SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 1 November, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
New Douglas Park
After the massive disappointment of Wednesday night the Jags are looking to bounce straight back with a win against high flyers Hamilton. Archie knows it won’t be an easy task but is certain that, if his player play to the best of their ability, they are more than capable of coming away with the win.
“It is very important that the players take Saturday as an opportunity to move on from Wednesday. We had to address it and we did that on Thursday. We looked at the video and talked about what went wrong but, as soon as we finished with that, we made it clear to the players that we needed to move on and that is how it will be come Saturday.
“Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t trying to forget about it or brush it under the carpet. We were extremely disappointed with the result and, more importantly, the performance on Wednesday. As a group we let down the terrific fans that came to support us and we need to start paying them back come Saturday. It’s times like this that the team needs to show a bit of character and bounce back, I know they’ve got it in them so will be expecting to see it come kick off on Saturday.
Last time we played Hamilton we lost two very late goals and ended up with nothing. However, the positives to take from that were that, until the last five minutes, we had matched them and played well, something Archibald knows his team is capable of again.
“Since we played them Hamilton have been outstanding – you really have to take your hats off to them. I think the key to getting a result against them is working as hard as them and that’s no mean feat. They are an incredibly hard working side and that is where a lot of their results so far this season have come from.
“They have been full of confidence recently but, at the same time, they’ve had a couple of results not quite go their way in the last couple of weeks. We’ve looked at how other teams have got some joy against them and we’ll be using that to our advantage to try and get a positive result against them on Saturday.
“There’s no doubt it will be a tough game but we just have to concentrate on our own play and stick together as a team. If we look out for each other and play together as a unit like we know we can, there’s no doubt we can get some joy against them.
Kallum Higginbotham made an appearance against Celtic and will be in the squad come Saturday. Alan gave us an idea of how Kallum and the rest of the squad were shaping up.
“Higginbotham obviously got 20 minutes on Wednesday and will be in the squad for Saturday. We’ll assess him on Saturday morning and judge from there exactly what role he will play. We picked up a couple of knocks on Wednesday as well, Elliott and O’Donnell are both struggling, so we’ll see how they are before the game.”
Stuart Bannigan will also be available to the manager for selection as a result of the club challenging the red card that he picked up in Wednesday night’s game.
On the back of a forgetful night at Celtic Park it was back to league business for Thistle with a trip to New Douglas Park to face a high flying Accies side who had made an impressive start to their first season back in the top flight.
Archibald made changes to the side with Kris Doolan and Jake Carroll coming back into the starting line-up replacing Nathan Eccleston and the injured Stephen O’Donnell with Jordan McMillan moving to right back. Stuart Bannigan was able to take his place in the starting line-up after an appeal was launched against his red card from the League Cup game. On the bench, Gary Fraser, and club captain, Sean Welsh, joined Kallum Higginbotham to give the subs bench a very strong look to it.
Christie Elliott was the first to threaten in the early minutes after he cut inside but saw his shot blocked, shortly after that Antione-Curier saw a speculative effort from distance fly well wide. There was a chance for Thistle to take the lead when Canning was short with a headed back pass which Doolan got on the end of, rounding McGovern while Doolan was forced wide and the home defence cleared for a corner.
After a scrappy opening Accies took the lead in the 23rd minute. Thistle lost possession inside the Accies half and, with nobody pressing the ball, it took only two passes to allow McKinnon to fire low past Fox from the edge of the box. Worse was to follow just 71 seconds later when Redmond fired home to make it 2-0. On the back of a heavy defeat to Celtic on the Wednesday night this was not the best of starts, but there is a gritty and determined character to this team and so it proved as the half progressed.
Kris Doolan used his strength in a challenge for a high ball with Garcia-Tena and the ball broke to the onrushing Jordan McMillan whose half volley into the ground took a slight deflection on its way into the back of the net to make it 2-1 with 33 minutes gone. Elliott then went through behind the defence but dithered too long on the ball before a poor touch allowed the home side to clear. Bannigan curled a shot just wide as the half time whistle blew with Hamilton leading 2-1.
Bannigan again saw an effort blocked after good work by Doolan before Crawford tried his luck from 20 yards after the Jags defence failed to clear properly. The game became quite niggly with Canning, Carroll and McMillan all going into the book in a short period of time. Andreu then tested Fox from 25 yards and Crawford saw his effort saved by Fox as the home side pressed for a killer third goal.
But on 67 minutes, Thistle were level. Dan Seaborne was off the pitch receiving treatment when Lawless collected the ball before slipping in Craigen who calmly stroked the ball past McGovern to make it 2-2. Better was to come from Thistle who now had their tails up, Lawless lofted a lovely pass over the top and behind the home sides defence and Elliott let the ball bounce once before firing past McGovern and sparking wild celebrations in the away end.
Club captain, Sean Welsh, made his long awaited comeback replacing Carroll with Bannigan moving to left back. There were loud and vociferous appeals from the Jags players and support for a penalty after the ball appeared to strike Hendrie’s hand inside the box but nothing was given, much to the disgust of the away support in particular. Kallum Higginbotham who had replaced Doolan earlier in the half was unlucky to see the flag raised as Thistle looked to attack, the decision being very marginal.
The Jags were doing the right thing in trying to play possession deep inside the home side’s half and pegging them back as the game moved all too slowly towards a close. Unfortunately, as has been the case in a number of games so far this season disaster would strike.
With just four seconds of injury time left, a long ball found Andreu 25 well outside the box, he controlled the ball with his back to goal and spun and fired a low shot past Fox to break Thistle hearts and make the final score 3-3. A great comeback from the Jags but ultimately heartbreak at the end.
It was a real roller coaster for the Jags on Saturday as the team lost two first half goals in a matter of seconds only to score three of their own to be leading the game with less than a minute to go until a last minute Andreu ensured the points were shared in the end.
Ptfc.co.uk caught up with Thistle boss, Alan Archibald, to see how things looked from the dug out and get his thoughts on a nerve-shredding 90 minutes.
“It’s obviously disappointing to concede so late on and go from winning the game to only getting a point – it feels like a defeat. It happened earlier on in the season but today was worse. To come back from two goals down like that, go ahead and not come away with all three points is very disappointing.
“We said to them at half time that they could go out there and have a go and they’ve certainly done that. We dominated the second half and didn’t let them get too much time on the ball, that combined with our work rate was what got us back into that game.”
Kallum Higginbotham and Sean Welsh both made a welcome return from injury for Thistle and made a difference to the game when they came on.
“We made a couple of changes in the second half and took Dools off because we didn’t feel he was getting a lot of protection from the referee. We decided to change it and play a slightly different system with Kallum Higginbotham up top. He has done it a number of times before in training and he can be a real handful, as it happens it did seem to have an impact on the game and we got the two goals shortly after that.”
The Jags had a strong shout for a first half penalty when Kris Doolan was caught by the Accies keeper. Doolan stayed on his feet though and couldn’t reach the ball to convert the opportunity.
“I think Doolan is too honest in the first half. It looks like the keeper catches him and, if he goes down, it’s probably a penalty. He thought he was getting on the end of it but couldn’t quite reach it, five minutes later we’re two down.
“I always believed we could come back but, after having lost 6-0 at Parkhead the other night, you do worry about the lads’ confidence. We might have gone 2-0 down but I certainly don’t think we deserved that at the time. Their first two shots on target have gone in but it was a pretty even match up until then and the lads have showed great character to get themselves back into it.”
Archie dismissed any thought of the team being happy with a point or having taken a draw before the game.
“It’s a sore one to take at the moment and difficult to see the positives but it was always going to be a tough game and we certainly played well for large chunks today. One of those positives is the fact that we got a good response after a terrible game the other night and came from two nil down to be leading the match. The fact that we showed that character is very encouraging and we’ll be taking that into the next game against St Mirren.”