SPFL Development League
Wed 6 April, 2016. Kick Off: - 14:00
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie.
Thistle headed to the Excelsior Stadium to take on SFA Youth Cup finalists Motherwell as the Development League season for the 2015/16 campaign winds down to its conclusion.
The game began quietly with not much in the way of clear cut chances in the opening 15 minutes. Both teams, filled with young players, were trying to build passing moves from the back but pass selection was proving to be a bit difficult at times with each team’s disciplined approach denying much opportunity to cut each other open.
Motherwell won the game’s first corner after 17 minutes. The delivery was swung over, Ben Hall had a free header from six yards out but could only see his header loop over Conor Cullen before striking the cross bar. Falconer tried to scramble home the rebound with an acrobatic overhead kick, only succeeding in striking the side netting.
Chances were at a premium in the first half with McMullin doing well to blocking a Mackin effort, allowing Cullen to gather the bouncing ball. Docherty had the first sight of goal from a Thistle perspective but he blazed high into the empty stand with just over 30 minutes player.
In 36 minutes Thistle took the lead. A good passing move culminated in McCarthy playing in Nisbet wide of the penalty area. He picked out McLaughlin inside the area with a low cross and the young striker made no mistake to sweep home from six yards out. Cullen had a great save with his feet from a Hastie effort before Thistle headed in 1-0 up at half time.
Thistle started the second half brighter and Nisbet went close with an effort after 50 minutes as Thistle sought a second goal to kill off the Motherwell threat.
They almost got it from a corner kick when Lynch had a header blocked. McLaughlin fired the loose ball goalwards producing a great save from Long before Kevin Nisbet was crowded out by Motherwell defenders as he tried to tuck home the rebound.
With 30 minutes to go Motherwell turned up the tempo and Conor Cullen was having to produce save after save to keep Thistle in front. First he parried away from Moore’s long range effort before Moore blazed high over the bar from inside the six yard box. Cullen, again, had to get a vital touch on a cross to deny Motherwell attackers from nodding home from close range.
With 18 minutes remaining however, Motherwell did get level. An aimless free kick into the Thistle box tempted Cullen from his line. Dylan Mackin, however, was able to get a touch on the ball ahead of the young goalkeeper to nod the ball into the back of the net.
Motherwell had an appeal for a penalty turned down when Mackin went for a cross and appeared to be shoved off the ball. Moments later, the Lanarkshire side did get one. A free kick was sent into the box and referee Williams pointed to the spot. Nobody quite knew what it was for, with video evidence showing the lightest of shirt tugs by James Penrice being punished. Mackin made no mistake with the spot kick slamming it right down the middle.
Motherwell sat deep content to let Thistle come at them in the closing stages but only Matthew McInally came close to an equaliser with an injury time drive which bounced wide of goal.