SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Wed 1 March, 2017. Kick Off: - 19:45
Dens Park, Dundee
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As his side go looking for a third win on the trot, Alan Archibald certainly appeared in confident mood when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of Wednesday night’s match away to Dundee. Having said that, the Jags boss isn’t taking anything for granted, especially given where his side were in the table just a few short months ago.
Archibald said: “It’s some turn around since the last time we were up there where we were bottom and second bottom in the league. It’s a massive game for both teams but it’s a chance for us to get into the top six and hopefully stay there for longer than the 20 hours or so we usually last.
“The biggest thing is opening up a gap, we can really start to put a points difference between us and the bottom of the league and that’s what all the teams around us are looking to do. We’ve definitely got our focus on the top six but at the same time you still have one eye on the relegation scrap because the last thing you want is to get dragged into that.
“it’s still so tight that all it takes is a couple of bad results and you’re down fighting again. The flip side to that – and you’ve seen it for us in recent weeks – is that if you get a couple of decent results then you can find yourselves right back up there fighting for a top half finish.”
Despite a distinct turnaround in fortunes Archie can’t put his finger on one specific thing that helped turn his side’s form around.
He continued: “I don’t think there is really anything specific that has changed but you saw the week before Christmas we were still bottom of the league, we put some good results together and the lads stayed positive. We’d had a tough run of games before that but we won the games that really mattered and that was a bit of a springboard.
“When you get one win everyone remembers what it’s like to get results and the confidence around the place completely changes. Sometimes you have to just find a way to win. The most pleasing thing for me is that we have found a way to win. In the early stages of the season we were going a goal ahead and then conceding but we seem to have cut that out of our game.
“I think we’ve had seven clean sheets out of the last nine and a big part of that is the return of Tomas Cerny. That’s no disrespect to the other goalkeepers but for a quarter of the season Tam was in and out and struggling with injuries and there really wasn’t any consistency there. The big thing with Tomas is that he’s a real calming influence and a great character. He’s helped settle what is essentially a completely new back four and that calmness he brings really is invaluable.”
Another major contributing factor to Thistle’s recent form would certainly seem to be the return to fitness of a number of key players. This is reflected in the strong squad Archibald now has to chose from.
“We are looking pretty strong in terms of availability for Wednesday. Obviously Bannigan and Gary Fraser are still out. Sean Welsh joins the longer term injuries after the operation on his achilles but hopefully his recovery goes well, and then there is Ryan Scully who continues to strengthen his shoulder and will hopefully be back available soon.”
A more in depth video interview with Alan Archibald is now available to Jagzone subscribers. Log in now to see it. Jagzone members will also be able to watch highlights of the game from midnight and will be able to listen to live audio commentary from Dens Park.
For a full list of all the great content you can access from just £5.99 per month as a Jagzone member, click here.
Article Copyright © 2017. Permission to use quotations from this article online or in print is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to www.ptfc.co.uk
Thistle win at Dens Park to head sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership table. An own goal from Etxabeguren sealed the three points in a very, very tough game at Dens Park.
Next stop - Pittodrie Stadium on Sunday for Scottish Cup duty
Steven Lawess wins a free kick ten yards inside his own half.
Thistle's back three are standing strong against a barrage of high balls.
Ade Azeez and Christie Elliott try to keep the ball upfield as the minutes dwindle away.
The fourth official has indicated that there will be a minimum of six added minutes.
Played to the edge of the box but comes to nothing.
Azeez does well to win a corner.
Cerny just does well to hold a Haber shot. Thistle just need to settle a bit here as Dundee are finding a bit of space.
An acrobatic effort for El Bakhtaoui goes wide of the post. Nervy moments for Thistle.
A poor corner is too deep for any Dundee players but Thistle don't deal with the second ball and it comes back in to the back post. It's a bit of a let off for the Jags as O'dea's free header goes wide.
A bit of chaos in the Thistle box there as the ball pinballed about before eventually being cleared by Callum Booth. That was followed by a great cross and an outstanding defensive header behind by Danny Devine.
Doolan has the ball in the net after some wonderful play from Thistle but it is cruely ruled offside. Despite being chalked off it's definitely one to watch out for in the Jagzone highlights later on.
A superb shift from Erskine and hopefully a sign of what might be to come on Sunday.
The game has become veery scrappy and quite bad tempered but Thistle are dealing with it well so far.
Thistle just need to be careful here as Dundee have a period of sustained pressure.
Another harsh looking booking as Erskine is shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away - looked very much as if he genuinely didn't hear the whistle though.
Caution for Barton as he puts his arm across McGowan - seemed very harsh.
A double sub for Dundee coming up.
An exteneded stoppage as Etxabeguren goes down with a nasty looking injury. The stretcher is on and Dundee will need to make a sub.
Some brilliant link up play between Elliott and Doolan down the right wing allows Dools to unleash a shot which is well saved by Bain low at his post.
The crowd here tonight is 5,328. An excellent showing from the Thistle fans tonight with 362 travelling - especially impressive considering the midweek kick off and freezing temeperatures!
Ojamaa Almost finds himdself one on one with the keeper but good defending and sharp movement from Cerny prevent him getting a real effort away.
Almost another OG as Christie smashes a ball across the Dundee box but this time it ricochets up off the defender and into the grateful arms of Scott Bain.
An ambitious volley from distance isn't troubling the Thistle goal.
First real save in anger for Cerny As Vincent stings the hands of the THistle custodian. Dundee are putting a bit of pressur eon here with a couple of decent balls into the box but the Jags back three have dealt with them well so far.
An excellent Elliott cross doesn't find a red and yellow shirt.
An Edwards cross finds the head of Doolan but he connected on the turn and the ball ends up well wide of goal.
Almost an embarasing moment for Bain there as he nearly getds himself into all sorts of trouble with Erkine running on. Eventually he gets the ball out of his feet and clears it.
No changes for either side at the break.
A pretty even half has probably edged by the visitors in terms of play and chances but, as we all know, it's the score that counts and on that front Thistle's dominace cannot be argued againt. A bizzare goal (that on inspection of the video evidence is definitely an Etxabeguren OG) is all that seperates the two sides but with Erskine and Doolan clicking well things are looking good for Thistle.
Hopefully more of the same to follow in the second half.
A minimum of one additional minute will be added.
A wonderful cross from Booth finds Edwards in the box but his header is over the bar and the Australian has clocked a sore one to his head in the process so we'll have a short break while receives some treatment. He should be fine to continue though.
Some outrageous skill from Barton sees the ball flicked to Erskine who unfortunately can't round off a lovely move with a shot on target.
It's fair to say the natives are getting restless here as Dundee's passing continues to miss the mark.
Thistle defend a dangerous ball into their area well. It must be said that the side's good defensive form appears to be continuing here at Dens. Hopefully not famous last words.
A bizarre goal that appeared to come off Edwards but could have been an own goal by Etxabeguren and was awarded to Doolan by the PA. Anyway, Doolan found the space on the Dundee bye line after a superb ball from midfield. The Thistle number 9 cut it back across the box and somehow it ended up in the back of the net.
One thing is for sure though, the Jags lead 1-0!
Somme great football from Erskine in the middle of the park allows him to find Doolan just outside the Dundee box but the man chasing his hundredth goal in red and yellow gets little time on the ball and his shot is high and wide. Elliott had made an excellent run down the right wing and in truth may have been the better option.
Ojamaa finds a bit of space for the home side but his shot from 30 yards is comfortably wide of the post.
Thistle just having to weather a bit of a storm here as Kevin Holt hits a shot that definitely had Cerny worried. In the end it only troubles the side netting though.
Poor corner dealt with well by Thistle.
Another heart in mouth moment for the Jags defence as Lindsay sclaffs a clearance over his own bar after a dangerous looking Dundee cross.
A decent cross form Osman finds Edwards in acres of space inside the Dundee box but the Australian's side footed volley is weak and wide. As it happens it probably wouldn't have counted as the linesman appeared to signal an offside.
A nervy moment for Tomas Cerny there as Liam Lindsay played a short back pass thinking the Thistle keeper had more time than he did. Cerny's clearance was closed down by O'Hara. Thistle's number one will have breathed a sigh of relief though as he watched the ball land at the feet of Keown.
Edwards is back in the action as he almost finds Erskine with a really nice looking through ball - there's just a little bit too much on the pass though and the lush Dens Park surface carries it away from Squiddy.
First real chance of the game and it's for Thistle. Erskine again at the centre of things as he sprays a ball wide to Edwards before receiving it back at the edge of the box. His strong side footed shot is well held by Scott Bain.
An excellent long ball from Lindsay finds Doolan in space but the Jags number 9 can't carve the time and space he needs to get a decent effort away.
Positive ealry signs for Archibald's men.
Some excellent link up play between Erskine and Barton almost sees the Thistle number 10 through on goal but the ball through doesn't quie make it. A similar incident moments later again for Erskine but this time it was Dools who was his partner in crime - again the Dundee defence cut out the ball before it can be truly dangerous.
A free kick to Dundee 40 or so yards from goal but the lofted ball is well dealt with by the Jags defence.
Not much in the early exchanges with very little football being played as the two sides sound each other out.
Just less than five minutes until kick of here at Dens Park and it is a clear but freezing cold night.
The players will be out soon as Archibald's men look to take all three points back down the road with them - a three points that will see them move back into the top six.
A reminder that Jagzone subscribers can tune in to live audi commentary of tonight's game here.
A William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final match with Aberdeen was edging ever closer for Partick Thistle but there was still league action for the Jags to deal with as they faced sixth place Dundee at Dens Park. The game represented a chance for the Firhill side to leapfrog the Dees, making a return to the top half of the division.
Thistle have enjoyed a good record against Dundee this season, beating Paul Hartley’s men 2-0 on both occasions that the teams have met during the current campaign. Kris Doolan has scored in both of those meetings and as the marksman moves towards his 100th competitive Thistle goal, the Jags could use his scoring power.
Alan Archibald’s men had been in good form of late but Dundee had also found their stride. In their last Ladbrokes Premiership match, the Dees had scored five in a rampant performance against Motherwell so it would be interesting to see a firing Dundee attack against a Thistle defence that’s been resolute in recent weeks.
One change was made to the side that overcame Hearts on Saturday. Mustapha Dumbuya, who was substituted off as a precaution against the Jambos, wasn’t risked. He was replaced in the starting eleven by Christie Elliott who was making his first start since being sent off against St. Johnstone at the beginning of February.
Thistle kicked the game off and the first opportunity of the match fell to the travelling side. Callum Booth was fed the ball on the left flank and he cut inside, laying the ball into Chris Erskine. The midfielder hit the shot first time and it curled towards goal, however, Scott Bain got a cross well to catch the shot first time.
In the 14th minute, the visitors had another chance to open the scoring. Abdul Osman whipped a cross into the box, picking out Ryan Edwards. The ball was missed by the Dee defenders but Edwards took his eye of the ball and guided a volley well wide of the post from 15 yards out.
Dundee had their first good opportunity of the match in the 21st minute. Henrik Ojamaa found some space ten yards outside the box and opted to shoot. Unfortunately for the Estonian international, his shot flew a few yards wide of Tomas Cerny’s right hand post.
Two minutes after Ojamaa’s attempt, Kris Doolan had his first sight of goal. Chris Erskine turned cleverly past his man before poking the ball through to Doolan. The striker then tries to shoot with his left foot but he cuts across the ball and shoots high and wide.
One minute before the half hour mark, the scoring was opened. Abdul Osman spotted Kris Doolan run down the right hand side of the box. The forward then out muscled opposition defender, Darren O’Dea, and tried to play the ball across the goal to allow the onrushing Ryan Edwards a tap in. However, Julen Etxaberugen of Dundee attempted to intercept the cross and in the process, inadvertently turned the ball into his own net making it 1-0 to the Jags.
There would be one final chance of the half and it fell to Ryan Edwards. Callum Booth crosses in form the left finding his teammate, Edwards. The midfielder then went up for the header but lifted the ball safely over the bar.
The game would see no further action before the interval with the score remaining 1-0. The Jags back three has been as solid as ever, dealing well with the long balls aimed at Marcus Haber. Dundee had been restricted to long range efforts while Chris Erskine’s movement on the ball meant that Thistle looked dangerous. There were no substitutions made at half time.
Seven minutes after the restart, Dundee had another long range opportunity. James Vincent picked up the ball and has time 25 yards from goal. He then set to shoot and unleashed an attempt towards Tomas Cerny’s goal. The Czech stopper was able to parry the shot away from danger and eventually the danger was cleared.
In the 77th minute, the Jags made their first change with Chris Erskine being withdrawn and being replaced by Steven Lawless.
With ten minutes left of the regulation 90, Kris Doolan had the ball in the back of the net. Abdul Osman was cleverly played forward by Steven Lawless and had space in the box. He squared the ball to Kris Doolan who directed the ball into the back of the net but the offside flag was up to deny Doolan his 99th competitive Jags goal.
In the 84th minute, Dundee had a golden opportunity to level the game through the captain, Darren O’Dea. On the second phase of a corner the ball was lifted towards the back post where O’Dea is waiting but he somehow headed wide from two yards wide.
With four minutes left to play, Kris Doolan was taken off. As he walked off, to be replaced by Ade Azeez, he was met by a standing ovation from the travelling Thistle crowd who appreciated the hard work he had done on the night.
Within the closing moments of the game Dundee mustered up a couple of late chances. Firstly, the ball bounced around the box eventually rebounding to El Bakhtaoui who tried an acrobatic attempt, shooting across goal but the attempt went wide of Cerny’s goal, not troubling the Thistle keeper. Secondly, Marcus Haber was played into the box and cut past Niall Keown before shooting at the near post but the attempt went straight at Cerny who caught safely.
Despite six minutes of added time, Thistle stood strong and the game ended 1-0. That meant that Alan Archibald’s side had kept their fourth clean sheet in a row with all of those games being won. The result takes Thistle into the top six until the 11th of March at least.
The midweek also gives the Jags momentum as they now look towards Sunday’s quarter-final against Aberdeen at Pittodrie with kick-off at 15:00.
After watching his side take three points away from Dens Park following a really gritty display in a 1-0 win, Alan Archibald took the time to speak to ptfc.co.uk about his side’s superb win.
“Dens wasn’t a happy hunting ground for us for a number of seasons but we seem to have turned that around this term. It was a great result for us today though and we’re very proud of the performance to go along with it.
“I think it goes down as pretty much the perfect away performance. Every time we turned over possession Chris Erskine was finding a bit of space and he linked up very well with Kris Doolan – especially in the first half. We always looked a threat and created some great openings.”
Thistle grabbed the vital goal on half an hour after a Doolan ball was directed into the Dundee net by centre back, Etxabeguren. It would prove decisive but the Jags had plenty to do before the full time whistle.
“Obviously once we go the goal there was a lot of defending to do but the back three did that ever so well and handled being put under a lot of pressure. That’s four clean sheets on the spin now and every time we pick a team it’s tough to leave people out. We have a great squad though and everyone is pushing to be involved all the time.
“The three centre backs were outstanding today but we defended as a team throughout the 90 minutes. The two sitting midfielders in front of them worked well and it was a very resilient display from the entire unit.”
The result sees Thistle move into the top six but in such a tight league Archie knows nothing can be taken for granted.
“I think if we can keep our place in the top six for a few weeks now we can start building a bit of a gap between us and those below us but for now we’ll just take it one game at a time. This will be the first time we’ve managed to stay in the top six for longer than 20 or so hours so it gives us something to build on and we go into a tough cup tie absolutely full of confidence.
“We now aim to take our league form into the cup against Aberdeen. Everyone knows how good they are and it will certainly be tough but we’ll go into it in great form and with a very positive attitude. We’ll need to be at our very best but we have done OK up there and we just need to give it everything we can. We trust our players in the roles we ask them to do and that is a great position for any management team to be in.”
A more in depth video interview with Alan Archibald is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Chris Erskine and Ryan Edwards. Log in now to see it as soon as it is available.
For a full list of all the great content you can access from just £5.99 per month as a Jagzone member, click here.
Article Copyright © 2017. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to www.ptfc.co.uk