SPFL Development League
Tue 12 January, 2016. Kick Off: - 18:00
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie.
Thistle made the first trip of 2016 to Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium looking to string back to back wins together fro the first time since November. In their way stood a Hibernian side who Thistle performed well against earlier this season, recording a 4-2 win. Little did the small crowd at Airdrie know, they would be in for an eight goal thriller.
MacKenzie made one change from the side which started against Falkirk with match-winner Neil McLaughlin brought into the starting line up ahead of Christie Elliott, struggling through illness.
The game started confidently enough from a Thistle perspective as Lamont crossed from the right before Docherty smashed an effort off the post inside the opening couple of minutes. Docherty showed good skill a few minutes later when he evaded a couple of challenges before firing an effort straight at the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper threw the ball out and Hibernian ran up the length of the park. They had the ball wide on the right, which was cut back to Olly Shaw who swept the ball home from around six yards out.
The goal gave Hibernian confidence and they sprayed the ball about with ease deep inside the Thistle half, but not troubling Marc Waters in the Thistle goal with any real efforts of intent on goal. With 22 minutes on the clock, they doubled their lead in a replica of the first goal. This time it was Boyle who got to the touchline to cut back for Shaw who repeated his previous finish to double the lead for the Edinburgh side.
The first half fizzled out with plenty of efforts on goal, but no real saves made by either goalkeeper. Duggan came closest for Thistle when his effort was blocked in the box. As McInally spread the ball into the box, the referee called proceedings to a halt to allow the stricken Hibernian player some treatment on his leg.
Thistle knew they would be back in the game if they could grab the games third goal, but that honour went to Hibernian as Olly Shaw completed his hat-trick. Thistle conceded a soft penalty with Penrice and Boyle coming together, with the Hibernian player falling under the slightest of touches. Shaw grabbed responsibility and sent Waters the wrong way to make it 3-0 to Hibernian.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Thistle grabbed a goal back through Dominic Docherty. Hibernian had a corner which was cleared to the half way line. McLaughlin flicked the ball away from the defender as Thistle broke with purpose. Lamont spread the ball wide to Duggan who had a low cross deflected in the box. Thankfully it remained on course to find Dominic Docherty who fired home a powerful effort.
Just as Thistle were getting belief they conceded yet another goal. A Hibernian shot was well blocked by a Thistle defender but, just like the first team recently at Celtic Park, the ball fell plum for Hibernian’s in-form striker as Shaw grabbed his fourth of the night.
Thistle rallied and kept creating chances to get back into the game. Dominic Docherty was bundled over inside the box, and Thistle had a penalty. With Kevin Nisbet, who missed a spot kick at Falkirk last week, on the bench, Docherty took control of duties and fired a spot kick high into the net, sending Brennan the wrong way.
Thistle were confident and what followed was an onslaught of possession as they tried to find the third which would get them back into the fixture. The received it with 11 minutes remaining when the ball fell for Lamont on the edge of the box, his right footed effort clipped the pot on the way in and there was belief amongst the group that Thistle would go on to level the contest.
With Thistle pushing forward, it was leaving gaps at the back and Hibernian were able to push forward into the space allowing substitute, Jack Breen to fire an effort into the far corner of the Waters goal from around 20 yards.
There were chances to add to the scoreline in the remaining minutes, McLaughlin firing straight at the goalkeeper, despite having options inside the box, before a McCarthy half volley sailed over the cross bar. Scot Whiteside, too, had to be at his best to block a Hibernian effort to make it six before referee Mike Taylor decided enough was enough to conclude an entertaining game in Airdrie with Hibernian running out winners by five goals to three.
Next up for the Development Squad is a trip to Hamilton on 26th January 2016. Kick off at New Douglas Park is 6pm.