SPFL Development League
Tue 8 September, 2015. Kick Off: - 19:00
Ainslie Park Stadium, Edinburgh.
Thistle travelled to Edinburgh to face Hibernian in their latest Development League fixture, high in confidence after a well deserved 2-1 victory over Falkirk, seven days earlier. Thistle failed to beat Hibernian in either of their Development League fixtures last season and each of their two trips to Ainslie Park(playing Spartans in the Youth Cup) resulted in the side shipping four goals.
It was a youthful squad which travelled east, suffering a disrupted journey to Edinburgh due to built up traffic from the Foo Fighters gig at Murrayfield. Thistle had a bench that consisted fully of Weir Academy players with Alex Lynn being handed his first start at Development League level.
Hibs started the brighter and were keen to impose their physicality on the youthful Jags. After an opening five minutes where both sides passed the ball around comfortably at the back, Hibs took the lead with the games first attack.
Thistle conceded a free kick around 40 yards from goal, with Hibs electing to take it short and quick. After a couple of passes, the ball ended up at the feet of Watson who fired a powerful shot towards goal. Waters got a strong hand on the ball but was helpless as he watched the ball spin into his back post.
Thistle continued to have a sluggish start to the game but found themselves level in fortunate circumstances. The ball was worked out to James Penrice on the left hand side. With bodies in the box he fired over an excellent cross from 30 yards, which got carried slightly in the wind and into the back of the net.
Thistle were visibly buoyed this goal and passed the ball around with the swagger accustomed to the development squad; intricate one touch football probing for the oppprtunity. The half ended level with both sides having chances, Hibs striking the frame of Marc Waters goal twice in the closing stages, the first prompting claims of a goal as the ball bounced onto the goalline, but the linesman was unmoved.
The start of the second half began much like the first with Hibs trying to exert their dominance on the game. Thistle held resolute, defending in numbers to crowd out Hibs’ more dangerous threats before the game flipped on its head in a manner of 64 seconds.
Thistle won a corner, which Penrice flighted perfectly into the box. Michael McMullin rose highest to powerfully send Thistle into the lead. Another rampaging move led to a third goal. Mark Lamont was sent scampering down the right hand side and he fired over a cross to the waiting Kevin Nisbet. The ball didn’t even reach him as Ben Stirling, a Hibernian defender, got his head on the ball first and diverted it past a despairing Reguero.
Thistle were strutting the ball around confidently and were, at times, guilty of overplaying it and getting themselves into a couple of tight spots. Despite this, the advantage was extended to three goals. Leyden went on a lengthy run into the box and his cut back was met by McInally who fired expertly past the goalkeeper. It capped a superb game for the right back but, in truth, Thistle were queuing up for the ball in the box.
There was a minor scare for Thistle as a cross fell nicely to Dunsmore who grabbed a consolation for Hibernian with a little over 10 minutes remaining. Thistle introduced Connor Higgins for his Development League debut and he looked lively up front in his cameo as MacKenzie’s side held out pretty comfortably.
The performance will have pleased Development coach Scott MacKenzie but he will be frustrated that his side will not be able to capitalise on the momentum gained as his side aren’t in action for the next two midweeks. The side are in action next Sunday 20th September in Youth Cup action against Motherwell before returning to the Development League on 29th September with a home game against Hamilton Accies.
Thistle Team: Waters, McInally, Penrice, Trialist, McMullin, Leyden, Lamont, Docherty, Nisbet(Higgins 76), Lynn, McLaughlin.