SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 25 February, 2017. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
With Storm Doris battering much of the country Alan Archibald was grateful of the excuse to duck into some cover and talk to ptfc.co.uk about the upcoming Ladbrokes Premiership clash with Hearts. Archibald started by joking that he hoped his side didn’t get the Gorgie Boys’ backlash after the derby defeat on Tuesday night.
Archibald said: “I think as a manager you always look for a reaction from your players after any defeat but especially after a massive game like that. I just hope we don’t feel the backlash on Saturday afternoon! Whenever we have had a bad performance over the years we always look to get a reaction and I don’t expect Hearts to be any different at all.”
“Getting three points at home against Hamilton Accies last week was a massive boost for us and it really gives us a platform to go and build on. Our home form has been disappointing this season but hopefully we can use the Accies game as a bit of a catalyst to go and turn that form around going into an absolutely crucial stage of the season for us.
“The result last week came in difficult conditions and we didn’t really get to play a lot of football – especially in the first half. Games can sometimes be like that though but first and foremost we need to go out there and earn the right to play our football. If we win the individual battles then we can go and start hurting teams. If we can do that this week then hopefully we can secure back to back home wins.”
Although Thistle’s record against Hearts in recent times is mixed Archie is keen not to let stats play too much on his mind in the run up to Saturday.
“We’ve played well against Hearts this season after never really laying a glove on them last term. That has been pleasing but it really means nothing come 3pm on Saturday. If we go out and play our own game then we are capable of hurting Hearts but we have to go into it with belief. We were very good against them at Tynecastle and their keeper was probably man of the match so we can take a bit of confidence from that.”
Finally Archibald gave us a run down on the state of his squad.
“The big change will be that Sean Welsh was in for surgery today (Thursday). He fractured his fifth metatarsal so will be out for a few weeks. It can be anywhere between eight and 12 for that kind of injury but we’re hoping it will be closer to eight. You’ve really got to feel for Sean but I think the injury tag that has been placed on him in the past is well and truly behind him now. He’s played just about every game for us over the last two seasons and has been one of our top performers this year.
“On the positive side of things Christie Elliott returns to the squad following the second game of his suspension. Other than that it’s just the longer term ones – Ryan Scully, Stuart Bannigan and Gary Fraser. Ryan is recovering well from his shoulder surgery and both Gary and Stuart have been doing some straight line running this week so we just need to keep an eye on their progress, none of them will be rushed though.”
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Article Copyright © 2017. Permission to use quotations from this article online is only granted subject to appropriate source credit and hyperlink to ptfc.co.uk
Thistle are excellent value for their win.
Kris Doolan's 98th goal of his Partick Thistle career which arrived as early as the 4th minute gave Thistle a half-time lead.
Although Hearts had a 15 minute spell where they were arguably the better side Thistle were the better side for long spells but had to wait until the 72nd minute to get the goal that secured the points. Liam Lindsay turning inside the box before drilling a low shot into the back of the net.
Booth pushes a pass through to Lawless but there is no power in his shot and Hamilton makes an easy save.
Minimum of 3 minutes added time.
Man of the Match: Kris Doolan.
Booth's corner is cleared but drops to Lawless at the edge of the box who volleys over the crossbar.
The free kick is floated in but Osman heads strongly clear.
Hearts free kick right on the Thistle bye line.
Booth's free kick is cleared but Osman keeps the ball in on the right hand side. His cross is collected by Lindsay who turns and buries a low shot past Hamilton.
Doolan is fouled near the touch line and Thistle will have a chance to get the ball into the Hearts box.
Barton picks out Elliott wide on the right. Elliott cuts inside and drills a shot across the face of the Hearts goal.
Djoum takes the free kick and it goes high and wide. A poor effort from the Hearts player.
Nicholson is fouled and Hearts have a free kick about 5 yards outside the Thistle box and just left of centre.
Rherras' shot clears the Thistle crossbar with plenty to spare.
A handball from Nicholson on another day may have earned him a second yellow card.
Erskine curls the free kick in and skims off the head of Keown and out for a goal kick.
Thistle free kick near the right corner of the box.
Goncalves, who has had an unhappy afternoon, collects a second yellow card for a foul and his afternoon is over.
Erskine's pass, after winning the ball on the halfway line, is too strong for Doolan available to his left.
Nicholson's shot trickles to the waiting Cerny.
Nowak lashes a shot well wide of the Thistle goal after a Struna cross is cleared into his path 35 yards from goal.
A through ball catches Doolan in an offside position.
Kris Doolan's 4th minute goal is enough to give Thistle a half-time lead.
Hearts did respond well to the loss of that goal and for a spell they were the better side albeit they never forced Cerny into a direct save.
Thistle got stronger the longer the half went on and Doolan was areal threat throughout the half. Hamilton saved at his feet when Doolan looked set to pounce and net a second goal and also saw a header from a Booth cross pushed away by the aforementioned Hearts keeper.
Minimum of 1 minute of added time to be played.
Thistle and Doolan are so close to a second goal. Booth crosses from the left and Doolan sees his header pushed away by a diving Hamilton.
The referee spots a foul as Walker aims the corner towards the near post and Thistle have a free kick.
Edwards plays the ball to the feet of Erskine inside the box and to the right of the goal. Erskine's hook of the all towards the Hearts goal is too strong though and it goes out for a goal kick.
Thistle pressure and Hearts are thankful to get the ball clear from the edge of their box.
A Dumbuya cross hits off a Hearts defender right into the path of Doolan who looks set to grab a second goal of the afternoon but Hamilton dives at his feet and claims the ball.
A Tziolis effort is well wide of the Thistle goal.
Doolan is adjudged to have fouled Sowah as he attempts to break clear of the Hearts defender.
Doolan has the ball in the net again but he is well offside when a Barton shot falls into his path in front of the Hearts goal.
Cerny punches clear Walker's corner.
Dumbuya whips over a cross from the right that is just a little too close to Hamilton.
Booth tries to find Lindsay's run to the back post with the free kick but Hamilton makes a confident catch under a little pressure.
Erskine is fouled and Thistle have a free kick in a similar position to the free kick that led to the goal.
Hearts are well on top at the moment but the [pressure eases slightly as rherras's cross curls out of play for a goal kick.
Goncalves' shot goes wide but the referee had already spotted an infringement inside the box and Thistle have a free kick.
Cerny is able to watch a Walker shot trickle past the post.
Rherras makes progress down the left until Dumbuya eventually takes the ball away from him.
Walker's effort clips the top of the Thistle wall and when the ball is returned into the Thistle box the flag goes up for offside.
Walker is fouled a yard or two outside the Thistle box. Left of centre.
It is too far out fora shot and Cerny comes off his line to claim Walker's free kick.
Hearts free kick near the right corner of the box. Probably too far out for a shot.
What a start for Thistle. Edwards pumps a free kick into the Hearts box. Hearts can't clear and as the ball drops Doolan turns inside the 6 yard box and knocks the ball home.
Goncalves is on the end of a ball over the top. Keown is in close attention and his presence is enough too prevent Goncalves getting a clean strike at goal and Thistle have a goal kick.
Hearts work a short corner and when the ball is delivered into the box Thistle are under a little pressure. There are shouts from the Hearts fans for a penalty when a Hearts player hits the deck inside the box but the ball is safely gathered by Cerny.
Thistle make three changes to the side that starts this afternoon against Hearts.
Kris Doolan, with two goals, and Chris Erskine both made a big impact coming off the bench last Saturday and they start this afternoon. Niall Keown is the other sub from last week to start today.
The three that drop to the bench are David Amoo, Stevie Lawless and Ade Azeez.
After picking up their first league win of 2017 against Hamilton at Firhill last Saturday, Partick Thistle would look to build on it at the same venue but this time against Hearts. The Ladbrokes Premiership’s bottom side, Inverness, picked up a big win over Rangers on Friday night so Thistle had to come up with a performance if they were to stay a decent distance from the bottom two places. Luckily for the Jags, the visitors weren’t in great form, they had failed to win in their last three games, including a damaging 3-1 defeat to their city rivals, Hibernian, on Wednesday night.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side that began the clash with Hamilton last week. Ade Azeez, Steven Lawless and David Amoo dropped to the bench and were replaced by last week’s game changers Kris Doolan and Chris Erskine, Niall Keown also joined the starting 11.
The team reverted to a three-at-the-back formation, similar to the one that was played in the Jags’ William Hill Scottish cup tie with St Johnstone. Mustapha Dumbuya and Callum Booth occupied the wing back positions. Abdul Osman, Adam Barton and Ryan Edwards created a midfield three with Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan playing up-front.
Kris Doolan was the man to get the game underway and he would be the man to open the scoring. Just five minutes into the game the striker was able to break the deadlock and it all came from a Ryan Edwards free-kick. The Australian launched a ball deep into the Hearts box and a combination of Liam Lindsay and a Hearts defender turned the ball back across the box.
A poor headed clearance meant the ball went in the direction of Adam Barton who then headed down to Kris Doolan who controlled before shooting on the turn. His shot nestled into the bottom corner of the Hearts net from very close range as he moved to within two of the much awaited 100 competitive goals in the red and yellow of Partick Thistle. This was not only the first time Thistle had taken the lead against the Jambos since May 2014 but also the first time the Maryhill men had scored in the first 15 minutes of a league game this season.
The contest became a slightly cagey affair after the goal. The home side were happy to allow Hearts some possession as they’re high tempo pressing meant that the Jambos were unable to put together any passing moves. Due to this, the next chance of the match didn’t fall until the 29th minute. Goncalves was fed the ball and found himself at the by-line, he then lifted it back to the edge of the box where Tziolis was situated. The Greek midfielder proceeded to volley towards goal but the ambitious attempt flew high and wide.
A minute after that opportunity, Kris Doolan had a chance to double the lead. Mustapha Dumbuya tried to cross into the box but it deflected off a Hearts body. The ball spun fortuitously and landed at the feet of Doolan who found himself in behind the defence. The forward controlled and then attempted to skip past Jack Hamilton in the Hearts goal but the ‘keeper was able to block with his legs and collect.
There would be one final chance in the opening 45 minutes and it would again fall to the hosts. Callum Booth whipped a cross in from the left wing finding an unmarked Kris Doolan. The marksman had to stoop to head the ball but still got something on target. The attempt was sent towards the near post by Doolan but the Hearts stopper, Hamilton, was able to make a strong, two-handed save.
Hearts would be dealt a blow before the game reached half-time as, with two minutes of the first period remaining captain, Jamie Walker, was forced off through an injury he had been struggling with for a while. He was replaced by Sam Nicholson.
The players went into the interval at 1-0 with Kris Doolan’s eighth league goal of the season the difference. Thistle’s performance had been solid, the centre-half trio had been dominant in the air and on the ground, restricting the away side to little more than half-chances.
The first half had a goal within five minutes but the second half’s first talking point came just four mniutes in. After being fouled by Niall Keown, Esmael Goncalves vented his frustration in the direction of the referee and was adjudged to have been a little bit too strong in his protestations by whistler, Nick Walsh who booked the former St Mirren loanee. It was a yellow card that would prove to be important.
Alan Archibald made his first change of the game in the 51st minute when Christie Elliott made his return from suspension to replace Mustapha Dumbuya who was withdrawn as a precautionary measure after picking up a small knock in the first half.
On the hour mark, the earlier Goncalves yellow card came back to bite the Jambos. Christie Elliott was given the ball on the left flank and skipped past Goncalves. The wing back then tried to go past him a second time but in the second instance, he was taken down and Nick Walsh brandished another booking meaning Esmael Goncalves was dismissed and Ian Cathro’s team were down to 10 men.
After going down to 10 men, Hearts were struggling to create openings. One of their better second half attempts came when Faycal Rherras cut in from the left hand side and hit a shot from 35 yards. Unfortunately for the visitors, the defender’s attempt flew over the bar.
Even when up against ten men, a one goal lead is not a safe one which is why the Firhill faithful would have been ecstatic to see their team double the lead in the 73rd minute.
A Callum Booth corner was nodded away from danger by a defender and seemed to be going out for a corner but Thistle skipper, Abdul Osman, had other ideas and kept the ball in play before hitting an excellent cross into the centre of the box, finding Liam Lindsay. The centre-half controlled the ball sensationally and hit a half-volley on the turn. The shot was very powerful and was beat Jack Hamilton at his near post making it 2-0 to the hosts. This goal was Liam Lindsay’s sixth in the league this season and his first of 2017.
As the remaining minutes of the game dwindled, the Jags took advantage of their last two available substitutes. Steven Lawless and Ade Azeez came on for Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan.
In the closing minutes Hearts were unable to create anything. Thistle conjured up a couple of half chances but nothing came of them and the game ended 2-0. The Jags remained in seventh spot with this win and stayed within one point of the top six. In their next game they face the team currently in sixth, Dundee. The game is on Wednesday night at Dens Park in Dundee with kick-off at 19:45.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Dumbuya (Elliott, 51’), Devine, Keown, Lindsay, Booth, Barton, Osman, Edwards, Erskine (Lawless,76’), Doolan (Azeez, 83’).
PARTICK THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Ridgers, McCarthy, Amoo, Nisbet.
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN TEAM: Hamilton, Struna, Sowah, Avlonitis, Rherras (Choulay, 80’), Nowak, Tziolis, Walker (Nicholson, 43’), Currie (Bikey, 58’), Djoum, Goncalves (S/O, 60’).
HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN SUBS (N/U): Noring, Smith, Kitchen, Martin.