SPFL Development League
Tue 12 April, 2016. Kick Off: - 18:00
Glebe Park, Brechin
With only three games of the Development League season remaining Thistle headed to Glebe Park in Brechin to face Dundee United as the side looked to returning to winning ways following defeat to Motherwell six days earlier.
Scott MacKenzie made two changes to the side which went down to Motherwell with James Penrice missing through suspension and Jordan Leyden dropping out of the squad. Michael McMullin went to left back allowing Scot Whiteside to re-unite his partnership with Edin Lynch. David Wilson also returned to the heart of the midfield having served a one match ban. In the United side was former loanee Robbie Muirhead as well as internationalist Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
Thistle started the game strongly and nearly took the lead in the first minute when McCarthy pounced on a wind assisted clearance. The angle was too tight for him and McGovern collected the ball. With Thistle doing all the running in the opening seven minutes it was a surprise to all when United took the lead.
A long ball from Ballantyne found Ali Coote charging into the box and he drilled a low effort beyond the helpless Cullen to give United the lead.
Thistle were undeterred by the loss of the early goal and continued to impose themselves on the game. Nisbet fired an effort wide of target by a matter of inches before a tremendous block from Ballantyne denied David Wilson.
It was an entertaining game as both sides played open attacking football and Nisbet was next to test McGovern with a fizzing free kick that the goalkeeper had to gather at the second attempt.
Conor Cullen had to produce an excellent save from Muirhead who seemed destined to double the United lead from inside the six yard box, before reacting instinctively to save a Sinama-Pongolle header from a Muirhead cross.
Thistle came close to getting a leveller in the 37th minute. McInally sent over a terrific low cross which found Neil McLaughlin. He sent the ball goalwards, beating McGovern, but not Souttar who cleared the ball off the line before tumbling into the goal netting. The goal was merely delayed by a matter of seconds.
Nisbet, who had been dangerous all first half, met a through ball ahead of the defence before sliding the ball under McGovern, who had advanced from his box, to net his 15th goal of the season. Thistle were galloping forward at will with confidence and United were lucky to be level at half time when McMullin advanced into the box, electing to pass to Nisbet when a shot would have had McGovern in trouble. McLaughlin was also denied by a last ditch tackle as the sides entered half time level.
Thistle lost David Wilson to injury early in the second half and United were able to gain a bit of midfield dominance for the following ten minutes. Muirhead crashed a header off the bar from a corner kick before Stokes went on a rampaging run and fires an effort just wide of the post.
Nisbet got in behind Harry Souttar and drilled a low effort across the box before United re-took the lead.
Johnson danced his way down the Thistle left and his low cross was met by Sinama-Pongolle from six yards. Cullen saved well from a Souttar header before setting Thistle away on the counter attack. Nisbet danced away from the defence. His effort forced a great save from McGovern, but the rebound fell straight to McLaughlin. He tapped home from inside the box to make it 2-2 with just over 20 minutes to play.
It was almost dejavu as Thistle broke away after Cullen had saved another Souttar header from a corner. This time though, McInally couldn’t quite do enough to send the ball goalwards from a Stokes delivery.
From the United clearance, Smith advanced into the box, squaring the ball for Murrell who sent the ball past the helpless Cullen as United regained the lead for the third time.
It would have been worse for the young Jags as Cullen made a tremendous point blank save from Johnson.
Thistle tried hard to grab a third equaliser but it wasn’t to be as McGovern was able to keep punching away under heavy Thistle pressure.