SPFL Ladbrokes Championship
Sat 12 January, 2019. Kick Off: - 15:00
The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill
With five new signings involved, Partick Thistle drew 1-1 with Dundee United last Saturday with the first half performance particularly impressive and one of the best of the season so far. However, despite the strong start and admirable point, results elsewhere meant the Jags dropped to the bottom of the Championship.
Nevertheless, Thistle have an immediate opportunity to get off the foot of the table as they take on the team in ninth spot, Falkirk, tomorrow. Jags boss, Gary Caldwell, spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of the fixture.
Gary began by reflecting on last weekend’s draw in Dundee and discussing how his side can carry over the things they did right into this weekend’s fixture.
“There was plenty to be happy with from that game, especially the first half. There was attacking intent and energy to match it which meant they had to rely on their ‘keeper to keep them in the match. We didn’t let them breathe for the first 45 minutes.
“However, we didn’t keep that up in the second half which is disappointing. I think we showed good character to stay strong after their first goal and ensure that we did get our point. We need to show that again this week.
“At the end of the day, a point at Tannadice is a good point, but it means nothing if we don’t go and build on it with a better result this week.”
The Jags boss then looked back on Thistle’s last meeting with Falkirk, which came back in November, the match finishing 1-1.
“That game was one that we definitely controlled, like we have in a few games since I’ve been here, but in that game we created nowhere near enough in front of goal. We did manage to get in front but it was only for a minute which was very frustrating because Falkirk didn’t really open us up regularly that day.”
Saturday’s opposition have been very active in the transfer market with the Bairns signing a plethora of players including the likes of Paul Dixon and Ian McShane. Despite the new faces, Caldwell insists that his squad will be prepared for whatever team Ray McKinnon puts out.
“It does make it a bit more difficult. We obviously don’t know exactly how he’s going to set them up but we have looked at their games over the last couple of months and can get a general idea of what we think they might do.
“Either way, we try to help our players be as tactically aware as possible when it comes to our opponents so that if they change something then we can react to that and counter it in the most efficient way possible.”
There has been plenty of speculation on the future of one Thistle player in particular this week and Gary gave the latest on Chris Erskine’s situation with the Club.
“Another Club came and asked if they could speak to Chris. He hasn’t played as much as he would have liked which I think has been frustrating for him but that’s completely understandable. I wouldn’t want to stand in his way and prevent him from speaking to another club but he’s still a Partick Thistle player, he has been training well and he will be part of the squad on Saturday.”
The gaffer finished by explaining his plans for the rest of the January transfer window following a busy first week of 2019.
“We’re still working to bring more players in, as we will right up until the end of the window. We’ve always said it’s a long window and as long as we come out in February with a better squad than we started January with, then we’ll have taken a step in the right direction.
“We started quickly and added a few names that we thought would improve the squad. Now it’s time to take stock, breathe and continue working towards the rest of the targets that we need.”
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Article Copyright © 2019. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to ptfc.co.uk.
For the second week in a row Thistle score first but are unable to hold on for full points.
Blair Spittal gave Thistle the lead on the hour mark but Falkirk netted a 76th minute equaliser two minutes after Gary Harkins was sent off for collecting second yellow card.
The referee spots a foul as Thistle try and clear the corner.
Slater's free kick is cleared.
Slater is fouled right on the right hand touchline about 30 yards from goal.
A Keillor-Dunn shot goes wide of Hazard's right hand post.
Slater's free kick is cleared and when Cardle gives the ball away cheaply Falkirk break.
Erskine is fouled near the left hand corner of the Falkirk box.
Penrice makes an important interception but it is Falkirk in foirm control at the moment.
Man of the Match: Stuart Bannigan
Rudden's shot nearly sneaks under Hazard but he gets enough of a body to the ball to save.
Slater's free kick is poor and Falkirk try to break.
Slater is fouled and Thistle have a free kick about 35 yards from the Falkirk goal.
Hazard makes a great stop but the loose ball finds Zak Rudden and he bundles the ball home from close range.
Thistle are down to ten men as Harkins collects a second yellow card for a foul a few yards inside the Thistle half. Boos ring out from the Thistle fans.
Elliott cuts inside after receiving a pass from Spittal and his left foot effort nearly beats Mitchell who makes a diving save.
Storey shoots from the left corner of the Falkirk box but his shot is on the rise and clears the bar with some comfort.
Thistle are under pressure again and this time it is Penrice that steps in to clear.
Storey flicks on Spittal's corner but the flick takes the ball over the head of Doolan.
Thistle look for a penalty as Slater goes down inside the box.
Thistle are under pressure until Bannigan steps in to clear.
Storey advances into the Falkirk box but he never fully gets the ball under control and Falkirk clear.
Waddington gets half a chance as the corner drifts towards the Thistle back post but he can't direct his header on target and TYhistle have a goal kick.
Storey is able to turn at the corner of the Falkirk box but drags his shot wide of target.
Spittal appeals in vain for a corner as his shot goes over the bar.
Penrice stabs the ball into the path of Spittal whose shot beats the outstreched hamds of Mitchell and finds the bottom corner of the net.
Elliott gets the ball in from the right but his cross is behind both Doolan and Harkins.
Harkins collects a pass from Storey. He is able to work the ball onto his left foot for a shooting chance but can't keep his shot down.
Spittal's corner meets the run of McGinty. McGinty's header is powerful enough but he can't keep it down and it goes just over the bar. He may feel that he should have done better with that effort.
Kidd takes the free kick and lifts the ball over the Thistle wall and high over the crossbar.
Falkirk win a free kick about 5 yards outside the Thistle box and just right of centre. Looked a soft award it has to be said.
It's been a first half of little action in front of either goal.
Thistle have had the better of the possession but the game's one chance of note came the way of Falkirk with Hazard making a good stop to deny Rudden.
He doesn't escape this time following a foul on Spittal.
Osman escapes a booking for a foul on Doolan near the half way line.
Tempers are rising.
Thistle make a real mess of the free kick that follows.
Slater is fouled .near the right hand corner flag
Hazard makes a good catch from McShane's corner.
Kidd's cross after getting the better of Penrice nearly sneaks in.
Slater curls the free kick in looking for McGinty's run at the back post but the ball goes behind for a goal kick.
Harkins is clipped and Thistle have a free kick a few yards from the right hand corner of the Falkirk box.
An Elliott shot from just outside the Falkirk box goes wide of Mitchell's right hand post.
Slater gets the ball to Elliott on the right. His cross is behind Doolan but falls to Penrice whose shot is blocked.
Slater tries to find McGinty at the back post with a free kick from wide on the right. McGinty does get on the end of the cross but is only able to head the ball tamely over the bar.
Falkirk are close to opening the scoring as Rudden finds himself clear on goal but Hazard makes himself a big target to beat and makes a good blocking save.
Slater overhits a cross from the right hand side.
Storey gets himself into a good position on the left but can't find a Thistle player with his cross.
Neither Storey nor Doolan can get a Penrice cross under control for a shot at goal.
Hazard's poor kick puts Thistle under a bit of pressure but when MacLean gets a chance to shoot he doesn't make clean contact with the ball and Hazard has an easy save to make.
Storey is fouled and Thistle have a free kick in from the right hand touchline.
Spittal puts over a cross from the left but it is too close to Mitchell who gathers te ball with no fuss.
Falkirk are under a bit of pressure from Slater's corner but the ball is cleared for a Thistle throw.
Spittal is challenged right at the edge of the Falkirk box.
Mitchell slices a clearance out the park and Thistle have a throw deep inside the Falkirk half.
There is no denying the importance of this afternoon's fixture with Falkirk where a Jags win would allow Thistle to leapfrog Falkirk and climb off the foot of the league table.
There was encouragement in a draw at Dundee United last Saturday and Gary Caldwell has selected the same side that started that game to start today which means home debuts for Conor Hazard, Gary Harkins (second time around) and Steven Saunders.
The only change comes on the bench with Andrew McCarthy, who is unwell, being replaced by Aidan Fitzpatrick.
Partick Thistle returned to Maryhill this afternoon as they faced Falkirk in a bottom of the table clash. The Jags were looking to record a first win of 2019 after an encouraging showing at Tannadice last week while Falkirk were aiming to build on their impressive victory over Ayr United at Somerset Park.
Gary Caldwell named an unchanged side as he looked for a similarly energetic performance with Conor Hazard making his home debut in between the sticks. Steven Saunders was also making his inaugural appearance in Maryhill alongside Christie Elliott, Sean McGinty and James Penrice as part of a back four which was screened by Stuart Bannigan and Gary Harkins at the base of the midfield. Craig Slater and Blair Spittal operated as more advanced midfielders with Kris Doolan and Miles Storey up front. On the bench for the hosts it was Jamie Sneddon, Dan Jefferies, Callum Wilson, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Joe Cardle, Chris Erskine and Ally Roy.
Falkirk adopted the same 5-4-1 formation that they used when these sides met at the Falkirk Stadium in November and that defensive approach made for a fairly uneventful start to the game. The travelling Bairns were gifted a half-chance in the ninth minute though when Conor Hazard’s miscued clearance found a Falkirk man. The ball was fed to Ross MacLean in the box but the former Morton man scuffed his effort which Hazard held comfortably.
The away side then broke for another chance on 16 minutes down the left flank. Rangers loanee, Zak Rudden was fed the ball down the channel and had some space to run into. The number 19 tried to beat Conor Hazard from a tight angle after a pacey attack but the ‘keeper parried the ball away from goal, denying Rudden his eighth of the season.
The hosts did half a few opportunities though none of them were particularly clear cut. Sean McGinty’s header went well over the bar before James Penrice and Christie Elliott saw ranged efforts go wide of the target with the former’s shot taking a deflection.
Nevertheless, the game went into the interval at 0-0 with neither team looking dangerous enough to suggest they should be infront. Falkirk’s ‘park the bus’ approach had successfully stifled both teams attacks with the Bairns only able to threaten through counter attacks while the home side had looked rather toothless in the final third.
The second 45 minutes began with a bit more rhythm than the first and the Jags nearly took the lead on 52 minutes. It was Blair Spittal’s corner that caused the problems as he found Sean McGinty with his cross. The number six nodded the ball goalwards with power but his attempt went just over the bar and the defender’s search for his first Thistle goal continued.
Thistle were able to break the deadlock though as Blair Spittal bagged his sixth of the season on the hour mark. It was James Penrice who set him up with a smart low cross which found Spittal in a bit of space and after a decent first touch the number seven prodded the ball towards David Mitchell’s goal. The effort was scuffed but trickled into the corner of the net and Thistle had the advantage.
There were half chances to follow for both sides as Miles Storey, Mark Waddington and Christie Elliott all endeavoured to score for their respective sides without any luck but then the complexion of the entire game was changed as Andrew Dallas decided to send Gary Harkins off for a second yellow card.
The number 11 had picked up a first booking in the 46th minute for his second foul of the game before being dismissed 27 minutes later for his next foul. Harkins was judged to have caught Ross MacLean slightly late and Dallas didn’t hesitate to send the ex-Dundee man for an early bath.
Then, just two minutes later, the Bairns drew level through Zak Rudden. Ross MacLean picked up a loose ball on the Falkirk right and whipped the ball in with his left foot. His delivery found Mark Waddington who saw a header saved brilliantly by Conor Hazard at close range. Unfortunately for the Northern Irish ‘stopper, the rebound fell straight to Zak Rudden who tapped home for his first goal since returning on loan from Rangers.
In the 79th minute, the Maryhill men made a double change to re-energise the Thistle side with Joe Cardle and Chris Erskine replacing Kris Doolan and Blair Spittal.
The away side had a chance to complete their comeback in the 82nd minute as Zak Rudden looked to bag a brace. The number 19 got the ball in the Thistle box and with options to his right, he decided to attempt a shot. Conor Hazard got plenty behind the effort though and the rebound was cleared.
With a minute to go until added time, Ally Roy was substituted on for Miles Storey as the Airdrie-born striker made his first home appearance.
That would be all though as Thistle saw the game out for a point. The Jags did well to keep Falkirk at bay despite being a man down but will ultimately be rueing another two points dropped from a leading position seven days on from their 1-1 draw at Tannadice.
The result leaves Thistle seven points behind Alloa in eighth and keeps them a point behind the day’s opponents, Falkirk.
There’s now a break from league action for the Jags as they turn their attentions to a William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Stranraer. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
It was another missed opportunity for three points this afternoon as far as Partick Thistle were concerned with the Jags once again letting a one goal lead slip before coming away with just one point. Last week it was Dundee United and today it was Falkirk with the dismissal of Gary Harkins significantly hampering the home side’s search for three points.
Thistle had taken the lead through Blair Spittal’s scuffed effort but, following Harkins’ red card, Zak Rudden was able to bundle home an equaliser which meant the sides shared the spoils at full time. Jags boss, Gary Caldwell, spoke to ptfc.co.uk following the match’s conclusion:
“It’s another tough one to take because we controlled the game completely. Granted, we weren’t incisive enough in the first half but we asked the guys for more creative play at half time and I felt we got that from them.
“It’s difficult to play against a 5-4-1 where there are essentially nine men on the edge of their box but we were patient and scored a good goal. I think we would have won the game had it not been for the red card.”
Gary then gave us his view on the sending off of Gary Harkins as the number 11 was dismissed for a second yellow card.
“It’s every week in this league where there are bad decisions and I think that was another one. The referee was letting the Falkirk bench get in his ear and it felt like every foul we committed was a yellow while they were getting away with identical fouls.”
Nevertheless, the gaffer was pleased with the way his side held out after conceding to ensure that they at least came away with a point.
“It was disappointing to concede so quickly but the boys did well after that to keep things tight and stop them from really creating anything more. They didn’t look very dangerous, even as we got into the last two or three minutes and that’s a credit to how calm and composed the defence were.”
Although Alloa’s win over Morton leaves Thistle eight points behind the Wasps, Caldwell is still confident his side can make up the ground and get above the bottom two spots.
“You can see in the last two week’s games that the team has improved and there’s still more business we hope to do this month because we still need one or two additions but the guys we have already brought in have made the team better and we’re getting closer to where we want to be.”
A more in depth video interview with Gary Caldwell is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Conor Hazard and Blair Spittal – log in now to see them.
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Article Copyright © 2019. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to ptfc.co.uk