SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 29 August, 2015. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
Thistle face yet another tough game as Aberdeen turn up to Firhill with a daunting 100% record. Manager, Alan Archibald, spoke to ptfc.co.uk to give his thoughts on this weekend’s encounter.
“We’re not on a great run, so a fixture against Aberdeen isn’t the first one you are looking for. It’s a good game to have as the players need less motivation to perform. They’ll go out and enjoy it against the team that finished second top in the country last season. We did alright against them in April and we’ll need a similar type of performance tomorrow.
“We don’t have a great record against Aberdeen, winning only one of the six games against them since we returned to the Premiership. We’ve had a couple of poor performances against them and we will have to be good on our day and play better than we have recently. We need to start well and maintain a high tempo.”
While Alan knows the danger posed by the Dons, he is keen his side stamp their impact on the game.
“We’ll give them the respect they deserve, they are a very good team, but we’ll have a plan to play them and hopefully get the three points. They’ve brought in two captains from other teams and they both have great strengths, but I’m only concerned about Partick Thistle. We need to go out there, keep the ball well and use our creative players to get at their defence.
“Our performances have been inconsistent but our team selections have been inconsistent recently too. Tomorrow is a chance to put an end to that. We will be looking to exploit their weaknesses, as well as keeping our own goal intact, especially early on. If we concede an early goal then it could be a long afternoon for the boys.”
Alan is still hopeful of adding more players to his squad and hopes the closure of the transfer window may open some opportunities.
“We’re still looking for more additions to the squad and we’re hoping that the conclusion of the window will allow us to bring players in quickly. We picked up Frederic Frans after the window closed last season so there is always quality available. We’ll be looking to get good players to enhance our squad, whether that is on loan or as permanent Partick Thistle players.”
Alan has almost a full squad to pick from for the game against Aberdeen giving him a selection headache for good reasons for once.
“With the exception of Christie Elliott, everyone has been training this week. Stuart Bannigan is available again having sat out the Falkirk match with suspension. Sean was rested to give his toe time to heal and Mathias came through his 45 minutes unscathed. We’ll have almost a full squad to pick from and that gives me options as to how we approach the game tomorrow.”
Thistle entertained Aberdeen in the latest round of the Ladbrokes Premiership still looking for the coveted first win of the new season. Their opponents, however, were enjoying a 100% record near the top of the league and were flying high having kept six clean sheets in seven meetings between the sides since Thistle returned to top flight action in 2013.
Alan Archibald made six changes to the team which crashed out the League Cup to Falkirk, as he looked to get an improved performance from his side. There was a big change in the defence as Frederic Frans and Liam Lindsay returned to the centre of defence in play of Dan Seaborne and Jack Hendry. Declan McDaid, who impressed in his cameo appearance against Hearts last week, earned his first start at the expense of David Amoo while injury denied the manager of Gary Fraser’s services. Mathias Pogba came into the striking role at the expense of Doolan as Archibald looked to shake things up against a tough Aberdeen defence.
Aberdeen started the game in dominant fashion not allowing Thistle any cheap early possession but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the opening stages of the game. Aberdeen won a couple of early free kicks wide on the pitch but Thistle dealt with these comfortably enough as Aberdeen sought to use their aerial advantage to gain the lead.
Thistle’s first real foray up the pitch resulted in a corner as Miller tried to whip in a cross from the right hand side. Bannigan’s corner was comfortably gathered by Ward right on his goal line.
Aberdeen were dominating possession but neither goalkeeper was being significantly tested as the sides emerged into a deadlock. Aberdeen did have the ball in the back of the net when Taylor nodded down a corner with Goodwillie tapping the loose ball into the back of the net. Referee, Finnie, had already blown for a foul and the goal was chalked off.
Thistle were forced into a substitution before half time when Frederic Frans went off with a hamstring strain, with Jack Hendry replacing the Belgian defender. Pogba was starting to be dominant in his battles with the Aberdeen defence and from one of his flicks he spun towards the box, seemingly manhandled to the ground but the referee waved play on.
Thistle started the second half brightly and Welsh forced a fingertip save from Danny Ward before Liam Lindsay fired narrowly wide from the resulting corner.
Just as Thistle were looking to become a more assertive force in the game they fell behind in controversial circumstances. Logan took a throw in to McLean, who had gone free from his markers. His powerful drive was met by Rooney at the back post, who controlled the ball with his hand before slotting the ball into the net. Thistle were furious at the goal being allowed and showed their protestations towards referee Finnie who was unmoved.
Thistle were stunned by the concession of a goal and were lucky not to fall two goals behind a couple of minutes later when Rooney fired a shot narrowly over the bar having found space inside the box. Liam Lindsay had a couple of chances from corners before Kenny McLean put the game beyond doubt.
Thistle failed to clear their lines and Hayes forced Cerny into a cracking save. McLean was alert at the back post to bundle home the loose ball and give Aberdeen a two goal cushion.
Thistle huffed and puffed, trying to get their way back into the game against a stubborn Aberdeen defence but had a chance through Booth when he found himself in space inside the box, but Ward was more than equal to his shot.
Jack Hendry came closest to getting a consolation for Thistle when he headed Stevenson’s free kick across goal, but no Thistle player was able to touch the bouncing ball into the back of the net.
McGinn has a chance to extend Aberdeen’s lead at the death, but it was to be just the two goals as Aberdeen extended their winning run, while Thistle have to wait until after the international break to record that elusive first win of the season.
Having seen his Thistle side go down 2-0 to an industrious Aberdeen side there was only one talking point post patch for Alan Archibald as he spoke to ptfc.co.uk. In the build up to Aberdeen’s opener, goalscorer, Adam Rooney, appeared to clearly handle the ball but Jags’ protests fell on deaf ears.
“The goal took the wind out of our sails a bit and I think the ref has to give a hand ball. I feel for them a little bit because I know it’s a bit of a grey area but where it leads to a goal like that I think he simply has to give it as a free kick.
“It proved to be a pivotal point in the game as well. I thought we came out for the second half and looked really bright,as if we could go out and hurt them. The decision and the goal killed us in that respect.”
The result means Archie’s wait for his first win of the season will be extended over the international break but he is determined to take the positives from the display.
“We’ll move on from it and the performance was much improved from the mach against Falkirk. We’ll go away and analyse the performance to take the positives out of it and build on those over the international break.
“I thought there wasn’t a lot in it in the first half and our keeper never really had a save to make. We made a couple of really good chances and that was good to see. You need to take the chances when they come along – especially against a team like Aberdeen.
“I am encouraged by what I saw today though and we will look to build on that and take it into the next game. Even when we were 2-0 down we were still looking to get forward and create chances.”
Frederic Frans was substituted after 40 minutes as he pulled up with a hamstring strain and he wasn’t the only one struggling by the conclusion of the match.
“Yes, Freddie has just strained his hamstring a bit, he’s with the medical team now who will assess him and we’ll take it from there. The positive is that it has come at a good time with the break so we’ll just need to wait and see. Gary Miller played through a strain in his hamstring too so we’ll need to let him rest and see how he is next week.”