SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 27 August, 2016. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
Thistle face another tough match as the visit of Hearts to Firhill brings to a close the action for August. Manager Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk shortly after training on Friday to give his thoughts on the game.
“It’ll be another very tough match for us. We know the quality that Hearts have in their squad. They’ve strengthened well during the summer and it will be another difficult Premiership game.
“Last season Hearts cruised in all three games against us last season, getting three victories against us and we’ll be looking to get one back on them. We know our record against the top teams has to improve in order to give us the chance to achieve what we want to this season.”
With plenty of positives to take from last week’s narrow defeat to Aberdeen, Archie is looking for his side to continue their improvement.
Last week against Aberdeen we were good. It was a moment of quality and a defensive mistake which cost us taking something from the game. We are looking for the boys to continue that level of performance and we’ll hope to cut out the mistakes to give ourselves the best chance of winning the game.
“There is very little amongst a lot of the teams in this league and we are looking to test ourselves against one of the sides predicted to finish higher in the division. It’ll be a very tricky game and we know that we’ll have to keep it tight at the back to give us the opportunity to win the game as it enters the later stages.”
There will be one enforced change with the suspension of Sean Welsh, something which will give the manager a selection headache.
“We’ve lost Sean for this game as a result of his red card and it leaves us a little bit short with Stuart Bannigan and Gary Fraser both out through injury. David Wilson played a number of games for us in the Betfred Cup so we know he is match sharp if called upon but we have a number of options for who we can play in midfield for the side.”
Finally, the manager brought us up to date with his injury news for the clash with the Edinburgh side.
“We’re looking pretty good in terms of numbers now, compared to what we were a few weeks ago. The only players missing are the long term ones in Bannigan, Dumbuya and Fraser. During the week Christie Elliott came through 90 minutes for the development squad which will have helped him a lot as he continues his progress to full fitness.”
Partick Thistle 1-2 Hearts
After missing week two of the Ladbrokes Premiership season, Partick Thistle returned to action against Aberdeen. The Dons picked up the victory at Pittodrie, beating the Jags 2-1. However, there were positives to be taken from the loss and the scoreline definitely doesn’t tell the full story. The visitors were coming off the back of an incredible 5-1 win away at Inverness which gave the Edinburgh side their first win of the season and left them fifth in the table.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side that played against the Dons last Saturday. Sean Welsh was suspended for the game after picking up a red card at Pittodrie. David Amoo also dropped out of the starting line-up. They were replaced by Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan who both missed out on starting berths in the Granite City.
Tony Watt was the man to get the game underway as Thistle attacked the goal in front of the North Stand. The man who kicked the match off was also the man to get the first chance. Seven minutes in, Watt found himself in possession at the edge of the box. His first shot couldn’t find its way through a selection of bodies, the ball fell back to the ex-Celtic man but his second attempted was blocked once again and Ryan Edwards cleared the ball.
It was Hearts controlling the play in the early minutes as they managed to keep Thistle’s most creative players quiet for the most part. Around 10 minutes in the men in red and yellow began to pick up the pace. Ade Azeez collected the ball and ran past his marker towards the by-line. He saw Chris Erskine at the back post but his attempted cross was over hit and went out for a throw.
As the Jags began to get to grips with the game, Chris Erskine laid the ball off for Kris Doolan on the edge of the box but Jack Hamilton made the low save. The Jags continued to improve throughout the first half. The increased pressure almost paid off as Ade Azeez and Kris Doolan had shots blocked consecutively after Ziggy Gordon won the ball back on the right flank.
Despite showing signs of improvement, it was the side from Edinburgh who broke the deadlock. Around 16 minutes in, a blocked effort from Conor Sammon lead to a Jambos corner. Sam Nicholson went over to take the set-piece and whipped it towards the back post. Callum Paterson rose highest and headed the ball past Tomas Cerny to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to kill the flow of the game as play slowed down significantly the the Hearts opener. The Jambos almost doubled their lead when another headed effort had to be blocked by Abdul Osman before Cerny came out and collected.
The next big chance of the game fell to Kris Doolan. He received the ball via a dinked pass from Steven Lawless and took the ball down well. His effort was, however, tame and saved easily by Hamilton.
The final chance of the half came from the Hearts captain Don Cowie. The midfielder picked up the ball, turned and shot but his attempt soared well over the bar.
The score was 1-0 at half-time and Thistle had the right to be disappointed. The Jags had created a selection of decent chances but hadn’t been able to beat Jack Hamilton. Hearts’ slight aerial advantage had proved crucial as they had scored with a header. Alan Archibald would have been looking for more of the same from his side only with a bit more cutting edge.
Kris Doolan was the man to start the second half. Chris Erskine was showing flashes of excellence as he used his skill to bypass two opposition defenders before winning a corner. Erskine would go on to take the corner as well. He crossed the ball into the area where it was met by Liam Lindsay. The big centre-half saw his effort hit the underside of the bar and it appeared to cross the line. At first it was it was difficult to tell whether the original effort had crossed the line as Danny Devine bundled the ball home to make sure but the players’ reaction said it all and the goal was rightly awarded to Lindsay who grabbed his first ever league goal at Firhill.
The equalising goal gave Thistle a new impetus that had been absent previously. Kris Doolan had a chance to put the home side ahead but he stalled for too long and his shot was blocked by Faycal Rherras.
As the second half wore on Hearts came back into it. Cerny was forced into a good couple of saves which he dealt with well and four minutes later, Bjorn Johnsen found space inside the box but his curled attempt sailed well over Cerny’s goal.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Kris Doolan made way for Mathias Pogba after Ade Azeez was replaced by David Amoo. Pogba almost got on the end of a Callum Booth cross but Jambos ‘keeper, Jack Hamilton, denied the striker a tap-in.
Unfortunately for Thistle, all their hard work would come undone in the dying seconds of normal time. A scramble in the Jags’ box led to Tomas Cerny punching the ball away but, as Abdul Osman looked to clear further up the pitch, his kick ricocheted off Perry Kitchen and landed perfectly for Tony Watt. The man on-loan from Charlton took the ball past his man and blasted it towards goal from a tight angle. The ball seemed to take a nick on the way past Cerny as it flew into the back of the net.
The goal sent the travelling 2,045 Hearts fans into delirium as Watt gave the visitors the lead once again. Alan Archibald’s men were unable to muster up any meaningful chances as proceedings came to a close and the game finished 2-1.
On a day where neither team really dominated, the Jags might feel as if they deserved something out of the match. If the home team had taken their chances more clinically then the three points may well have been staying in Maryhill, however, as it happens Thistle’s winless run against Hearts is extended to five games and the Jags find themselves in eleventh place albeit in an embryonic Ladbrokes premiership table.
Thistle’s next match comes against St. Johnstone Firhill on the 10th of September.
Thistle team: Cerny, Booth, Devine, Lindsay, Gordon, Osman, Edwards, Lawless, Erskine, Azeez (Amoo, 69), Doolan (Pogba, 77)
histle subs (N/U): Scully, Elliott, Wilson, McDaid, Syme
Hearts team: Hamilton, Paterson, Rossi, Souttar, Rherras, Kitchen, Cowie, Djoum, Nicholson (Walker, 59), Sammon (Johnsen, 59), Watt (Smith, 92)
Hearts subs (N/U): Noring, Ozturk, Buaben, Muirhead
It was late heartbreak for Thistle in today’s Ladbrokes Premiership game against Hearts. Tony Watt scoring a 90th minute winner for the visitors to snatch all three points. It was a difficult one for the Jags to take but a dejected Alan Archibald still spoke to ptfc.co.uk post-match.
He thought the result was unfair on his men.
“I think it was harsh, I thought a draw would have been a fair result. We put enough into the game to deserve at least a point.”
Despite the loss, the manager knows that there are positives to be taken from the match.
“I was disappointed with the goal we lost at the end because I thought we looked comfortable defensively and I didn’t think they cut us open in the second half. If anything, at points we looked more likely to grab a winner.”
However, Archie wasn’t happy with the way Hearts scored their first goal – particularly given as it was another conceded from a set piece.
“Liam Lindsay was marking Paterson and he has to get tight to him which he did in the second half. He’ll learn to always stay tight with experience and thankfully he made up for it with a great header for the goal from our point of view.”
The gaffer was happy with his defensive pairing’s overall performance And was quick to praise young centre back Liam Lindsay who showed character to bounce back from a costly error in Aberdeen last week.
“On the ball I thought Liam was a bit shaky but defensively he looked good. Him and Danny Devine coped really well against a great attacking team who were good even with the changes they made.”
The upcoming international break gives some of the club’s side-lined players a chance to focus on recovering and Alan Archibald gave us an update on some of those players.
“Gary Fraser will hopefully not be too far away by the time we get back to games. If his rehab goes to plan he should be back in three weeks or so. Bannigan and Dumbaya are obviously more long term.”
The boss was keen to stress that two narrow losses against two of the top three from last season’s Premiership is not the end of the world.
“There are a lot of positives to take and we’ve got a big month coming up. In September we play more of the teams from around about us. They’re massive games for us and we need to learn from these matches. I think one thing we have learnt is we need to be clinical.
“In the last two games we’ve been up against top sides who’ve been clinical against us and to be competitive we need to take our chances.”