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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC

Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division 1
Wed 26 December, 2012. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.

Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle
1
Graeme Smith
2
Aaron Muirhead
3
Aaron Sinclair
4
Paul Paton
5
Conrad Balatoni
6
Alan Archibald
7
Steve Lawless (Sean Welsh (17), 68 mins)
8
Stuart Bannigan
9
Steven Craig
10
Ross Forbes
11
Chris Erskine (Stephen O'Donnell (16), 67 mins)
 
Subs
12
Scott Fox
14
Kris Doolan
15
Hugh Murray
16
Stephen O'Donnell
17
Sean Welsh
Greenock Morton
1
Derek Gaston
2
Craig Reid
3
Willie Dyer (Scott Taggart (12), 80 mins)
4
Fouad Bachirou
5
Kevin Rutkiewicz
6
Mark McLaughlin
7
David Graham (Tony Wallace (16), 22 mins)
8
Michael Tidser
9
Peter Weatherson (Peter MacDonald (14), 76 mins)
10
Martin Hardie
11
David O'Brien
 
Subs
12
Scott Taggart
14
Peter MacDonald
15
Kyle Wilkie
16
Tony Wallace
20
David Hutton
 
Subs
12
Scott Fox
14
Kris Doolan
15
Hugh Murray
16
Stephen O'Donnell
17
Sean Welsh
 
Subs
12
Scott Taggart
14
Peter MacDonald
15
Kyle Wilkie
16
Tony Wallace
20
David Hutton
Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Greenock Morton – 26th December 2012

The waiting is nearly over. Not for Christmas Day but the bigger event at Firhill the following day; Partick Thistle v Morton.
The Boxing Day fixture against the side that currently sit in third position in the First Division is unquestionably a vitally important one but as manager Jackie McNamara explained to [link:HOME] we are now entering a potentially pivotal stage of the season.

“This period is a crucial stage of the season, it always has been. Results over this period can shape your season for you. Our match with Morton is vitally important game for both teams but with a two point lead at the top of the table, and with a game in hand, we want if possible to extend that lead over the next few games.”
The manager though won’t have a full squad to select from; at least not for the Morton match.
“For some reason we seem to have picked up a few ankle injuries of late. Stephen O’Donnell is still struggling with his ankle injury. He’s done a bit of running but he’s still feeling the injury and he is doubtful for the Morton game. There would need to be a significant improvement over the next couple of days to allow him to play. Mark McGuigan too has picked up an ankle injury and he also is a doubt for Wednesday’s game.”
Jackie continued;
“Sean Welsh is still out injured but he’s joined us for a bit of training and it’s good to see him back and good to see him kicking the ball again. It’s now a case of pain management for him. Bruising of the bone can be a frustrating injury as I’ve discovered myself. You think you are okay and then you feel a bit of pain again. Sean though is getting there and it shouldn’t be too much longer before he is back which will be a real boost for us.”
Goalkeeper Scott Fox too is on the way back.
“Scott is back training with is and is looking really good. This is the first week in which he has really done much kicking and he is ready to come back into the squad.”
“I’d love to have a full squad available for this game but I know that we still have the players good enough to win this game.”
A game on Boxing Day does, of course, mean a Christmas Day training session but as Jackie says that’s just part and parcel of being involved in football.
“Although it will be Christmas Day it will just been the normal kind of training session that we would do before any game. Obviously everyone wants to spend as much of Christmas Day as possible with their families but it’s important that we prepare properly for the game on Boxing day.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W            D             L              F              A
3              0              2              10           5
Scorers Season 2012-2013
Steven Lawless 10
Chris Erskine 8
Kris Doolan 7
Steven Craig 6
Stuart Bannigan 4
Ross Forbes 3
Aaron Muirhead 2
Aaron Sinclair 2
Sean Welsh 2
Conrad Balatoni 1
Christie Elliott 1
Stephen O’Donnell 1
Own Goal 1
Last Game
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday December 15th 2012
Partick Thistle 3, Raith Rovers 2
Morton Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W            D             L              F              A
3              2              0              13           4
Scorers Season 2012-2013
Archie Campbell 11
Peter Weatherson 11
David O’Brien 6
Michael Tidser 6
Martin Hardie 5
Tony Wallace 3
David Graham 2
Mark McLaughlin 2
Kevin Rutkiewicz 2
Stephen Stirling 2
Lewis Hawke 1
Peter MacDonald 1
Last Game
William Hill Scottish Cup Fourth Round Replay
Monday December 17th 2012
Morton 6, Turriff United 0
Last Meeting
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday October 6th 2012
Morton 3, Partick Thistle 1
Teams
Morton: Gaston, Reid, Dyer, Bachirou, Rutkiewicz, McLaughlin (Naismith), Stirling (Graham), Tidser, Weatherson (Hardie), Campbell, O’Brien.
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Bannigan, Paton, Muirhead, Archibald, Lawless (Doolan), Welsh (Slane), Craig, Murray, Erskine (Sinclair).
Scorers
Morton: Rutkiewicz (14), McLaughlin (39), O’Brien (86)
Thistle: Craig (20)
Crowd: 3,445
Match Highlights

Match Details
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Wednesday December 26th 2012
Partick Thistle v Morton
Kick-off: 3:00pm
Come Home to Firhilll
Prices
Adults: £17
OAP (65+): £12
16-21: £12
Full Time Education: £12
Programme £2.50
Match Officials
Referee: Bobby Madden
Assistant Referees: James Bee and Derek Crothers
Other First Division Fixtures
Dunfermline Athletic v Falkirk
Hamilton Accies v Airdrie United

Match Report

Partick Thistle v Greenock Morton – 26th December 2012

Morton’s come from behind victory on Boxing Day saw them become the first side to leave Firhill with league points in a game that left Thistle frustrated. Frustration at a failure not to have established a bigger lead when on top; and frustration over a number of key decisions that went against them.
The first of those key decisions came as early as the seventh minute following a frantic opening period to the game. Ross Forbes’ cross from the right took a deflection off a Morton defender, a deflection that seemed to unsettle keeper Gaston who, under pressure, dropped the ball. Steven Craig was immediately onto the loose ball and after turning sharply he fired the ball home only to have his, and Thistle’s, celebrations cut short.
Thistle though were able to shrug off that disappointment and very quickly established a firm grip on the game. In the 11th minute they missed an excellent chance to take the lead when Craig’s downward header from an Aaron Muirhead cross spun over the bar.
With Thistle doing all the pressing Chris Erskine saw his 25th minute effort headed off the line thus denying Thistle a richly deserved lead.
They had to wait, however, just a further two minutes to finally take the lead. Steven Lawless crossed from the left and Steven Craig rose above the Morton defence to head the ball wide of Gaston and into the net.
It was a richly deserved lead for Thistle and in the 37th minute they were a whisker away from a second goal that few in the crowd of just under 5,000 would have grudged them. Ross Forbes’ corner from the left was met by Aaron Sinclair who stabbed the ball goalwards only to see his effort rebound off the base of the post.
Morton meantime only very occasionally threatened the Thistle goal in the first half. Tony Wallace did have the ball in the net but he was clearly offside when he did saw and O’Brien was also offside when he struck the frame of the Thistle goal in the 42nd minute.
It was first half injury time before Graeme Smith was really tested in the Thistle goal and he did well to tip a McLaughlin header over the bar following a Tidser corner.
Though Thistle clearly merited their lead at the break there could be no degree of comfort until they had added a second goal and they were desperately unfortunate on two occasion not to do so in the opening minutes of the second half.
Firstly a surging run from Steven Craig ended with Craig pushing the ball through to Ross Forbes who saw his shot saved by the feet of Gaston.
Seconds later Gaston was beaten when a Chris Erskine shot took a deflection but the ball went agonisingly wide of goal.
Had either of those chances produced a goal the outcome of the game may well have been totally different. Instead Morton began to come more into the game. On two occasions Thistle had to be grateful for the intervention of Alan Archibald before Morton drew level after 63 minutes. Graeme Smith initially did well to push away a well struck Wallace shot but was helpless when the loose ball feel perfectly into the path of Martin Hardie who made no mistake.
Thistle made a couple of changes in the wake of that goal, Welsh and O’Donnell coming on for Erskine and Lawless but before those changes had time to have any impact Thistle were reduced to ten men when Ross Forbes, in probably the pivotal moment of the second half, was sent off.
Forbes was booked in the 63rd minute and when he was shade late on Reid six minutes later out came the red card.
Stephen O’Donnell did test Gaston with a long range effort but it was Morton that had the momentum at this stage and Thistle, a man short, were under increasing pressure. Morton would have taken a 79th minute lead but for a goal line clearance from Conrad Balatoni but the game’s winning goal arrived for Morton five minutes later.
A cross from the left was collected by Scott Taggart at the far post and his low drive found the net.
This Thistle side is not short of spirit and fight and they could have snatched a late equaliser and maintained their three point lead over Morton with Gaston turning the ball round the post for a corner after an O’Donnell free kick had been pumped into the Morton box.

Match Reaction

Partick Thistle v Greenock Morton – 26th December 2012

It was a clearly frustrated Jackie McNamara that spoke to the press after yesterday’s 2-1 defeat by Morton; a game that he clearly felt should have been won long before the Morton equaliser.
“I think to say that the game should have been dead and buried before Morton scored would be a good take on the game. We were a bit unlucky at times; there was the shot that came off the inside of the post and I think that Steven Craig scored a perfectly valid goal. He’s not looked at the goalie when he put the ball in the net.”
Jackie continued;
“I thought that there were a lot of baffling decisions today. There were bookings for our players while others didn’t get punished. I thought there were a lot of inconsistencies today. Look at the booking of Aaron Sinclair when the boy has run into him. Then after that the boy pulls him back and the referee gives the free kick but there’sno booking, then he stands in front of the ball in the last minute. I thought that a lot of things went against us today but credit to the lads they kept going and we might even have snatched a draw when we were down to ten men again.”
Ross Forbes’ red card was in many people’s eyes a fairly soft sending off. Said Jackie;
“I didn’t see the first yellow card to be honest, I didn’t even know that he had been booked.”
The manager bemoaned a couple of missed opportunities at the start of the second half.
“We had a couple of good chances at the start of the second half but even in the first half I felt that we should have been further ahead. Steven Craig did really well to set up Ross Forbes and it was a really good save from the keeper with his foot and Erskine’s has deflected just past. I can’t fault the players for effort, we’re just disappointed in how it finished for us. It was a good chance for us to extend our lead at the top. First half I thought that we passed the ball in difficult circumstances. We knew that their threat was going to come from second balls, diagonals and set pieces.”
And what is the latest on Steven Craig whose loan spell will end at the end of Saturday’s game with Airdrie United.
“We hope to keep him. Obviously things need to be sorted out with Ross County and I think that is between Steven and the club at the moment. I thought Steven did really well for us today. As well as the goal there was the header from a good ball in from Aaron Muirhead and obviously there was the disallowed goal which I felt was a valid goal. He could have had about 4 goals today. I thought that his all round work rate was excellent. Obviously it was difficult for him when we went down to ten men and he was isolated up front but I thought that he worked away well.”
Although defeated yesterday the manager was still pleased to be able to welcome some players back following injury
“It was a big plus being able to bring Sean Welsh back in although I thought Stephen O’Donnell looked a little nervy when he came on.”
After losing the equaliser the manager made a couple of changes soon after but before they could make any impact the whole shape of the game changed with the ordering off of Ross Forbes.
“It was difficult as I had just made the changes. Although they kept one man up front they were getting more of the ball and we weren’t passing the ball as we had been in the first half. That’s why I brought on Sean as an extra midfielder and moved Stuart Bannigan a little over to the left.”

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