Sat 18 July, 2015. Kick Off: - 15:00
The Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk.
Thistle returned to Scotland for a pre-season friendly against recent Scottish Cup finalists Falkirk. The trip to the Championship side represented the first time Thistle went to the stadium since winning the title in 2012/13. It would also represent a game on an artificial surface which would be good preparation for the surface at Hamilton in two weeks time.
Manager Alan Archibald made seven changes to the side which defeated Eastleigh midweek with only Bannigan, Osman, Frans and Amoo retaining their places in the squad. There was a first start of the pre-season schedule for Ryan Stevenson and Jack Hendry came in as Frederic Frans.
Falkirk are only a week away from competitive action with the Petrofac Cup starting next week and their sharpness proved evident in the early stages as they pounced on poor Thistle ball retention to create a couple of good opportunities. Vaulks robbed Osman of the ball around 25 yards out, playing it in to former Jag John Baird. The strikers powerful shot was low but comfortable for Scully in goal.
Falkirk were dangerous from corners but Thistle managed to scramble the ball away with a couple of last ditch clearances.
Thistle’s one bright spark in the first half was Declan McDaid who showed fearlessness and determination to run at the Falkirk defence, winning a couple of promising free kicks, which Thistle couldn’t fully take advantage of.
It was from one of his lengthy runs that Thistle won a free kick right on the edge of the box after he had slotted the ball inside to Stevenson. Gary Fraser piled the free kick right into the Falkirk wall as the first half concluded.
A raft of changes in the second half disrupted the flow of the rhythm but Thistle’s superior fitness caused them to take charge of the game, becoming a more potent threat in the final third.
A through ball caused Falkirk’s goalkeeper, Rogers, to race from his goal, heading only to David Wilson. He played the ball wide to Booth who fired a dangerous cross into the box which Thistle attackers were unlucky to not get on the end of.
Steven Lawless came off the bench at half time and was having a great impact on the right hand side with some jinking runs into the box. It was Lawless who came closest to scoring when he connected with McDaid’s low cross, finding his shot blocked by a defender on the line.
Alan Archibald will take encouragement from the fact that no player sustained any injuries during the game, although he will be slightly disappointed in the performance.
Next up for Thistle is a game at Firhill against Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night. Kick off is 7:30pm.
Thistle continued their pre-season schedule with a 0-0 drawagainst Falkirk a result that Alan Archibald was slightly disappointed with when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk shortly after the full time whistle. “Eastleigh were at the same stage as us when we played them the other night. Today Falkirk were probably a week ahead of us as they have their first competitive game next Saturday. We still expected more from the lads though, we’ve done a bit of travelling yesterday arriving in Glasgow late last night and that’s the only excuse I can give the boys to be honest. “It might be down to my team selection today, to be honest. I’ve made that team selection purposely so that everyone can get some game time and match sharpness which definitely affected the flow. It affected the way we started the game and I’ll take a bit of blame for that. “There were seven changes to the side which played on Tuesday and saw a couple of players playing in unfamiliar positions throughout the team. “We’re trying to make sure everyone has enough minutes for the start of the season. We know that we’re not going to be able to pick our strongest side for every game next season and
we know some players will have to play out of position. We’re wanting to try different combinations and players in unfamiliar positions. We’ve done it in training every day and it was something we tried in London when we were away. We had a couple of injuries in Seaborne and Lindsay which meant we had to shuffle it about a bit but that’s part of football. Thankfully everyone came through unscathed. “I know it can be a bit frustrating for the fans and myself. I didn’t enjoy watching that today. It felt like a real pre-season game. I think our changes in the second half definitely helped bringing more energy to the game. The young guys, Hendry, Wilson, Leyden and McDaid, along with Liam Lindsay, are part of the first team. I think the younger ones, the apprentices, did well and held their own which I was really happy about”Thistle now have a double header of home games against Wigan Athletic and Rotherham United and Alan is glad to be headedback to Firhill. “It’s good to be going back to Firhill and we’ve luckily got two home pre-season games this year. It’ll be good for the younger lads and the new signings to get used to their surroundings. We also get back on the big pitch and it’ll be two tough games but that’s why we took them. You want to lift the standard as you progress through pre-season.“Alan remains on the lookout for new signings, casting his eye over some trialists throughout the pre-season period. “We’ve brought in a number of trialists throughout the pre-season spell as we’re wanting to explore our options as we make sure we get the right signings in, not just ones for the sake of it.“