SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 23 November, 2013. Kick Off: - 15:00
TANNADICE PARK, DUNDEE.
After a break last weekend it’s back to Premiership action tomorrow afternoon with Thistle making the trip to Tannadice to face an in-form Dundee United. The two sides have already crossed swords twice this season. The teams provided the newly formed Scottish Premiership with its’ curtain opener back in August with an entertaining Firhill encounter ending in a goalless draw. The most recent encounter, a League Cup tie at Tannadice, resulted in a 4-1 win for the home side. The score that evening wasn’t an entirely accurate reflection on how the game went but provides an indication of the potent threat that United pose up front. In two of last three games they have scored four goals; those wins at home to St Mirren and away to Motherwell coming either side of a highly credible 1-1 draw away to Celtic.
Coupled with their threat up front United have an impressive defensive record with no side having conceded fewer Premiership goals than Jackie McNamara’s side.
A stern test then lies in wait for Thistle who are desperate to get back to winning ways after a couple of disappointed results in their last two outings and Alan Archibald, when speaking to [link:HOME] after training today, is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“I think that the break came at a good time for us as it gave us the opportunity to work on a few things. A lot of the goals we have been losing recently have come from set plays and that’s something that we’ve spoken to the players about and we’ve showed them a few things. The thing is that sort of thing is largely a mentality thing. You can only coach a player so much; you just hope that when they cross over the white line that they do the things that you have told them. The first goal is ever so important. In the First Division last season the team that scored first invariable ended up the winning team and that’s even more so in the Premiership. You saw how important the first goal was in our last game against St Mirren when they scored from the corner following what had been their first shot on goal.”
“We’re really looking forward to what should be a good game. Dundee United are unlikely to sit in against us and they play a similar type of game to us so it should be a good game to watch. We lost 4-1 when we played them at Tannadice in the League Cup but the game was much tighter than the score suggested. I don’t really like saying that the game was tight when we lost 4-1 but it comes across as being a little false but Jackie agreed with that and felt that we played well that night.”
Our last win came away from home against Inverness Caledonian Thistle which proves that we are capable of winning against the better sides in the division.
“I didn’t think that we played as well as we can do at Inverness but I got a great deal of satisfaction from that win. We’re getting into the winter months and at this time of year you really just want to win; it doesn’t matter how you do that. I would take a repeat of how we won at Inverness every day of the week.”
Finally the manager was able to give us the all important team news ahead of tomorrow’s game.
“Stephen O’Donnell and Gary Fraser are both suspended and we have a doubt over Sean Welsh who is struggling with a groin strain. Otherwise everyone is fit and available.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
1 0 4 3 10
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Kris Doolan 5
Steven Lawless 3
Aaron Muirhead 3
Christie Elliott 2
Conrad Balatoni 1
Ross Forbes 1
Kallum Higginbotham 1
Stephen O’Donnell 1
Saturday November 9th 2013
Partick Thistle 0, St Mirren 3
Dundee United Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
2 1 2 10 3
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Nadir Ciftci 7
Ryan Gauld 5
Stuart Armstrong 4
David Goodwillie 4
Gary Mackay-Steven 2
Andrew Robertson 2
Keith Watson 2
Ryan Dow 1
Chris Erskine 1
Paul Paton 1
Saturday November 9th 2013
Motherwell 0, Partick Thistle 4
Scottish League Cup Third Round
Wednesday September 25th 2013
Dundee United 4, Partick Thistle 1
Dundee United: Cierrzniak, Wilson, Robertson, Butcher, Gunning, Paton (Souttar), Goodwillie, Rankin, Graham (Dow), Armstrong, Ciftci (Gauld).
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Welsh, Balatoni, Doolan (Baird), Forbes (Lawless), Piccolo, Elliott, Kerr, Higginbotham (Craigen).
Dundee United: Goodwillie (31, 45, 90), Dow (85)
Thistle: Elliott (89)
Saturday November 23rd 2013
Dundee United v Partick Thistle
Referee: William Collum
Assistant Referees: Willie Conquer and Dougie Potter
Fourth Official: Stevie O’Reilly
Other Premiership Fixtures
Celtic v Aberdeen
Hearts v RossCounty
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v St Johnstone
Kilmarnock v Motherwell
St Mirren v Hibs (12:45)
There was more disappointment for Thistle as they went down to their second 4-1 Tannadice defeat of the season but while the score line from the League Cup tie could be considered harsh on Thistle the Jags could have few complaints surrounding their latest reverse.
After a fortnight’s break without a game Alan Archibald made three changes for this match. Suspension ruled out Stephen O’Donnell while Stevie Lawless and Gabriel Piccolo dropped to the bench. In their place came Jordan McMillan, making his first appearance of the season, Aaron Muirhead and Ross Forbes.
Pre-match Alan Archibald had spoken of the importance of scoring the first goal and he would have been frustrated in the extreme then to see his side concede the first goal with less than 90 seconds on the clock. Ryan Gauld, who would torment Thistle throughout the game, spotted Gary Mackay-Stevens to his left and he placed a shot beyond Scott Fox and into the back of the net.
The remainder of the first was a pretty one-sided affair and Thistle were fortunate in the extreme not to be trailing by more than that early goal by half-time. It took a well-timed tackle from Conrad Balatoni to halt the progress of Gauld as he advanced on the Thistle goal before, just seconds later, Scott Fox produced an excellent save to deny Ciftci. All this still inside the game’s first 5 minutes.
Still the pressure from the home side mounted and Balatoni had to clear an Armstrong effort from close to the Thistle goal line before Paul Paton curled a shot just inches wide of the Thistle goal.
In the 25th minute it took a fantastic last ditch goal line clearance from Aaron Muirhead to keep the score at just 1-0 after an Armstrong pass set up Mackay-Stevens who knocked the ball beyond the reach of Scott Fox. Muirhead’s late intervention taking him into the back of the net which necessitated a halt in play while the net was repaired.
The pattern of play changed little after the break in play with United continuing to do virtually all the attacking. Thistle did have a half chance when Kris Doolan nearly profited from a slack headed back pass from Gunning but his attempted lob didn’t escape the reach of Cierzniak.
The first chance of the second half came United’s way with Fox blocking a Gauld shot with his legs but there was distinct improvement from Thistle who began to impose themselves on proceedings for the first time and in the 56th minute they were, literally, handed a way back into the game; Ross Forbes shot clearly being handled inside the box by Souttar. Aaron Muirhead confidently slotted home the resultant penalty.
For a spell immediately after that goal there was the prospect of even better to come from Thistle. James Craigen found room at the edge of the United box but his shot lacked power and Paul Paton was fortunate to receive only a yellow card for a late challenge on Taylor-Sinclair as Thistle stepped up the pressure.
United, however, were back in front in the 69th minute. Andrew Robertson got in behind the Thistle defence down the United left and he buried a low drive past Scott Fox.
John Rankin was a whisker away from a third United goal in the 73rd minute with a shot that rattled off the base of the Thistle post.
Just a minute later, however, the game did take a decisive turn in United’s direction when Conrad Balatoni collected a second yellow card leaving Thistle to complete the match with ten men.
United wasted no time in taking advantage of their numerical supremacy; Gauld slipping the ball through to Mackay-Stevens who netted his second goal of the game with 14 minutes of the game remaining.
Christie Elliott came close with a shot that was deflected wide as they tried to stage an unlikely comeback but the game’s final goal came at the other end with Brian Graham firing high into the back of the Thistle net in the 84th minute.
A miserable afternoon for Thistle got worst when Stuart Bannigan received a straight red card as the game reached the 90 minute mark. Thistle at least were saved the pain of conceding a fifth goal when Fox saved from Goodwillie in injury time but it was an afternoon best forgotten.
Defeat is never easy at the best of times but Alan Archibald was extra despondent when he spoke with [link:HOME] after yesterday’s 4-1 defeat.
“That’s probably the worst we’ve felt on a Saturday afternoon all season. The first half we just didn’t turn up and we showed them far too much respect. I don’t know why, we warned them about the way that Dundee United play. They are a very good side but they become an even better side when you allow them to play and give them too much space and respect and we certainly did that in the first half.I think you saw in the first 20 minutes of the second half how we wanted us to play right from word go. ”
After being fortunate not to be more than 1-0 down at the interval that impressive period at the start of the second half saw Thistle level the game and we’re right back in what was a very open game at the time.
“I think the game might have been too open at that point. When we got it back to 1-1 we were that eager to try and get another one that we pushed three or four bodies right into the far corner of the pitch and that left us wide open on the other side of the pitch and United picked us on the counter attack.”
The sending off of Conrad Balatoni with the score still 2-1 certainly didn’t help the Thistle cause any.
“It’s hard enough to deal with United’s movement when you have 11 men never mind 10 and then 9 men. The fact that their third goal came so soon after Conrad was sent off meant that it was a real struggle for us from then on.”
And what were the manager’s thoughts on the red card that Stuart Bannigan picked up?
“I’m disappointed with Stuart’s red card because if it goes with consistently then there could have been three or four red cards out there because there was a wee ten minute spell when there were three or four challenges like Stuart’s. With Stuart’s red card the referee actually changes his mind because if I think if you look at the footage of it you see him go for a yellow card and then change his mind and pulls out a red. I don’t know what has caused the referee to change his mind but he’s shouted Stuart back and told him he’s changed his mind and he is sending him off.”
Any positives to take from the game?
“The only positive is the 20-25 minute period in the second half when we showed that’s how we can play.”
Do recent results dent the players’ confidence?
“It definitely does. Anyone looking in from the outside will just see the result and see that we’ve lost three or four goals but in the last two games we’ve gone down to 10 men and then down to 9 men today. That will dent the players’ confidence but it is up to us to pick them up.”