds later Gardyne blazed a good chance wide of target as County looked to secure the win and consolidate their position at the top of the league.
Thistle’s response was a Kris Doolan headed from a Paul Cairney corner that Fraser stepped to his right to save.
Fraser was more pressed to keep out a David Rowson effort a few minutes later but again Thistle had had to resort to shooting from distance in search of an equaliser.
Thistle were pressing hard though and in the 78th minute Paul Cairney’s cross from the left was met by the head of Kris Doolan but he couldn’t direct his header past Fraser and into the net.
A Thistle equaliser though was looking less and likely but with two minutes remaining only the fingertips of Michael Fraser denied Thistle a goal. A Stephen O’Donnell corner broke to Doolan 12 yards out and Fraser was forced into a full length save to keep the ball out.
That was Thistle’s last effort on goal as County held out for the sixth consecutive victory.