SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 6 December, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
After an admirable performance midweek against the Scottish champions Alan archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk about his expectations ahead of the Jags’ clash with Kilmarnock on Saturday.
“It’s a big game for us and gives us the chance to get within two points of Kilmarnock and start having a real eye for those teams above us. All the teams have got tough games this weekend so it gives us a real chance to close the gap.
“Quality wise we can definitely be a top six side. The last time we played against Kilmarnock we were very poor – one of our worst games this season. That isn’t to take anything away from them, they were very good that day and that result probably woke us up a bit. Our performances have definitely been much better since then.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this league and if we can put a run of results together there is no reason we can’t be up there fighting for a place in the top six. To do that though you have to put a run together and win the games that matter.
“We haven’t had any horrific runs so far this season but we haven’t had any great ones either and you need that. We haven’t been able to put together back to back wins yet and that has been really frustrating.”
Having been at Kimarnock’s Scottish Cup tie against Rangers Archibald won’t have any surprises when the Ayrshire side visit Maryhill.
“I was at the game at the weekend and actually spoke to Alan Johnston the other day. Needless to say he wasn’t happy with the performance. He made a couple of changes for that game and I would expect a couple more for Saturday.
“They are on a bad run but they will take confidence from our last game against them but it will be a different Killie tomorrow.”
Having had his squad affected by a virus in the last few days does Archie have any selection problems this week?
“We’re still waiting on a couple of bodies. We obviously missed three the other night and we’re hoping to definitely have one back and perhaps two which will be a real boost. Dan should return but we’ll have to wait and see on the others.”
It was back to Firhill for Thistle after a narrow midweek defeat to champions Celtic at Parkhead.
Saturday’s opponents, Kilmarnock, were on a poor run of form having lost their previous five games and were desperately looking to stop the rot. Thistle manager, Alan Archibald, made two changes to the side that started against Celtic, with Dan Seaborne returning to the side in place of Aaron Muirhead and Christie Elliott replacing Gary Fraser who dropped to the bench after suffering from the sickness bug that has been making its way around the club.
Thistle kicked off shooting towards the North Stand but it was the visitors who had the game’s first chance when Magennis pounced on a loose piece of play in the Jags midfield. The ex-Aberdeen striker couldn’t control his left footed shot though and it went well wide and failed to trouble Gallacher.
Thistle hit back and a quick throw in found Osman who curled in a great cross into the box, Craigen did well to get in front of his man and directed a powerful header just inches over the bar. Thistle continued to probe and good link up play between Elliott and Craigen saw a pass slipped inside the box to Higginbotham but his shot was in turn blocked.
It was Stuart Bannigan who, not for the first time this season was proving the engine room for Thistle’s play and the young Jag produced a terrific pass with the outside of his foot to find Balatoni who in turn threaded a ball to Elliott who was able to send O’Donnell down the right. O’Donnell put in a great cross along the visitors six yard box but no Jags player could get a touch.
After a frantic first 10 minutes, in the 11th minute, Thistle went a goal behind. Carroll lost the ball 25 yards from his own goal and Magennis gratefully took control and fired a great cross into the box to Miller who saw his effort brilliantly saved by Gallacher. Unfortunately the Jags’ keeper was helpless to prevent Obadeyi tapping home the rebound from a couple of yards out to make it 1-0.
There was nearly a second as Carroll was caught out of position and, when the cross came in, it was Miller again who forced a good save from the Jags’ keeper.
Despite the Killie chances it was not long before the Jags were level. In the 18th minute a terrific O’Donnell run was cynically halted as he was about to go into the visitors box. Bannigan flighted in a perfect cross from the set piece and Seaborne lost his man to head home his first goal for the Jags and make it 1-1.
From there the game became bogged down in midfield and was not helped by some very fussy officiating from the referee which irritated players and fans alike on both sides.
Thistle were getting some joy down the right hand side though and O’Donnell found Bannigan whose cross was cleared as far as Carroll 25 yards out but he blazed his shot well over. Bannigan then saw his dipping free kick tipped over by a surprised Samson while, just on half time, a Kilmarnock free kick to the back post caused the Jags defence some problems but they were eventually able to clear their lines.
Into the second half and a great ball from Stevenson found Higginbotham who cut inside but his curling effort was well over. Another dangerous Bannigan free kick found the head of Osman and his effort touched the bar on its way over but the referee had spotted an infringement in the box and awarded a free kick.
Sensing the fans’ building frustration Balatoni then took matters into his own hands, going on a powerful driving run from his own half, beating three players but, just as he got into the box, the ball was cleared.
Again the game became bogged down, with the visitors seemingly content to sit and play for a draw and Thistle unable to get in behind their defence – a sense that the game was destined for a draw was growing.
The visitors’ substitute, Johnston, was perhaps a shade fortunate not to land himself in trouble when he had a petulant kick out at Elliott on the touchline. Luckily for him it was not seen by the officials and Kilmarnock broke quickly with Obadeyi seeing his shot saved by Gallacher.
Substitute, Gary Fraser, then saw his 30 yard free kick go miles wide of the target but the final chance of the game would fall to his midfield partner, James Craigen. In the 86th minute a great knockdown from Doolan found Craigen whose left foot shot took a slight deflection and went an inch wide with Samson beaten.
From there the game fizzled out into a 1-1 draw. To be brutally honest the second half was a turgid affair with neither side looking likely to create a clear goal scoring opportunity. All in all a 1-1 draw was probably about right – although obviously Thistle shaded it!
Thistle team: Gallacher, O’Donnell, Seaborne, Balatoni, Carroll, Craigen, Osman Bannigan, Higginbotham, Elliott, Stevenson
Subs: Fox, Doolan (Stevenson, 76), Fraser (Carroll, 59), Lawless (Higginbotham, 69), Wilson, Lindsay, McDaid
No match reaction.