Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division 1
Sat 25 August, 2012. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
Tomorrow afternoon Thistle have the opportunity to equal a small piece of Club history by recording their sixth straight victory at the start of a season. Only once previously, in season 1975-1976, has a Thistle side begun a season with six successive victories.
There is a feeling of optimism inside the Firhill camp at present but there isn’t a single person that believes that tomorrow’s game with Dumbarton will be anything other than very difficult. Manager Jackie McNamara was certainly anticipating a tough game when he spoke with [link:HOME]
“Dumbarton had a good season last season winning promotion from the Second Division, and they did well in the play-off matches. I was impressed with them in the games I saw them play last season and make no mistake about it; tomorrow’s game is going to be a very difficult one for us. It is important that we get at it right from the start and try to keep the momentum from our good start going.”
“Tomorrow’s game presents a different type of challenge from our two previous league games. There is a growing sense of expectation following our good start to the season and with that comes a little extra pressure, though to be fair there is always pressure. Last season when we were expected to win we really struggled, especially in cup ties. I think though that there is a different kind of mind set in the squad this season. It’s more a team, rather than a collection of individuals. If we go about this game in a similar manner to the last two league games then there is every chance that we can maintain our good start to the season.”
Jackie is hoping that the Thistle fans, just as they did in the Falkirk game a fortnight ago, again play their part tomorrow.
“There really was a fantastic atmosphere inside Firhill at our last game with Falkirk. The noise that the Thistle fans created that afternoon was incredible. So much so that they were virtually a 12th man for us and I’m hoping for a repeat of that on Saturday.”
The manager is in a happy position of having virtually a full squad to select from tomorrow.
“With things going well everyone is desperate to play at the moment and that is very pleasing. A perfect example of that desire to play can be found in Sean Welsh last weekend. Last Friday Sean, with his eye closed over, had absolutely no chance of playing the following day. But he made it clear that he didn’t want to miss the game. With competition for places nobody wants to miss a game in case they can’t back in the side. With that in mind it is hard not to feel a bit of sympathy for Aaron Sinclair. It’s through no fault of his own, and no reflection on his ability, that he isn’t playing. It’s all down to the form of young Stuart Bannigan who has been doing exceptionally well. Stuart can play in a number of positions but I like the balance of the team with Stuart playing in his present position. I though the balance of the team last week at Dunfermline was pretty much spot on. “
Steven Lawless was ill at the start of the week but he should be absolutely fine to play on Saturday. That means, touch wood, that only David Rowson should be missing. It’s a really frustrating time for David who hasn’t returned to training yet. He was set to return last week but suffered another back spasm. We really need to get to the bottom of David’s problems and hopefully it won’t be too long before we do start to see signs of improvement. One of the most frustrating things is that he will need to go through almost a mini pre-season when he does return from injury.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Season 2012-2013 So Far
W D L F A
5 0 0 12 5
Scorers Season 2012-2013
Kris Doolan 3
Chris Erskine 3
Steven Lawless 3
Stuart Bannigan 1
Christie Elliott 1
Aaron Sinclair 1
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday August 18th 2012
Dunfermline Athletic 0, Partick Thistle 1
Season 2012-02013 So Far
W D L F A
1 0 3 3 8
Scorers season 2012-2013
Jim Lister 2
Bryan Prunty 1
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday August 18th 2012
Dumbarton 0, Cowdenbeath 3
Scottish League Second Division
Saturday April 29th 2006
Dumbarton 2, Partick Thistle 3
Dumbarton: Grindlay, Winter, McQuilken (Ferry), Gaughan, Smith, Walker (Dillon), Borris, Connell, Boyle, Rodgers, Gemmell.
Thistle: Arthur, Murray, McCulloch, Brady, Smyth, Craig, J Gibson, B Gibson, Strachan (Nicholas), McConalogue, Roberts.
Dumbarton: Rodgers (40 and 41)
Thistle: McConalogue (55 and 87), Roberts (69)
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday August 25th 2012
Partick Thistle v Dumbarton
OAP (65+): £12
Full Time Education: £12
Referee: Stephen Finnie
Assistant Referees: Brian Templeton and Scott Love
Other First Division Fixtures
Cowdenbeath v Hamilton Accies
Morton v Falkirk
Raith Rovers v Livingston
Airdrie United v Dunfermline Athletic
Victory this afternoon over Dumbarton took Thistle to the top of the First Division.
With Thistle looking to record a sixth successive victory it was hardly any great surprise that Jackie McNamara selected the same side, right down to the choice of the five substitutes, that defeated Dunfermline seven days earlier.
Thistle made a whirlwind start against Falkirk in the previous home league game but there was no repeat against a Dumbarton side that had lost 7 goals in losing their first two league games. Indeed Dumbarton came close to taking an unexpected tenth minute lead. Scott Fox came a long way out his goal to clear a through ball and his clearance was seized upon by Dumbarton’s Steven McDougall. With Fox still out his goal, McDougall tried to find the net from fully 40 yards out and he wasn’t too far off target either, his effort taking a deflection on the way past the post.
Thistle though were starting to take a grip on proceedings by this stage. An excellent Paul Paton cross found no takers and Stephen O’Donnell tested Stephen Grindlay with a low drive after he had collected a Paul Paton pass.
The opening goal that Thistle were threatening arrived in the 15th minute. Stuart Bannigan crossed from the left and Kris Doolan threw himself at the ball to connect with Bannigan’s cross and his header flew into the back of the net.
Dumbarton at this stage were struggling to contain Thistle and Doolan was close to a second goal in the 24th minute. A Paul Paton cross was touched back into Doolan’s path and his shot took a touch off a Dumbarton player as it crept wide of goal. The corner that followed was cleared only as far as Stephen O’Donnell who was lurking some 30 yards from goal and he too saw a shot take a touch off a Dumbarton player as it went just wide of goal.
There had been a couple of moments from the visitors and Dumbarton would have been level in the 32nd minute had Scott Fox not made a magnificent save from point blank range to keep out a Jim Lister header. There was an opportunity too for Dumbarton from the subsequent corner and Andy Graham probably should have done better than lift his shot over the bar from 10 yards out.
A second Thistle goal would though have probably have given the score line a more accurate reflection on the passage of play as half-time approached and a wonderful flowing move from Thistle, starting right at the back, nearly produced that second goal. Stephen O’Donnell did well to set up Chris Erskine. Erskine looked certain to score but he was denied a goal by a fantastic goal line clearance thus restricting Thistle to a one goal advantage at the interval.
While that advantage remained at just a solitary goal there was a nervousness about Thistle’s play. Passing moves were starting to break down while Dumbarton remained a threat on the break. There was a greatr sense of relief, therefore, when Thistle found a second goal in the 62nd minute. Paul Paton, who was central to everything Thistle did during the 90 minutes, burst into the box and his cross was steered home by Chris Erskine.
Seven minutes later the points were all but secured. Thistle were able to open up the Dumbarton defence down the left hand side and when Chris Erskine set up Stuart Bannigan he made no mistake.
With the points safe Jackie McNamara utilised all three of his permitted substitutes and one of them, Christie Elliott, was close to a fourth Thistle goal but Grindlay was able to spread himself and save after Elliott had managed to get in behind the Dumbarton defence.
Grindlay saved too from James Craigen as Thistle started to coast towards victory. Stephen O’Donnell was voted the sponsor’s man of the Match and he nearly capped an impressive display with a goal in the 87th minute but Grindlay got just enough of a touch to O’Donnell’s shot to keep the ball out.
Thistle this afternoon recorded their sixth straight victory, their third in the league this season, and climbed to the top of the First Division. There is, obviously, an awful lot of football to be played this season but when asked about managing the expectations of an increasingly optimistic Thistle support manager Jackie McNamara just expressed his delight at having recorded another victory and at having kept the fans happy.
“I’m glad that the fans are happy that things are going well. We want to keep that going; we have a massive game on Tuesday night which is really important to us. We had disappointments last season in the cup competitions and we want to improve upon that this season.”
“I think we are carrying on from pre-season. There is a real hunger among the players to stay in the team. The players that came on during the course of today’s game were all trying to stake a claim for a place in the side and there is a real healthy competition for places in the side at the moment which we didn’t have last season.”
“It was a pleasing result today as that was a game that last season we would probably have drawn. We had plenty of chances during the first half. Scott Fox has made a great save at 1-o but by that time we could have been three or four up. Credit to the boys though they kept going and although we started off the second half a bit sticky the second goal when it came was a big relief to us.”
The manager was happy at the quality of some of the football that his team produced.
“I think that the movement that we showed at the first goal was first class; it started out in the left back area. Paul Paton hit an excellent diagonal ball and it was fantastic cross from young Stuart Bannigan; and Kris Doolan has done really well to get across the face and make contact with it. I think if Chris Erskine had scored that goal not long after that then we would have been talking about that goal for a long time. Again that started in the left back area; we worked the ball well and Stephen O’Donnell did brilliantly to set up Chris Erskine and I would just liked to have seen the ball hit the back of the net at that point.”
“I’m happy with the start that we have made to the season, but it’s like anything we need to keep it going. I told the players that there was no point if beating Falkirk and Dunfermline if we didn’t take the advantage of playing at home today. It was a big test for us today and we came through it well. We had some good passing sequences and I thought that we thoroughly deserved the victory.”
Today’s game was the type of match that Thistle have previously struggled in, a fact that the manager was quick to seize upon.
“I think since I’ve been at the Club, as a player first of all, we’ve struggled against teams that have just come up a division and are part-time. We’ve overcome a couple of these kind of games in the cups and today was the first that we have faced in the league and we overcame that particular barrier well. It’s now just a case of looking forward to Tuesday’s game with Hamilton.”
And the reason for the improvement?
“I think that there are a number of things. The players that we have brought in over the summer have all added to the squad. Hugh Murray has added experience while Steven Lawless fits in well to the style that we play. It is important though that we don’t get carried away; it is just the start of the season.”
Dumbarton manager Alan Adamson was far from despondent at his side’s display.
“I think that’s the best that we’ve played this season. All credit to Thistle; they got the ball down and passed it and I think we tried to do the same. I think it was a good game of football to watch. I’ve told my players to keep their heads up as they’ll not be playing a team as sharp as that every week. There are signs that we are heading in the right direction.”
“At 1-0 we had a couple of chances. You can forget the last 20 minutes as once a team goes 3-0 up it becomes easy to start knocking the ball about; we could do that. For 70 minutes I thought that we competed really well and gave a good account of ourselves. The players gave everything they had and competed well.”
The Dumbarton manager sited one incident in the first half, Scott Fox producing a point blank save top deny Lister a goal, with the score at 1-0 as a turning point.
“It was a good save by the guy which is what he is there for. After the first 15 minutes or so I thought that we settled in well and started to pass the ball well and get forward. Second goal was a bit of a killer. Thistle are a slick team and they pass the ball well and I’ve no doubts that they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.”