SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sun 9 August, 2015. Kick Off: - 12:30
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
As Thistle look to get their home campaign kicked off on Sunday against the reigning Premiership champions, Alan Archibald is keen that his side don’t let the occasion get the better of them.
“It’s always a massive game when we play Celtic. They are the best team in the country and our city rivals so we always want to get one over on them. We never scored against them home or away last season, that was extremely disappointing and something we want to put right this term.”
Despite Celtic having had something of a midweek European adventure, Archibald is not expecting tired legs from the champions.
“I think maybe if they had lost then it would be different but after a result like that which puts them through, I think they’ll be coming here in buoyant mood and we shouldn’t be expecting anything but a full strength side. The important thing is that we keep things tight and don’t give away any cheap goals early doors. It’s also important that we keep 11 men on the park. Twice last season we had a player sent off and that obviously makes it much harder.
“Obviously everyone has Celtic as the favourites for the match but we’ll just use that as motivation to drive us on.”
The week brought with it rumours around Jack Hendry’s future as Everton are thought to be interested. Archie has certainly been impressed with the youngster.
“Yes Everton have watched him a couple of times and there is definitely interest. He certainly has potential, he’s big, has a good touch and can play the ball out from the back. We’ll need to wait and see though and he is firmly in our plans just now.”
Thistle’s new signing, Mathias Pogba, will be involved on Sunday but the gaffer is still unsure as to what his role will be.
“He will definitely be involved but whether he starts or not is something we are still assessing. He’s looked good in training but I think he’s still missing a bit of match fitness which is particularly important in a game like this.”
Other than the new boy Archie only has a couple of minor injury concerns to deal with.
“Dan Seaborne has been back training with us this week which is a big lift. He played a reserve game in the week and came through fine but he has obviously been out for a while now so we don’t want to rush him. David Amoo is a doubt with a hamstring strain and Elliott is struggling too. Other than that we should be at full strength.”
Thistle played their first home fixture of the 2015/16 Ladbrokes Premiership season on Sunday lunchtime as the BT Sport cameras came to Firhill.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side which came away from Hamilton with a valuable point the week before. Frederic Frans missed out as a consequence of his suspension incurred during the game and he was replaced by Jack Hendry, the young defender who impressed with his substitute appearance. David Wilson and Steven Lawless also came into the side which saw Kris Doolan and David Amoo drop to the bench.
Thistle have conceded early goals to Celtic in each of the last two meetings at Firhill and our Glasgow rivals were keen to grab another quick goal to show their dominance. Izaguirre fired over a cross from the left which Griffiths fired high over the bar.
Thistle found themselves temporarily down to ten men as Stevenson needed treatment for a head knock, with Commons close to taking advantage with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area. Celtic continued their dominance in the opening 30 minutes of the game with van Dijk smacking a fierce shot off the post from 35 yards with Cerny appearing beaten. The
When the opening goal did arrive there was a feeling of inevitability about it, but Celtic did enjoy a stroke of fortune with it as well. Gary Miller’s clearance was blocked by MacGregor, an early substitute for Armstrong, and the ball fell kindly for the young midfielder to advance to the edge of the box firing over a cross. Griffiths took a touch to control allowing Rogic to flick the ball into the corner of the net with the heel of his foot.
Thistle came back into the game and on the stroke of half time had loud shouts for a penalty. Wilson got on the end of a Miller cross and flicked it back towards the box striking the arm of Lustig. The referee appeared unmoved, and with Thistle having been on the end of similar penalty decisions last season, it will add to Alan Archibald’s frustration with refereeing consistency.
Thistle made a bright start to the second half with Lawless close to getting onto the end of Wilson’s through ball before Thistle fans got their first glimpse of new signing Mathias Pogba who looked lively and made himself a physical presence in the final third of the pitch.
Celtic grabbed a decisive second goal shortly after the hour mark, when Callum Booth failed to deal with a routine long ball and Commons chipped the ball over Cerny into the unguarded net.
The pace of the game calmed for a while after the killer second goal although David Amoo did his best to liven proceedings with a cross to Pogba being unlucky to go marginally wide of goal.
Thistle were unable to get a goal back and fell to a defeat where the gulf in class between the sides was evident. Thistle will look to put it behind them and focus on the long trip to Inverness on Wednesday night.
It was difficult for Alan Archibald to hide his disappointment as
he spoke to ptfc.co.uk after today’s game against Celtic. His
side fell to a 2-0 defeat but didn’t threaten their Glasgow rivals
nearly as much as Archibald would have liked.
“We didn’t get the service or possession that I thought we
needed today. You’re playing against the top team in the league
and I thought we gave them far too much respect. When we got the boys in at half time that’s what we focussed on, we just wanted them to go out there and play the way we know they can.
“We never forced Celtic out of second or third gear today and
that’s the most frustrating thing. We know we have what it
takes to hurt the best teams in this division but we certainly didn’t show it today.”
The first half had a tinge of controversy when, what looked like
a stone wall penalty shout, was denied as Lustig appeared to
handle the ball after David Wilson flicked on a deep cross from
“I think it’s a difficult one for the refs. There is maybe an
argument that things should be made easier for the officials as
there are too many grey areas at the moment. I’m of the
opinion that a hand ball is a hand ball and that’s that. You’ve
definitely seen those give and I think we were probably a bit
“The biggest disappointment for me was that our best passers of the ball didn
’t keep possession. We gave the ball away far too easily and you can’t do that against any team in this league – especially not Celtic.
“During the last 10 minutes of the first half and in patches after
the break we got at them a bit but it was too little too
late and we’ll need to pick ourselves up and go again in our game against
Inverness on Wednesday.”