SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 31 December, 2016. Kick Off: - 14:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
Having seen his side shoot up the table from bottom to sixth in the space of a week, Alan Archibald was quite rightly in a buoyant mood when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of Saturday’s clash with Kilmarnock.
He said: “What a difference a week makes! We had two tough games but we came away with six massive points and we’re delighted with that. We’ve had a lot of games this month and have played the very best teams that this league has to offer, but we’ve come through it strongly. We’ve had some really good performances and have come away without any major injury concerns, which is a big bonus.
“Liam Lindsay had to go off after he took a bang to the face on Wednesday night – he got a bang there last week too so it was a bit of a re-occurrence of that. We’ll assess him in the run up to the Killie game and take it from there.”
Thistle’s spell at the bottom of the league was well publicised but back to back wins have made the table look much more favourable for the Maryhill men. There’s no room for complacency in Archibald’s approach though, particularly given how tight the league remains going into the New Year.
“The way our fixtures panned out this year has meant we have had a couple of runs of really tough fixtures which didn’t help with our position earlier in the season. A couple of back to back wins makes a massive difference though and you can see that in the league table.
“The whole team is going into Saturday with a much greater level of confidence but we certainly won’t be getting complacent because we know that if we don’t win and other teams do then that points gap will evaporate very quickly. There’s a huge incentive for us to open up a gap on those underneath us. It’s a really key period for us but we’re at home and the onus is very much on us to go and get the three points.
“We’ve tried to keep the mentality of the boys good, even when the results weren’t coming. We have played well and probably haven’t got the results that those performances have deserved at times.”
Thistle managed to keep a clean sheet against Dundee in midweek – the team’s first shutout since October when they beat the same opposition by the same scoreline.
“We were really pleased with the clean sheet because it was well deserved and we worked hard to remain resilient right until the last minute. I think we probably deserved a clean sheet up in Dingwall but conceded in the later stages of the game, but Wednesday will be a big confidence boost to the defence and goalkeeper who definitely deserved it.
“The squad are in a good place just now and we’ll be taking everything we can into the game against Kilmarnock. They obviously had a disappointing result in the week but we know that they can be a good side so we’ll need to be at our very best to take all three points. Our performances have been good recently and now the results are starting to come too, we want to keep that going so there will be no complacency here.”
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Thistle don't finish 2016 on the high they were looking for as they are held to a goalless draw by Kilmarnock.
Thistle had by far and way the better of the first half but the second half was a much more even affair with Kimarnock pushing Thistle onto the back foot at times and spurning a couple of good chances.
Thistle could still go into the winter break in the top six but with Ross County currently leading Inverness 2-1 they look set to drop to 7th.
Amoo's cross goes out for a goal kick.
Cerny makes a good stop to push the ball over the bar.
Minimum of 3 minutes to be played.
Thistle throw down by the Kilmarnock cofrner flag.
Man of the Match: Adam Barton.
Coulibaly's shot doesn't trouble Cerny.
Final Thistle change. McDaid on for Erskine.
Azeez nearly manages to cut the ball cross goal but Macdonald just grabs hold of the ball.
There is a real chance for Coulibaly at the corner but his header goes wide.
Bojaj shot takes a deflection.
Thistle free kick on the right hand side.
Azeez comes on for Edwards.
Jones' shot spins off a Thistle defender but Cerny is able to prevent the corner.
Devine blocks a Frizzell cross but Thistle can't get the ball clear and Cerny is forced to push away another Frizzell cross.
Edwards' cross is just too high for Doolan. The ball breaks to Amoo and his cross is blocked by a defender.
Thistle clear the free kick and try and break but Erskine is held up by two defenders at the halfway line.
Kilmarnock free kick as they push men into the box.
First change for Thistle as Amoo replaces Lawless.
Nearly a goal for kilmarnock. Coulibaly nods on and a stretching Bojaj knocks the ball over the bar.
Jones on for Tyson.
It's a poor one from Welsh and cleared.
Thistle free kick in from the left touchline.
Erskine's near post corner is poor and is cleared.
The free kick isn't a bad one but is cleared. Thistle though retain possession of the ball and there is nearly a chance for Lawless but he is crowded out when trying to find room for a shot.
Another thistle free kick. this time in a wider position.
Thistle free kick deep inside the Killie half but it is a poor one and is headed clear.
For the second time this afternoon Doolan has the ball in the net and for the second time he is denied a goal by a raised flag for offside. To be fair the flag was up this time well before the ball was in the net.
Hawkshaw is replaced by Frizzell.
Excellent defending from Osman.
Welsh makes a well judged challenge at the edge of the thistle box to prevent Hawksshaw from getting a shooting chance.
Tyson has a shot for Kilmarnock but it drifts well away from the Thistle goal.
Booth drills a cross off a defender earning Thistle a throw.
It's goalless at the break with Thistle the better side in tricky conditions.
It was nearly a dream start for Thistle with Doolan having the ball in the net barely a miniute in but his effort was ruled out for offside.
For a spell it looked as if Thistle would blow Kilmarnock away and Macdonald made a good stop to deny Doolan.
Gradually Kilmarnock settled and Cerny had to make a smart save to palm away an effort from Hawkshaw.
It was Thistle though that finished the half firmly on the front foot. Barton saw a long range shot saved and Ers,kine couldn't force the ball home after Macdonald had saved a Doolan effort.
Minimum of 1 minute additional time to be played.
Adams collects a yellow card.
Booth is booked.
The pressure eases on Kilmarnock as the referee spots a foul at the edge of the box as Welsh's corner comes over.
Doolan's shot is saved and Erskine can't force home the loose ball as it is deflected wide for a corner. .
Doolan and Erskine nearly combine to open up the Killie defence but settle for a corner.
Barton shoots from fully 30 yards out but it too straight to trouble Macdonald who gets his body right behind the ball and makes a clean stop.
Lawless has his jersey pulled but on the referee's b;lind side so there is no free kick.
Cerny gets a firm punch to the ball but is adjudged to have been fouled in any case.
Thistle protest but Killie corner it is.
It takes some good defending to get the free kick clear.
Killie will have a chance to get the ball into the box as Coulibaly is fouled about 35 yards out.
Erskine's pass is too strong to pick out Lawless' late run into the Killie box.
First chance for Kilmarnock as Cerny is forced into palming away Hawkshaw's effort from the edge of the box.
Kilmarnock just about clear welsh's near post corner.
Edwards' shoit hits off a defender.
Kilmarnock look to have settled after that early burst of Thistle pressure. The last few minutes have been much more even.
Thistle force Macdonald into action again. Edwards sets up Doolan and Macdonald needs two attempts to grab hold of the ball with erskine lurking looking for the rebound.
It's two decent coprners from Welsh. The first reaches Devine whose header hits off a defender for a second goal which this time goes slighly behind Devine.
Erskine clips the heels of Taylor as he attempts to collect a Doolan pass and a promising Thistle attack is halted.
Nearly a dream start for Thistle as they have the ball in the net. Macdonald can't hold Erskine's shot, Lawless gathers the loose ball and square for Doolan who knocks the ball home but the flag goes up for offside.
Kilmarnock kick the game off. Thistle are shooting towards a noisy North stand in the first half.
As they aim to finish 2016 on a real positive note Thistle make just the one change to the side that defeated Dundee.
Liam Lindsay hasn't recovered from the knock he received just before half-time against Dundee and Stevie Lawless steps into the starting eleven in a move that is likely to mean a change in shape for The Jags.
On the bench there is a place for young midfielder Andrew McCarthy.
After two consecutive victories, against Ross County and Dundee, Partick Thistle would look to make it three on the bounce against Kilmarnock at Firhill on New Year’s Eve. The Jags had climbed into the top six with their win in midweek and Thistle knew that a win would keep them there heading into the winter break.
Alan Archibald made one change from the side who faced Dundee on Wednesday and it was a forced one. Liam Lindsay, who was substituted at half-time against the Dees, couldn’t make the squad for today’s game. He was replaced by Steven Lawless who scored Thistle’s first goal the last time the teams met in September. Due to this change, the team reverted to a flat back four.
Kilmarnock kicked things off but no less than two minutes in the home side thought they had opened the scoring. Chris Erskine lost his man after a smart turn and shot towards the near post. Jamie MacDonald saved low to his left but the ball fell to Steven Lawless. The wide midfielder opted not to shoot but rather hit the ball across goal where Kris Doolan was waiting to pounce. The striker tapped home but the linesman’s flag was up and the goal was disallowed.
Doolan had another shot on the ten-minute mark. Ryan Edwards laid the ball off to the forward but when Doolan shot from 25 yards, MacDonald was able to make the save and collect the loose ball afterwards.
The travelling side had their first opportunity of the match 17 minutes in when Dean Hawkshaw was able to find space to shoot, 5 yards outside the Jags’ box. The shot was a difficult one for Cerny to deal with but the ‘keeper was able to parry the ball away from danger.
Adam Barton saw a long range effort caught safely by MacDonald eight minutes before the Jags had the best chance of the first half. The chance came when Steven Lawless was able to cleverly play Kris Doolan in behind, beating the offside trap. Doolan tried to shoot low across goal but the shot was saved, with the ball falling to Chris Erskine, 10 yards from goal. The midfielder shot but the attempt skewed wide and a corner was given.
The game was goalless at half-time with that late chance for Erskine being the only clear cut opportunity from inside the box. Thistle had looked impressive in the first 15 minutes but the game’s quality petered out as the weather conditions worsened. No changes were made at half-time.
The first chance of the second period fell to Nathan Tyson, four minutes after the restart. The ex-Doncaster man cut in from the right flank and shot from an angle. The attempt flew high and wide, nowhere near troubling Tomas Cerny in the Thistle goal.
As the game approached the hour mark the home team thought they had scored for the second time in the game. Steven Lawless found himself in space around 20 yards outside the Killie box and he tried to find Kris Doolan. The ball was headed towards an opposing defender but Doolan nipped in and stole the ball from the opponent’s toes. The ball bounced high in front of the attacker and he proceeded to header the ball past MacDonald and into the net but for the second time of the afternoon the linesman had his flag up and the goal was chalked off.
The away side came extremely close to taking the lead 67 minutes in when an over-the-top ball found Souleymane Coulibaly who had found his way in behind his marker. The Ivorian then directed the ball back across the six-yard box where Florent Bojaj was arriving. Bojaj got to the ball but could only touch it over the bar from close range, on the stretch.
With the creative forces of the home team dwindling, Alan Archibald made two changes in the hopes that a winning goal was still to be had for his side. Steven Lawless and Ryan Edwards both came off while David Amoo and Ade Azeez were introduced adding some fresh legs to the Jags’ frontline.
Despite these changes it would be the team from Ayrshire who had the best chances in the closing minutes. Firstly, Florent Bojaj saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide by Sean Welsh. The resulting corner found Coulibaly and the number 19 headed towards the far post. Although most of the away support seemed to think he had found the corner, it flew wide of Cerny’s left stick. After this, Chris Erskine was replaced by Declan McDaid with less than five minutes to go of the game.
The final shot of the game came from Steven Smith. The Killie skipper found room for a shot just outside the Thistle box and shot for goal. The attempt was headed for the top corner but Tomas Cerny made the save.
The game ended 0-0 with the Jags unable to extend their winning run. They do, however, end December having lost just two games out of seven with both defeats coming at the hands of league leaders, Celtic. Due to other results, Partick Thistle sit seventh dropping one place below Ross County.
The team now head into the winter break with the next first team game coming against Formartine where Alan Archibald’s squad will be looking to advance into the next round of the Scottish cup. The Jags’ next league fixture is an away meeting with the Ladbrokes Premiership’s bottom club, Inverness at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
Thistle Team: Cerny, Booth, Devine, Barton, Elliott, Osman, Welsh, Lawless (Amoo, 67’), Edwards (Azeez,76’), Erskine (McDaid, 86’), Doolan.
Thistle Subs (N/U): Stuckmann, Gordon, McCarthy, Wilson.
Kilmarnock Team: MacDonald, Smith, Dicker, Wilson, Taylor, Hendrie, Hawkshaw (Frizzell, 52’), Adams, Tyson (Jones, 66’), Coulibaly, Bojaj.
Kilmarnock Subs (N/U): Mackay, Boyle, McLean, Cameron, Boyd.
Partick Thistle went from bottom of the table to top six in the space of a week and were looking to secure their tstatus in the top half going into the winter break with a win over Kilmarnock. However, unfortunately for the Firhill side, the game finished as a goalless draw leaving the team in seventh place. Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk following the game to offer his opinion on the day’s match.
Archie was impressed with his side’s play at the start of the game and thought they could have made more of their early dominance.
“We started the game well. We had the goal chalked off and had plenty of play in their half. We just didn’t work the goalkeeper enough, we should have been a bit more penetrative in the final third. To be fair to them they defended really well but, considering their result in midweek, we were expecting that.”
The big talking points of the match were the two Kris Doolan goals that were disallowed as Doolan was adjudged to have been offside.
“I haven’t had the chance to see them back yet but the first one he was definitely offside. For the second one, he seemed in line. It’s the kind of decision that sometimes you’ll get but sometimes you won’t but it is very close in fairness to the officials.”
The Jags’ manager was disappointed with the way that his side faded in the second half, despite difficult conditions.
“I didn’t think there was enough in the second half, we were looking a bit tired. It’s been a tough set of fixtures and the games have taken their toll on the players. The weather didn’t help us either.”
The gaffer was, however, very happy with how his team has performed over the holiday period, picking up seven points from a possible nine.
“This time last week we were bottom of the table so we’re delighted with where we are. It’s given us a platform to go ahead and build on in the new year. We have to remember that it’s still ever so tight and I think it’ll probably stay that way. It’s important that we recharge fully and prepare fully for the second half of the campaign.”
Thistle’s next game comes on the 21st of January against Formartine United in the Scottish Cup fourth round and the first League game of the new year comes away at Inverness as Thistle look to build on their recent form.
A more in depth video interview with Alan Archibald is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Sean Welsh And Daniel Devine. Log in now to see it as soon as it is available. Jagzone members will also be able to watch highlights of the game from midnight tonight.
For a full list of all the great content you can access from just £5.99 per month as a Jagzone member, click here.