SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 15 August, 2015. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
Manager, Alan Archibald, was hoping to take the positives from the draw against Inverness into Saturday’s tough fixture against Kilmarnock.
“There were a lot of positives to take from Wednesday night. We created a lot of chances and good situations but we weren’t clinical enough. We had a couple of three V two’s where we picked the wrong option. The goalkeeper made a couple of good saves but it was more pleasing in the final third. We just need to get that goal which will hopefully kick us on.”
Thistle’s attacking options have changed throughout the opening games of the season but Archie is confident it won’t disrupt the team’s attacking play.
“It didn’t show on Wednesday. Kris Doolan came on early on, usually a difficult thing to do, and he did really well. A lot of our forward play came from the focal point of Dools. We have to use our full squad, we did it last year and we’ll aim to do the same this year.“
Thistle have recorded two clean sheets from the opening three games and Alan is pleased with how his defence has been playing to start the season.
“We had a lot of clean sheets last year, it was something we had improved on from our first season in the Premiership. We’re delighted with it and it’s great for Tomas Cerny. He’s come in and played a massive part in our defensive solidity. We had to get a goalkeeper in and his form shows how vital it was to get him in early.
“Jack was unlucky to miss out on Wednesday as we opted for a bit more experience in Freddie which was a good decision as he helped Liam through the game. Inverness are a hard team to play against with their movement, and Liam is learning all the time. He’s doing the right things and we’ll never discourage him from passing the ball.”
Archibald has mixed team news to deal with in the build up to the game.
“Mathias Pogba has only strained his hamstring which I’m delighted with. Physios are always wary of them but we’ll give him the best chance we can to make it.
“It’s disappointing to learn that Christie is out for between 12 and 20 weeks. He’s such a vital player for us because he can cover four or five positions on the pitch. His versatility is incredibly useful for a manager to have and it’s a blow. We’ll now need to move into the transfer market to find someone to cover for him.”
Thistle returned to Firhill for the fourth game of the Ladbroke Premiership season with Jags fans still waiting for the team to score the first goal of the campaign. Manager Alan Archibald was hopeful that his creative forward players would be able to find a bit of form and claim the first three points of the young season.
He was enforced into two changes as injury denied him the services of Mathias Pogba, who left the Inverness game in its infancy, while Abdul Osman wasn’t able to shake off a knock picked up in the later stages of the contest. Kris Doolan came into the starting line up, while Ryan Stevenson lined up in his usual number 10 role.
This showed urgency right from the very start of the game and set about trying to break the deadlock early on. Frans was first to threaten with a flick from a free kick but it wasn’t long before Thistle opened the scoring.
High pressing from Thistle saw Doolan beat Ashcroft to a loose ball. A nimble touch took him past Connolly before he fired past MacDonald to open the scoring. Thistle continued to have the better of the game with Doolan once again in the thick of the action. Stevenson flighted in a free kick which dropped to Welsh. His shot was blocked by Hamill before falling to Doolan who curls a shot off the post.
Steven Lawless was the next to try his luck, curling a shot inches wide of MacDonald’s goal. Thistle’s dominance continued but despite the best efforts of the forward players, a second goal could not be found and they were made to pay for it on 37 minutes. Magennis had come close with a previous effort from inside the box, forcing Cerny to make a tremendous stop. He was fouled by Lindsay on the half way line, and with the Thistle players waiting for a yellow card for the defender, the free kick was taken quickly finding MacKenzie in acres of space before slotting past the helpless Cerny.
Thistle were fortunate not to go in behind as Magennis got clear of Lindsay and forced a good stop by the goalkeeper.
Kilmarnock started the second half stronger and Higginbotham was unlucky to see a shot go just wide of target after Cerny had blocked a Magennis drive.
The game swung in favour of Kilmarnock when Liam Lindsay earned a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. He stood on the ball, allowing Mark O’Hara to drive ahead of him resulting in the defender pulling him down 25 yards from goal. Higginbotham’s resulting free kick was fired straight at Tomas Cerny.
With a mans advantage the majority of the 3,600 crowd thought Kilmarnock might go on to seize the initative but it was Thistle who had the better of the chances. Fraser got on the end of a cross ball, turning in the box before smashing the bar with his shot. Miller was continuing to provide a valuable outlet on the right hand side and fired over a free kick which went out for a corner kick. From the resulting corner, the ball was worked back to Gary Fraser, his cross found Doolan onside at the back post. A composed touch from the striker was followed by a thunderous shot and Doolan had netted goal number 77 of his Thistle career.
It was a lead Thistle could only hang onto for seven minutes. A corner was cleared back in the direction of Higginbotham who swung over an excellent cross for Boyd to header at the back post and bring Kilmarnock back on level terms.
Thistle had one last chance to retake the lead as Seaborne got his head to a corner but MacDonald was more than equal to the effort and Thistle had to share a point with Kilmarnock, in a match that they dominated for the first 35 minutes.
With Thistle having just completed a pulsating Ladbrokes Premiership tie against Kilmarnock, which ultimately finished 2-2, Alan Archibald was understandably disappointed not to have come away with all three points after a first half which was entirely dominated by the team in red and yellow.
“I thought we were outstanding in the first half and created three or four really good chances. We haven’t really been creating a lot of clear opportunities in front of goal so, to have made so many, it was disappointing not to have had the game put to bed by half time.
“Even when we lost a man we knew we were at home and wanted to go and win it. We felt we were the better side. We dominated possession and created some really good chances so we have to be pleased with that.”
Kilmarnock’s first equaliser came after a Liam Lindsay foul on the half way line.
“I thought it was an intelligent foul from Liam given how they were breaking. I think it’s maybe just a bit of naivety from us. Liam should be standing in front of that ball straight away and stopping them from taking that early free kick. Game management like that is something we need to be aware of, especially when we have a younger squad. We’ll take it on board and move on.
”Despite not taking all three points, Archibald was pleased with his side’s performance. “We are delighted with the boys, It’s the first game we’ve dominated from the start and the players worked really hard for us. We lost a creative player in Steven Lawless early in the second half but we had a number of chances and we just needto be more clinical.”