Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division 1
Sat 1 September, 2012. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
There was disappointment in Hamilton on Tuesday night when we suffered our first defeat of the season. We are, however, at the stage of the season where the football comes at a fair old rate and Saturday afternoon provides us with the opportunity for revenge with a league fixture against the same opposition.
Tuesday’s unfortunate defeat doesn’t detract from the quite excellent start that we have made to the league season. The three games played have produced nine points and a position at the top of the league. Nobody is getting carried away by the fact that we top the division after just 270 minutes of football, but there is no denying that there is an air of optimism around the Club at the moment. To keep that feeling going we will need three points against a Hamilton side that showed on Tuesday night that they will a tough proposition to overcome.
On Thursday Thistle were able to add to the squad with the loan signing of Steven Craig from Ross County, the 31 year old following in his father’s footsteps by pulling on a Partick Thistle jersey. Steven, as you might expect, will go straight into the squad for Saturday’s game. Said Jackie McNamara when speaking to www.ptfc.co.uk;
“Steven trained with us for the first time on Thursday and he will be included in the squad for Saturday’s game. It’s been a wee while since Steven last played competitive first team football and he will need a little time to get up to full match sharpness. I fully expect him to give us a good turn while he is at the Club. I’ve felt that we’ve lacked a little experience up front and Steven will help add that and take a little bit of the pressure off Kris Doolan. He’ll help in terms of getting the ball to stick up front and he’ll help us keep possession of the ball.”
Steven Craig won’t be the only addition to the squad that Thistle took through to New Douglas Park midweek.
“It’s good to be able to welcome back Hugh Murray who missed Tuesday’s game through suspension. He too will bring extra experience to the side. His organisational skills have been excellent so far this season. Indeed the side that we have been fielding in the league has been playing very well and the shape of the team seems to suit us.”
In addition to David Rowson, who remains on the injury list, there are a couple of injury doubts ahead of Saturday’s game as the manager reveals.
“We are going to have to wait on both Aaron Muirhead and Steven Lawless, both of whom are carrying slight knocks. Aaron was in the wars on Tuesday night picking up a number of knocks. Steven meantime took a kick to the back of his ankle. We are hopeful that both should be okay for what is a massive match for us.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
4 0 1 12 6
Scorers Season 2012-2013
Kris Doolan 4
Chris Erskine 4
Steven Lawless 3
Stuart Bannigan 2
Christie Elliott 1
Aaron Sinclair 1
Hamilton Accies Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
2 1 2 4 4
Scorers Season 2012-2013
Ali Crawford 2
Darian MacKinnon 1
Jon Routledge 1
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Saturday September 1st 2012
Partick Thistle v Hamilton Accies
OAP (65+): £12
Full Time Education: £12
Referee: Steven McLean
Assistant Referees: Stuart MacMillan and Thomas Clark
Irn-Bru Scottish League First Division
Dunfermline v Raith Rovers
Morton v Dumbarton
Airdrie United v Cowdenbeath
Falkirk v Livingston (Sunday)
Thistle this afternoon consolidated their position at the top of the First Division with an ultimately comprehensive victory over Hamilton.
Looking to record a fourth successive league win Jackie McNamara, with Hugh Murray available after missing Tuesday’s game, reverted back to the side that defeated Dumbarton seven days earlier. New loan signing Steven Craig meantime took up a place on the bench, although he would make an appearance inside the first 30 minutes.
It was Hamilton that were the better side in the opening quarter of this game. Their loan signing from St Johnstone, Steven May, was causing Thistle problems and in the 13th minute Thistle were grateful to Scott Fox who, not once but twice, saved to deny May a goal.
It took Thistle a bit of time to get going but in the 25th minute there was positive signs with Aaron Muirhead managing to get his head to a Stuart Bannigan free kick but he wasn’t able to keep his header down and the ball cleared the bar.
Thistle though were again thankful to Scott Fox for keeping out another effort from May after Hugh Murray had been caught in possession deep inside his own half.
As half-time neared Sean Welsh was starting to have an increasing influence on proceedings. In the 40th minute he pushed the ball through to Steven Lawless who was denied by Cuthbert with the loose ball headed behind for a Thistle corner. It was from the corner that followed that Thistle took the lead. Steven Lawless’ corner was flicked on and when the ball came off the underside of the Hamilton bar, Sean Welsh was on hand to force the ball home from right on the goal line.
Hamilton nearly produced a quick fire response and Fox was again called into action. This time producing a fine stop to tip an Ali Crawford effort over the bar.
The half finished with Thistle on top for just about the first time in the afternoon. Good work from Stephen O’Donnell forced a corner on the right and Paul Paton, after collecting a pass from Sean Welsh, saw his shot saved by Kevin Cuthbert. Given the sluggish start to the game few Thistle fans were complaining about only taking a one goal advantage into the dressing room at half-time.
Eleven minutes after the restart Thistle had a second goal in controversial circumstances. Hamilton keeper Kevin Cuthbert certainly felt that he was fouled as Paul Paton’s corner came over but play was allowed to continue and after Chris Erskine nodded the ball on, Steven Craig forced the ball home to make a scoring debut.
In the 64th minute Thistle took a giant stride to making the points secure. It had been to this point one of the quieter afternoons for Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless but the two combined for Thistle’s third goal. Erskine crossed from the right and Lawless steered the ball into the bottom of the net.
The fourth Thistle goal in the 86th minute was a somewhat fortunate one and the kind that you rarely scorte in a tight game. Kevin Cuthbert, who had been in excellent form in his side’s win over Thistle on Tuesday, saw his clearance strike Steven Craig and fly past him and into the back of the net.
Understandably after a 4-0 win, our fourth consecutive win in the league, it was a contented Jackie McNamara that www.ptfc.co.uk spoke to after this afternoon’s game.
“I think when you score four goals and don’t concede then you have to be satisfied. I feel though that we can play a lot better. At half-time I was happy to be 1-0 ahead. We didn’t pass the ball well in the first half. In fact we played much better in the first half on Tuesday night but didn’t get the reward for that. Football is a bit like that at times.”
“I felt that we looked a bit anxious at times when we were in possession. That might have been as a result of what happened on Tuesday night when we didn’t get the goals that we merited. In the second half you could see the lift the players got from the goals. There was great desire from the lads to keep going even when the score was 3-0. Christie Elliott was closing players down and of course Steven Craig got his reward with the ricochet at the fourth goal.”
“There were a lot of pleasing things about today. The fact that I know that we can player better and that we kept another clean sheet. Scott Fox has had two wee things in the first half but after that it was very very quiet for him. I’m delighted with the score and I’m delighted with the players attitude.”
There was praise for Steven Craig who marked his Thistle debut with two goals.
“I think everyone can see the experience that Steven has, and he knows how to use his body to good effect. First and foremost I’m delighted to have managed to bring him in. There’s been a lot of players that have gone out on loan to various clubs in the last few days. In the main they have been younger players and we’ve been fortunate that we have managed to bring in a player with experience which has perhaps been lacking. I think Steven is going to prove to be a big asset for us and he will be able to use that experience and help other players. Today he was excellent when he came on for Kris Doolan. Even when the balls up to him weren’t great he was able to make the most of them. He’s a real handful and never stops.”
Steven Craig came on in the first half to replace an injured Kris Doolan and the manager was able to give us an update on Kris and Alan Archibald who also came off injured this afternoon.
“It’s nothing too serious with either of them. Kris’ injury is probably the one that is giving us the most concern and hopefully it is just a strain of his thigh rather than a tare and something more sinister. He actually did it in the very first minute when he went through and the guy pulled him down and he struggled after that. Archie just got a bang. It isn’t his knee which is good, just his hip. He got a bang on it in the first half and it started to stiffen up. At half-time we decided to see how he would go in the second half.”
Conrad Balatoni was the player who came on to replace the Club captain in the second half.
“It was good to give Conrad a bit of game time. We’ve got a good squad at the moment. Mark McGuigan and James Craigen missed out today and it is important to try and make sure that those that are left out are still made to feel part of things as we continue to try and move forward.”
Hamilton manager Billy Reid meantime was a bit more downbeat than his opposite number.
“It just wasn’t our day today. I think I had a lot of tired and jaded players out there including my captain who came through 120 minutes on Tuesday after not having played a lot of football. We’ve lost 4-0 but I don’t think we were battered at all. Thistle are a good team and once they got a couple ahead they played with a bit of a swagger but I didn’t see it as a game in which we got a battering.”
There was some controversy surrounding Thistle’s second goal. Said Reid;
“My players feel aggrieved about that goal. They feel that our goalkeeper was barged as the corner came over but we didn’t get the decision.”