Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division 1
Sat 6 October, 2012. Kick Off: - 15:00
Cappielow Park, Greenock.
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday October 6th 2012
Morton v Partick Thistle
Under 16’s £5
Under 12’s £3
Parent & Child £18
Under 5’s are free of charge
Thistle supporters on Saturday should enter the ground via the turnstiles in East Hamilton Street, and they will be accommodated in the Wee Dublin End although alternative arrangements will be put in place should the weather forecast change.
By Supporters Bus
Car parking is available adjacent to the ground.
Services from Glasgow stop just outside the park. There are also services from Port Glasgow and Gourock.
The nearest local station is Cartsdyke and is a five minute walk from the ground. There are two to three trains every hour from Glasgow and from Gourock.
Referee: Des Roache
Assistant Referees: Brian Templeton and Duncan Smith
Other First Division Fixtures
Airdrie United v Hamilton Academical
Falkirk v Dunfermline Athletic
Livingston v Cowdenbeath
Raith Rovers v Dumbarton
It was an afternoon of bitter disappointment for Thistle. Not only did Thistle lose their unbeaten record in the league but two late goals for Dunfermline in their fixture with Falkirk knocked Thistle off their perch at the top of the league.
Jackie McNamara had virtually a full squad to select from for this game but ultimately made just two changes to the side that had drawn 1-1 with Raith Rovers. New back to full fitness, Steven Craig returned to the team replacing Christie Eliiott while Ross Forbes made his first start in the Thistle midfield in a move that saw Aaron Sinclair drop to the bench.
Morton went into this fixture as arguably the division’s form team and they were obviously keen to close the gap of both Thistle and Dunfermline the two sides immediately above them in the league table. They started the game firmly on the front foot as well. Steven Stirling was able to side step a challenge from Alan Archibald and Scott Fox didn’t look entirely convincing with his save that prevented Morton from scoring an early goal.
Thistle though would play some excellent football throughout the first half and they were quick to threaten the Morton goal. Morton keeper Gaston had to look lively to prevent Steven Craig from marking his return from injury with a goal inside ten minutes. Craig too was far away from connecting with an Aaron Muirhead cross from the right.
It was Morton, however, that took the lead in the 14th minute. It was a poor goal from a Thistle perspective to lose. The threat from set pieces that Morton posed was well known but Rutkiewicz was still able to head home a Tidser corner from the right.
Thistle were close to an equaliser just four minutes after falling behind. Steven Craig’s cross from the left picked out Chris Erskine and it was through good fortune more than anything else that saw the ball fly straight into the arms of the Morton keeper.
A Thistle equaliser though was merely delayed two minutes. Steven Craig was able to gather a long throw from Aaron Muirhead and he was able to swivel before delivery a shot into the back of the net.
Having been a goal behind Thistle were desperately unfortunate to be ahead in the 22nd minute. Thistle won a free kick on the very edge of the Morton box and it took a fine stop from Gaston to turn Ross Forbes’ effort round the post for a corner kick.
The pace of this game was relentless and on the half hour mark Thistle nearly caught Morton with a swift counter attack. Chris Erskine was able to break clear down the left and after he squared the ball both Paul Paton and then Steven Craig saw well struck shots blocked by a Morton defender.
Another Forbes free kick picked out Craig at the back post but Morton were able to scramble clear his header back into the danger area as Thistle continued to press for a seconds goal.
It was the home side, however, that took the lead once more with a 39th minute goal. Again Thistle were negligent at a corner from the right hand side with this time Mark McLaughlin the player to head Tidser’s corner into the net.
Thistle may well have felt aggrieved to be behind at this stage and they were close to an equaliser as half-time approached. Chris Erskine was fouled just as he was about to cut inside the Morton box, a foul that surprisingly did see the offender, McLaughlin, receive the yellow card that seemed obvious; especially as Hugh Murray had earlier been booked for a not dissimilar offence. From a tight angle Ross Frobes saw his free kick that followed strike the outside of the post.
Ten minutes after the restart the game took a major turn in Morton’s direction. Already a goal behind, Thistle found themselves a man down as well as Hugh Murray was sent off after collecting a second yellow card following a challenge on Steven Stirling.
Despite the lack of numbers there was no lacking of fight from Thistle. In the 67th minute there were appeals for a Thistle penalty when a cross from Aaron Sinclair, who replaced Chris Erskine in the wake of Murray’s red card, bounced up and struck Morton defender McLaughlin. The decision of referee Roache not to award a penalty was one that would anger manager McNamara after the game.
Thistle sent on Kris Doolan and new loan signing Paul Slane as they continued to battle for a way back into the match. The two substitutes combined with Doolan stabbing the ball just wide of goal.
Slane too floated over a cross from the right that was just fractionally too high for both Kris Doolan and Steven Craig, with Aaron Sinclair unable to gather the loose ball inside the Morton box.
Aaron Muirhead sent a shot from 25 yards over the bar as the outcome of the game continued to hang in the balance as it entered the final ten minutes.
With Thistle pushing hard for an equaliser they were always in danger of being caught out and Archie Campbell really should have punished Thistle for some careless play at the back in the 85th minute. Campbell was left clean through but couldn’t get the ball round Scott Fox.
If that was an escape for Thistle there was no escape in the 86th minute when David O’Brien’s shot found the net to give Morton the breathing space of a two goal advantage.
It was a deflated Thistle squad at the end of yesterday’s 3-1 defeat, our first in the league this season, at Cappielow. There was no doubt what aspect of the defeat disappointed the manager the most when an angry and bitterly disappointed Jackie McNamara spoke with www.ptfc.co.uk after the game.
“I said to the lads before the game that the biggest threat from Morton would come from corners and set pieces and that we would need to defend them properly and make sure we won the second balls.”
The manager was angry too over a decision not to award his side a penalty in the second half with the game still very much in the balance.
“Over the piece I thought that we deserved more from the game. I felt that we should have had a penalty. I thought that it was a blatant penalty and everyone could see that it was a handball inside the box. As for the sending off, I’ll need to have another look at the second challenge to see whether it was worth a yellow card. The first yellow I didn’t think was a booking. I couldn’t understand how that was a yellow card but the foul on Chris Erskine wasn’t. That was much more of a goal threat than a foul just inside your own half was. I asked the referee about that at half-time and about the consistency of his decisions.”
Defeated Thistle may have been yesterday, but it was still a spirited display that wasn’t lacking in effort and determination.
“I said to the players after the game that I was delighted with the effort that they showed throughout the game. It’s not nice losing and it wasn’t nice losing in that type of game. The fans really stuck with us as well right to the end and they applauded the players for their effort at the end of the game. I was just hoping that we would be able to give them something for that support. We’ll just need to dust ourselves down and get on with things. We’ve a semi-final next Sunday to look forward to.”
The manager made a couple of changes from the previous week’s fixture with Ross Forbes and Steven Craig starting the game and the manager took a little time to assess their contribution to the game.
“I thought that Ross tired a little bit in the second half but otherwise did well. There’s a really fine line between losing and winning and that showed with two free kicks that he had. One that the keeper made a really good save from and one that hit the post. At the other end I don’t think that Scott Fox has had too much to do.”
“I thought in the first half Steven was excellent. The dynamics of the game changed in the second half following the sending off, but in the first half he caused the Morton defence all kinds of problems.”
There was also a Thistle debut for new loan signing Paul Slane.
“He’s obviously just come in and he’s getting his fitness sorted out. I want to have competition throughout the team and Paul’s arrival helps with that. It makes team selection difficult, but that’s the kind of problem that you want as a manager.”
For Sean Welsh, however, yesterday’s game came probably just a little too soon for his return as the manager explained.
“Sean just trained Thursday and Friday and he is a really important player for us and the decision not to include him today was a precaution as much as anything . With a full week’s training behind him he will be in contention for a place in the side next week.”
Focus now is now firmly on next Sunday’s Ramsdens Cup Semi-Final with Cowdenbeath with the manager acknowledging that certain aspects of the Thistle performance will need to improve if we are to reach our first Final in the competition.
“It’s a tight pitch at Central Park and we’ll face the same things there that we did today. We’ll need defend set pieces better, especially corners.”