Sat 19 July, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
Dumbarton Football Stadium, Dumbarton.
After the third week of full pre-season training, Thistle take on Dumbarton at the Bet Butler Stadium in their third pre-season friendly. Having already played FC Pinatar Arena and Brighton during a pre-season training camp in Spain, this game is the first to be played back in Scotland.
Although results have been mixed so far – a 3-1 win against FC Pinatar Arena and a 4-0 defeat to Brighton – Thistle boss Alan Archibald was quick to emphasise the focus remains on fitness and match sharpness rather than the result.
He said: “It was great to get off to a win after the first game but the score line really isn’t what I’m concerned with. Both Scott Paterson and I are really looking at how the boys react in game situations and how their fitness and sharpness are starting to come back to them.
“We’ve been training for three weeks now and in that time we’ve definitely seen the fitness side of things improve. Match sharpness will definitely come too, we’ve had the lads with balls at their feet from pretty much day one and we should be starting to see the benefits of that now.”
Thistle returned to training this week after a week training in the Spanish sun during a training camp based just outside Murcia. Alan definitely thinks the trip has helped the team on a number of levels.
“Getting away is great for the whole team. It gets us out of the usual routine and doing things a bit differently. Training in the heat was tough but I think we’ll see the benefits in terms of the lads’ fitness, particularly at the beginning of the season.
“The only real downside for me was that we came back with a couple of niggling injuries so there will be a couple of guys missing when it comes to the game tomorrow. It has left us a bit short but, at the same time, we do have a few trialists in so it will give them a real chance to impress. We’ve also got a few boys making the step up from the under 20s as well and they’ve got a real opportunity to show what they can do.”
Thistle’s first public pre-season outing in Scotland ended in a 1-1 draw against a very capable Dumbarton side, Dumbarton’s return to competitive action coming next weekend; a full 18 days before our own return to the serious stuff.
With four trialists in the Thistle starting eleven and a further two on the bench there was an unfamiliar look to the Jags side for this game, a game that came firmly under the heading of typical pre-season fare. This, in truth, was a less then gripping affair for the crowd of 600 or so.
Kallum Higginbotham looked in the mood for Thistle early on and some skilful play from him gave Thistle their first hint of an opportunity in the 6th minute of the game. His pass, after he had created some space for himself at the left corner of the box, though was just a little too far in front of one of the trialists who linked up well down the left hand side with Higginbotham.
A minute later Thistle again threatened down the left hand side with Kris Doolan acrobatically sending an effort wide of the Dumbarton goal.
Thistle perhaps enjoyed the bulk of possession during the opening half but it was almost on the stroke of half-time before they had another notable effort on the Dumbarton goal. Kris Doolan spotted Higginbotham to his left and he curled his shot just over the crossbar.
While the Dumbarton keeper wasn’t required to make a save on that occasion, or indeed throughout the opening half, his opposite number; Scott Fox, did have to produce a couple of smart saves in the opening 45 minutes.
In the 24th minute the Thistle keeper did well to palm a shot from Kirkpatrick away from his goal and with half-time just eight minutes away he pushed away a shot from Dumbarton’s trialist number 11 after Thistle were nearly caught by an incisive Dumbarton counter attack.
Despite the almost constant introduction of substitutes the second half of this game was a livelier affair although again it was typical of some many pre-season fixtures.
Eleven minutes into the second half and the deadlock was broken when the Championship side took the lead. A cross came over from the Thistle left and Bryan Prunty was able to stoop and head the ball beyond the reach of Scott Fox and into the corner of the net.
The same player very nearly doubled Dumbarton’s lead a few minutes later but Thistle were level in the 68th minute. New boy Ryan Stevenson, one of a number of half-time substitutions, found the net with a shot from the edge of the box that took a touch off a Dumbarton defender.
Just over a minute later Thistle were very nearly in front but one of Thistle’s trialist, a second half substitute, saw his shot blocked by the legs of the Dumbarton goalkeeper.
A Jordan McMillan effort suffered a similar fate as Thistle pushed for a winning goal and the trialist striker was again denied a goal by the body of Grindlay in the Dumbarton goal.
At the other end Scott Fox was required to a touch a McCallum shot round the post for a corner kick before, with the final whistle just a matter of minutes away, David Wilson came close to finding a winner for Thistle with a shot that just crept wide of goal.
Next up for Thistle is a trip to Belfast next Sunday and a meeting with Glentoran.
No match reaction