Sat 12 July, 2014
Thistle make their second pre-season outing this evening with another fixture being played at the Pinatar Arena in Spain. Tonight sees the Jags go head to head with Championship side, Brighton and Hove Albion. The south coast outfit, managed by Sami Hypia, finished sixth last season but were beaten by DerbyCounty in the playoff semi-finals.
Having got off to a strong start against FC Pinatar Arena earlier in the week the team has continued to train hard with sessions on the pitch, in the gym and in the pool. Thistle boss, Alan Archibald, believes that all of the hard work will put the team in good stead for tonight’s match.
Alan said: “It took a couple of days to get used to the heat but we’ve trained really well during the week. I said it ahead of the game against FC Pinatar and it’s the same for tonight’s game – it’s all about fitness and match sharpness. Both are getting better with every day of training and with every game we play I expect to see an improvement.
“Brighton are obviously an experienced outfit playing in a top English league and the fact that they made it as far as the playoffs last year shows exactly what level they are operating at. We just need to concentrate on our game though and make sure we start to put some of the work we have been putting in on the training pitch into action in the match.
“The players are looking forward to the challenge and it’s a good way to finish off what has been a hard but very rewarding week. Hopefully we’ll be able to give the fans that come along a decent show and it will certainly be a good work out for the players.”
It’s not all been plain sailing for the manager though with a few players picking up knocks or strains along the way.
“I don’t think we’ve got anything too serious but it’s often the way during pre-season that a few boys pick up a knock or a niggle – it’s all just part of returning to a tough pre-season. All in all it leaves us a bit short but it just means some of the younger lads will get more of a chance to prove themselves in the game tonight.
“The guys that have stepped up from the 20s have done well so far this week and a couple of them will get a chance again tonight.”
Unfortunately for Declan McDaid, who scored two of the goals against FC Pinatar, will miss out tonight having picked up a thigh strain. Bannigan is also set to miss out along with Wilson and Colina. However, Doolan, who missed the earlier game with an ankle injury, should be involved this evening. Welsh and O’Donnell remain sidelined with long term injuries however the latter has returned to training this week.
Kick off is at 6pm (UK time) at the Pinatar Arena and you can follow the game on the Thistle Twitter account: @Thsitletweet.
In a game that started off in a much more even fashion than it began the strength and depth of the Championship side’s squad shone through as the south coast side ran out 4-0 winners.
The first half was very even for the most part with much of the game being played in midfield. The Scottish Premiership team matched Brighton for more than 40 minutes. In truth it was a 45 minutes that contained few chances.
Thistle, who were already struggling with injuries were further hampered when one of their trialists was forced off after 15 minutes with a thigh strain. Youngster Keenan was his replacement and he more htan filled the gap for the remainder of the half.
The first real chance fell to Brighton after a ball into the Thistle box wasn’t dealt with properly ad the resulting shot was blocked by Balatoni on its way into the back of the net.
It was then Thistle’s chance to go close with a Fraser cross just going over Doolan’s head, before another cross, this time from Higginbotham, clipped the bar before Elliott’s follow up shot was blocked inside the six yard box. Gary Fraser also had a shot fly just wide after 36 minutes and it looked like Thistle were going to match the Championship side until half time.
Sami Hypia’s side had other ideas though and when Solomon March’s looping cross found Craig Mackail-Smith unmarked in the box he didn’t think twice before slotting it low past Scott Fox.
Thistle probably would have taken 1-0 at half time but would have been disappointed to concede a second. Brighton won a corner and, although the first ball was met by a Thistle head the defence couldn’t deal with it when it dropped and Gordon Greer rose to meet it and head it home.
After half time Brighton made a raft of substitutions but didn’t look like taking the foot off the gas. If anything the fresh legs proved more problematic for the tiring Thistle team and on 50 minutes they got their third. It was Fenelon this time, with another header, this time from just inside the six yard box, and it was difficult to say that it wasn’t deserved after he had two other shots charged down minutes earlier.
From there on Thistle struggled to deal with Brighton’s attacking threat and, on 80 minutes, Thistle gave the ball away in their own half and Charlie Harris laced a 20 yard strike into the top corner to make it 4-0.
The closing 10 minutes were seen out at a slow pace mostly with simple midfield passing until, in the 87th minute Bruno hit a shot that required a top save from Fox to stop the deficit hitting five.
In the end it was a deserved win for Brighton but the score line was certainly harsh on Thistle whose first half display itself deserved a goal.
No match reaction