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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Wed 1 January, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
Celtic Park

Match Preview

Celtic v Partick Thistle – 1st January 2014

Sunday’s defeat against Motherwell was obviously a very painful one for all concerned but things move quickly in football and while hopefully lessons will be learned from Sunday’s defeat the focus is now well and truly on the New Year Day trip to play Celtic.

Said Thistle manager Alan Archibald when speaking to [link:HOME];
“The players were naturally very down after the game on Sunday and it was a hard defeat to take. The possession was very even in the first half but in the second half an experienced Motherwell side just picked us off on the counter attack. As I said the players were really down after the game but they are fine now. In many ways this game is the ideal one for us to have after the Motherwell game. It’s not hard to lift the players for a game against Celtic. It’s these types of game that you want to get promoted to play in. Many of the players have never played at Parkhead before and this game gives them the opportunity to regain some pride. We are approaching the game in a positive frame of mind; the players are buzzing ahead of the game.”
New signing Lyle Taylor is set to be involved in the squad for the game.
“We haven’t received clearance for him yet but the SFA have told us that that should be through tomorrow morning and Lyle will be part of the squad for tomorrow’s game. We will need to wait and see whether he will start or not.”
Going into the game there are no fresh injury or illness worries as the virus that hit the dressing room seems to have passed.
“Christie Elliott is feeling better”, said the manager before continuing; “but Jordan McMillan is still unwell and won’t be involved. The virus has been around the place for a wee while now; Aaron Muirhead picked it up after the abandoned St Johnstone game but hopefully we have seen the last of it now.”
The January transfer window will be opening very shortly and the manager is anticipating that there will be further changes to his squad before it closes.
“We’re working on bringing in new faces but it hard. You can think that you have a deal sorted out only for it to fall through at the last minute. You are never certain a deal is going to be completed until it is all done. It could be that there will be one or two leaving in January as well. Henoc Mukendi has already returned to Liverpool and Gary Fraser has gone back to Bolton as they want to have a chat with him. We’re still hoping that we might be able to bring him back in the New Year.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W            D             L              F              A
1              2              3              3              9
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Kris Doolan 7
Steven Lawless 4
Aaron Muirhead 4
Christie Elliott 2
Conrad Balatoni 1
Ross Forbes 1
Kallum Higginbotham 1
Stephen O’Donnell 1
Last Game
Scottish Premiership
Sunday December 29th 2013
Partick Thistle 1, Motherwell 5
Celtic Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W            D             L              F              A
4              0              1              6              6
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Kris Commons 15
Georgios Samaras 8
James Forrest 6
Anthony Stokes 6
Joe Ledley 3
Charlie Mulgrew 3
Teemu Pukki 3
Virgil van Dijk 3
Efe Ambrose 2
Amido Balde 2
Scott Brown 2
Mikael Lustig 2
Bahrudin Atajic 1
Derk Boerrigter 1
Beram Kayal 1
Adam Mathews 1
Last Game
Scottish Premiership
Sunday December 29th 2013
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0, Celtic 1
Last Meeting
Scottish Premiership
Sunday October 27th 2013
Partick Thistle 1, Celtic 2
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Welsh, Muirhead, Balatoni, Craigen (Forbes), Bannigan (Elliott), Doolan, Osbourne, Higginbotham.
Celtic: Forster, Izaguirre (Biton), Ambrose, Dijk, Brown, Samaras, Stokes, Ledley, Pukki (McGeouch), Lustig, Kayal (Balde).
Thistle: Doolan (66)
Celtic: Samaras (33), Balde (75)
Crowd: 7,978

Match Details
Scottish Premiership
Wednesday January 1st 2014
Celtic v Partick Thistle
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Supporters’ Buses Information
Match Officials
Referee: Kevin Clancy
Assistant Referees: David McGeachie and Douglas Ross
Fourth Official: George Salmond
Other Premiership Fixtures
Dundee United v Aberdeen
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Ross County
Motherwell v St Johnstone

Match Report

Celtic v Partick Thistle – 1st January 2014

There was a surprise or two in Alan Archibald’s first selection of the New Year. New loan signing from Sheffield United Lyle Taylor came in to make his Jags debut . Aaron Muirhead returned to the starting line up but not in his normal central defensive role; Aaron occupying a role in the heart of the Thistle midfield. There was surprise too that no place in the starting eleven could be found for either Kris Doolan or Steven Lawless. In Doolan’s absence Scott Fox took the captain’s armband.
The freshly installed Jags captain was in action inside the first minute when he was forced to tip a Pukki header over the bar that looked net bound.
Twelve minutes in and Scott Fox was again called into action diving full length to his right to keep out a well struck free kick from Commons from fully 30 yards from goal.
It was anything but one way  traffic, however, and it was Forster’s turn to make an important stop in the 14th minute. James Craigen won the ball in midfield and he fed the ball to Christie Elliott who in turn pushed the ball inside to Stuart Bannigan who tested the Celtic keeper with a low drive from the edge of the box.
Thistle were a whisker away from taking the lead in the 23rd minute. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair swung over a cross from the left hand side that Christie Elliott was able to connect with at the back post. The Thistle fans were ready to acclaim Thistle’s first goal of 2014 but Forster got just enough of a touch to Elliott’s header to keep the ball out.
Thistle were close again in the 34th minute when it took a touch from Forster to prevent a Craigen header from a Bannigan cross from finding the corner of his net and the pressure on the Celtic goal continued to mount with Thistle winning a number of corners in rapid succession.
It was very much against the run of play then when Celtic opened the scoring in the 37th minute. Thistle had been defending well with the home side, the first few minutes aside, rarely making any impression against the Thistle defence. It was a more direct approach that brought Celtic the opening goal; Joe Ledley finding the net with a crisply struck low drive from 25 yards.
It was Ledley’s goal that separated the teams at the interval with Thistle once again cursing their misfortune.
The game’s next goal was going to be all important and after a low key start to the second half Celtic had the first opportunity but a Ledley free kick from 25 yards out drifted harmlessly over the Thistle crossbar.
Thistle weren’t anywhere near the same threat in the opening stages of the second half as they had been for spells in  the first half and Scott Fox had to produce a smart save to push away a skidding effort from Commons.
There was no lack of belief in the Thistle ranks, however, despite not seeing as much of the vball in the Celtic half,  and shortly after Common’s near miss Thistle were able to break with pace and purpose only for Christie Elliott’s run to be halted, illegally in the eyes of the Thistle player, at the edge of the Celtic box.
Lyle Taylor put in a power of running during his Thistle debut, especially in the first half, but he understandably tired as the game progressed and he was replaced by Kris Doolan after 65 minute.
It was becoming an increasingly hard shift for Thistle as the second half progressed with Celtic enjoying longer and longer spells of possession. They were, however, only rarely able to trouble a resolute Thistle defence. Scott Fox well placed to save a tame Commons effort one of the few direct pieces of action that he had to contend with.
Forster was hardly hard pressed either with Christie Elliott, lively throughout the game, shooting well over Forster’s bar with the game drifting towards the final ten minutes.
Thistle were never out of this game and Steven Lawless saw a shot cleared from close to the Celtic goal line following a Stuart Bannigan corner before Elliott glanced a header wide of target as Thistle maintained pressure on the Celtic goal.
The level of support the magnificent Thistle fans provided their team with throughout the game spoke volumes for the Thistle performance but there was to be no tangible reward for a brave performance that was not lacking in quality.

Match Reaction

Celtic v Partick Thistle – 1st January 2014

Sunday’s heavy defeat at the hands of Motherwell hurt all associated with the Club. Pride was severely dented but some of that pride was regained with a brave performance against Celtic at Parkhead. [link:HOME] caught up with manager Alan Archibald after the game and he was delighted with the response he received from his players.
“First and foremost I have to say that it was great reaction and response from the players. They got a lot of pride back in themselves and in the club after such a bad result against Motherwell. It showed a lot of courage after that result to go out and play as they did where they still wanted to get on the ball. I’m very proud of them. They are a young group and many of them had never played at Parkhead before today. To come here and play like that after such a bad result speaks volumes for their character; which was outstanding.”
Alan continued;
“I’m disappointed to be standing here though merely taking plaudits for how we played at Parkhead because I thought that we deserved to take at least a point from the game. We created enough chances to do so. I’ve been here before and I’ve never seen as many chances created.  I know some of those chances weren’t as clear cut as you would like them to be but in terms of coming to Parkhead I think they were very, very good chances.”
In an afternoon in which he didn’t have too much to do Scott Fox had an important save to make inside the first minute of the game.
“It was vital that we started well and it was vital that we didn’t concede early and that save that Scott Fox made right at the start was very important. Apart from that Scott didn’t have a lot to do and it took a 25 yard effort to beat him.”
It was Celtic that were the happier side to hear the full-time whistle with Thistle searching for an equaliser right up to the finish. Said Alan;
“I thought that we pushed them all the way. Christie Elliott has had a shout for a penalty. I thought at the time that it was a foul but I didn’t realise that it happened just inside the box. It was a definite foul but you don’t get that kind of decision at Parkhead, we all know that.”
A few eyebrows were raised pre-match when people saw the manager’s team selection and Aaron Muirhead occupying a role in the Thistle midfield.
“Aaron is one of those players that when he plays at the back is very comfortable with the football. Since Isaac Osbourne has been out we’ve missed his dig in the midfield and sometime in the middle of the park you miss a bit of organisation and someone to come in and fill the gaps. That’s why we played Aaron there today. We’ve been thinking of doing that for the last couple of weeks and I thought that he did well. He hasn’t played the last couple of weeks but he went in there in a role that is not normal for him in a hard arena to play and I thought that he stuck to his guns and did really well.”
There was a positive performance too from new boy Lyle Taylor.
“Lyle filled the loan striker area. We knew that we could get at Celtic in the wide areas because they tend to over commit with their full backs when they are at home and leave gaps. That’s why we played Lyle and it was could to give him that time on the bench and also good to give Kris Doolan a wee rest as he’s being carrying the burden of the loan striker all season. I was delighted too that David Wilson made his debut today. He ‘s really deserved that after playing so well for the under 20s.”
Focus now is on an incredibly important run of matches coming up starting with a trip to Tynecastle at the weekend.
“We’ve got four massive games coming up starting with Hearts this coming Sunday and we are going to have to utilise everyone in the squad”, said the Thistle manager who was also full praise for the noisy Thistle support at Parkhead.
“They were very noisy throughout the game. The numbers weren’t low but I know that a number of Thistle fans were struggling to get tickets for the game. Those that were there were in fine fettle and in good voice; we heard them right through the game and that’s something the players were talking about after the match.”

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