SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 24 September, 2016. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
Following last week’s draw against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park everyone is looking to get back to winning ways when Motherwell visit Firhill on Saturday. Nobody is keener for the three points than thistle boss, Alan Archibald, who spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of Saturday’s match.
“It was tough not to come away from Kilmarnock with all three points last week if I’m being honest. It’s difficult because if you’re looking at the way the match panned out on paper we were behind twice and it probably looked like a different kind of game, but we created chances and limited them too. That’s football though and we have to take the positives into Saturday and continue fighting hard for that next win.”
Jags skipper, Abdul Osman, misses Saturday’s clash following the red card he received at Rugby Park. In previous seasons this might have been more of an issue for Archie’s side but the gaffer is now confident that he has the personnel to cover.
“I think we used to panic a wee bit when Abdul wasn’t available but now we definitely have options in that area. We have Sean Welsh who was on the bench last week, and we also have Adam Barton who joined at the end of the transfer window but hasn’t featured yet. On top of those two Ryan Edwards can play there as well and I thought he was excellent last week, his energy really gives us a platform to go and play.”
It hasn’t escaped Archibald’s notice that, in Louis Moult, Motherwell have a striker in top form. However, despite Moult’s seven goals in just three games for the Steelmen this season, Archie doesn’t want to focus too much on just the one goal threat.
“Louis is clearly in great form – I think his goal tally for this term shows that – but it’s important that we don’t focus too much on just him and take our eyes off the other threats that Motherwell have like Scott McDonald and the new lad Bowman. Their front three was probably the difference between them getting into the top six and us missing out last season so we all know the threat they carry.
“We have our own threat too and we know we can go and hurt teams – we showed that in spells against Killie last week – but the point we earned on Saturday only becomes a good one if we win at Firhill this week. We’ve had two disappointing results at home now and the focus is getting back to winning ways on Saturday. Our home form is going to be ever so important for us this season and all that has to start now.”
Finally, the gaffer gave us a rundown of player availability.
“To be fair we’ve got a good group to pick from this week. Obviously Abdul is out because of his red card on Saturday and Erskine picked up a small knock in training but he should be fine.
“Tomas Cerny has been a concern because of the reoccurrence of his foot injury so we’ve taken the decision to give him three to four weeks of pure rehab and let him strengthen all the muscles in that area as much as possible. We’ll continue to assess him all the time and hopefully see where we are at the end of that period. Other than that we are just missing the long terms ones, Gary Fraser, Mustapha Dumbuya and Stuart Bannigan.”
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There is applause from the Thistle fans at the finish which tells its own story on how the 90 minutes went.
That story is one of an excellent Thistle performance which deserved better than just a solitary point.
Chris Erskine seized upon a misjudged pass back to give Thistle a half-time lead a lead that they really should have added to during a second half when they played some excellent, flowing football.
At times Motherwell couldn't handle the pace and directness of Ade Azeez but he could just not find the back of the net. Four times he looked set to score but either shot wide or was denied by the hard worked Samson in the Motherwell goal.
The fragility of a one goal lead was clear to see when Motherwell thought they had equalised after 62 minutes only for an offside flag to halt McDonald's and Motherwell's celebrations before they could really get underway.
There was, however, no reprieve for Thistle when McDonald again found the net with 8 minutes of a pulsating game remaining.
Motherwell could even have snatched a win that they wouldn't have merited with Scully making saves from Bowman and Cadden.
Overall this was excellent entertainment but the overriding feeling in the Thistle camp right now is one of disappointment that they performance didn't earn the three points it deserved
Scully makes an excellent one handed save to push away Cadden's effort.
A half volley from Doolan is straight at Samson.
Minimum of 3 minutes additional time to be played.
Thistle have a free kick when the referee spots some pushing at the corner.
Scully scrambles Bowman's header round the post.
Edwards is caught in two minds between shooting and crossing and ends up sending the ball out of play.
This time it is Welsh that is fouled as Thistle try and launch a counter attack.
Amoo is building up a head of speed but is fouled just inside the Motherwell half.
You would not be surprised if there was at least one more goal to follow this afternoon.
Tait knocks the ball on to McDonald and this time the offside flag doesn't come to Thistle's rescue.
Welsh pushes the ball through to Azeez whose shot is pushed away by Samson.
Bowman goes to ground very easily but wins Motherwell a free kick on the right touchline.
This game is a cracking advert for Premiership football.
There is another almighty scramble inside the Thistle box before the ball is eventually knocked behind for a goal kick.
Thistle just survive after Scully doesn't make a clean catch.
Edwards' shot from fully 30 yards out is only just off target as Thistle still search for what would be a richly deserved second goal.
Some excellent build up play from Thistle but all they earn is a throw in.
Welsh's late run into the box allows him to meet Amoo's cross from the right but he is under pressure and off balance and his shot goes wide.
Lawless' corner finds the head of Lindsay but he can't keep the header down and it goes over the bar.
The free kick drops to Lindsay but his effort flies straight into the arms of Samson.
Azeez is fouled close to right hand touchline. It's a chance for Thistle to get the ball into the box.
It's not third time lucky for Azeez as his shot after a Lawless assist is blocked by Samson with nobody able to force the loose ball home. There are appeals for a Thistle penalty for a foul on Azeez that go unheard.
Motherwell think they have equalised when McDonald nods the ball home at the back post but the flag goes up for offside halting the Motherwell celebrations.
Excellent defending from Devine and then a confident catch from Scully snuffs out the danger of a Motherwell attack. .
Azeez is having no luck at all. He is running the Motherwell defence ragged at times but he can't find the net. This time his angled drive after excellent play from Barton is just wide of Samson's left hand post.
The referee spots a foul as Moult wins a header inside the Thistle box. Thistle free kick.
Thistle switch off just for a split second at a free kick. McDonald is able to collect the ball inside the Thistle box but shoots over the bar after turning towards goal.
Lindsay wins the ball in the air when Erskine delivers the free kick but the flag goes up for offside.
Azeez is fouled just as he is about to push a pass through to Erskine. Thistle free kick about 40 yards from goal.
Amoo tries to squeeze a shot past Samson at his near post but the keeper is able to get down in time to save.
Great chance for Thistle to take a two goal lead. Azeez wins the ball in the air and finds Erskine. Erskine returns the ball to Azeez who has a clear run at goal but drags his shot narrowly wide.
Azeez's quick throw is collected by Erskine. Erskine manages to get his cross over but it is too deep and the ball is cleared.
Thistle get the second half underway.
Thistle have produced a good first half display and deserve their narrow lead albeit the goal was gifted to them.
Thistle started the game in a very positive fashion and dominated the first 30 minutes of the game although they were unable to turn their promising build up play into clear cut chances.
Indeed it was Motherwell, through Ryan Bowman, who nearly took the lead after 26 minutes but Ryan Scully was alive to the danger and made an important save.
Four minutes later and Thistle were in front. Hammell's misjudged pass back was seized upon by Chris Erskine who made no mistake when left with just Samson to beat.
Motherwell responded well to the loss of the goal and for the first time in the game they were able to pose Thistle more than just isolated problems. Thistle too remained a threat up to half-time.
Motherwell's first corner.
Erskine's corner nearly falls for Devine.
Elliott's cross spins off a defender.
Minimum of 2 additional minutes to be played.
McDonald puts in a great ball to the Thistle back post but Thistle defend it well before a Clay shot is blocked by a defender's leg.
Erskine chips the free kick in for Barton but the ball is headed clear. Edwards though gathers the ball outside the box but his shot doesn't threaten the Motherwell goal.
Thistle free kick about 35 yards from goal in a central position.
Lasley aims a cross to the back post and Moult but the presence of Gordon and Devine is enough to prevent the Motherwell striker from reaching the ball.
Amoo's cross is a shade too high for Barton.
Motherwell have seen much more of the ball since falling behind.
No free kick for McDonald who throws himself to the ground.
That comes out of the blue but it is no less deserved for that. Erskine is presented with a chance right in front of goal and he makes no mistake knocking the ball past Samson.
Bowman gets the better of Lindsay inside the box. Just for a second it looks as if he has a real chance but Scully is quickly off his line to firstly block and then gather the loose ball.
Clay gets past Gordon but can't find a team mate with his cross.
Hammell floats the free kick towards the back post. Twice a Motherwell head gets to the ball before Barton clears.
Motherwell have a free kick about 35 yards from the thistle goal close to the left corner of the box.
Azeez does well to get a cross over from the left but he can't get the ball beyond the reach of Samson.
Erskine's route towards goal is halted by a well timed challenge from Heneghan.
Motherwell pose a threat down the right but when the cross comes in Scully is able to collect the ball low near his front post.
Lawless flicks the ball on but it won't drop for Erskine. Still Thistle on top.
The corner just won't fall for a Thistle player.
Elliott wins Thistle a corner
Break in play while Devine receives a spot of treatment.
Lawless evades a few challenges at the edge of the Motherwell box but he eventually looses control of the ball and it goes out for a goal kick.
Azeez forces Samson into a hurried clearance as Thistle continue to press in the early stages.
Amoo earns Thistle a corner that Erskine takes. It drifts out of play at the back post though.
Thistle break and Erskine has options to both his left and right. He elects to go left but his pass goes behind Azeez which allows Motherwell to clear.
First Motherwell attack but Barton is on hand to head clear.
Thistle have might a positive start to the game.
There are a number of changes to the Thistle side to face Motherwell this afternoon.
Abdul Osman's red card at Kilmarnock last Saturday was always going to rule him out of this fixture and his place in the side looks to be going to Adam Barton who will make his Thistle debut this afternoon. In Osman's absence it is Danny Devine that takes the captain's armband.
Making his first start of the season is Christie Elliott who looks set to fill the left back role with Callum Booth missing.
One other change sees Ade Azeez get the nod to start ahead of Kris Doolan.
Partick Thistle sat bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership coming into their sixth game of the campaign and faced Motherwell as they looked for their first win since the opening game of the season. The visitors were coming off the back of a 4-2 victory over Hamilton with ‘Well top scorer Louis Moult grabbing four goals.
There were three changes to the Thistle team that drew with Kilmarnock last week. Callum Booth was unable to play due to illness, Abdul Osman was suspended after being sent off late at Rugby Park and Kris Doolan dropped to the bench as Ade Azeez was given a starting spot. With Osman absent, it was Danny Devine who led the team as captain. David Amoo made his 50th competitive appearance in the red and yellow of Partick Thistle today aswell.
The away side kicked-off the game but there was only one team in it in the opening stages. The Jags were the ones dictating play early on and the home team almost had the chance to go ahead within five minutes when Alan Archibald’s men found themselves with a three-on-two attack. Chris Erskine attempted to play in Ade Azeez but the pass was short and the danger was cleared.
Thistle continued to dominate the game as Motherwell struggled to produce any meaningful passing play. Much of that was down to Ade Azeez. The Englishman’s closing down was excellent and he was giving the visiting defenders no time to get the ball down and play from the back. His workrate almost got him a goal when ‘Well keeper Craig Samson spent slightly too long with the ball at his feet and Azeez slid in to try to block any clearance. He was inches away but Samson was able to punt the ball out for a throw-in.
Despite Thistle’s dominance, there weren’t many chances to be had. Steven Lawless almost created an opportunity all by himself 12 minutes in when he made a mazy run into the box, dodging through several challenges in the process. Unfortunately, as he to navigate past the last defender he took a heavy touch and the ball went out of play.
The Steelmen had their first chance of the game in the 28th minute as Ryan Bowman found space in behind the Jags’ defenders. The forward tried to lift the ball over Ryan Scully but the Thistle ‘keeper stood tall and made the save.
Just as Motherwell were beginning to come into the game, their progress was halted by a Thistle goal 32 minutes in. The visitors created their own problems here as a wayward back pass by Steven Hammell went between his nearest centre-half and the goalkeeper. Chris Erskine was first to the loose ball and without taking a touch, he slotted the ball home under the ‘keeper to give Thistle the lead.
Half-time came with the score at 1-0. Thistle’s lead was a deserved one with Alan Archibald’s side dominating possession. Chris Erskine was a standout performer as he so often is and Ade Azeez, with his aforementioned pressing, was playing well. Ryan Edwards had been an asset in the midfield, showing extraordinary energy in the centre of the park.
It was a rapid opening to the second half by Thistle with red and yellow jerseys streaming forward right from kick-off. In the 51st minute it should have been made 2-0. Chris Erskine slotted through Ade Azeez who had a free run on goal but his shot went wide of the far post.
David Amoo found managed to manufacture an opening for himself 54 minutes in. The winger skipped through two challenges and found himself just inside the box. He hit a low shot towards the front post which was easily stopped by Samson.
There was another decent chance for Jags frontman Ade Azeez just after the hour mark. Adam Barton ran 40 yards from inside the defensive half to the attacking third where he played in Azeez but the angle was a difficult one and the striker’s left-footed attempt went wide of Samson’s left-hand post.
One of the game’s most controversial incidents presented itself in the 63rd minute. A deep Motherwell free-kick towards the back post was headed back across goal by a ‘Well player and Scott McDonald guided a headed effort into the net. The goal was, however, chalked off for offside.
Just two minutes later, another controversial moment occurred. Ade Azeez was played in for a third time in the second half, this time by Lawless, and as he was approaching the goal a challenge came in from Motherwell defender Ben Heneghan. The centre-half clattered into the onrushing attacker and if Azeez had gone down then you would have expected a penalty to be awarded but he did his best to stay on his feet and in the end he couldn’t get a shot away.
Stand-in Captain Danny Devine had a golden opportunity with 23 minutes to go. A Chris Erskine free kick wasn’t dealt with as he whipped the ball into the box and it found Devine. The centre-back got his foot on the cross from six-yards out but his attempt was straight at the opposition ‘keeper. Not long after this, Chris Erskine was withdrawn from the match after feeling a bit of an injury and was replaced by Sean Welsh who sat in central-midfield with Edwards taking up Erskine’s number 10 role.
It would be Ryan Edwards who came close next as he hit a ferocious shot from 30 yards out. Craig Samson was scrambling across his goal as the shot seemed destined to find the top corner but it crashed off the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick. David Amoo also came close when he found himself with a chance ten yards out but his curled effort only found the hands of Samson.
Just one minute later, the home side would be made to pay for their missed chances. Richard Tait was in possession on Motherwell’s right-flank when he hit a cross into the box. Experienced striker Scott McDonald was able pull away from his marker and get on the end of the cross. He directed an excellent header into the back of the net leaving Scully with no chance.
As the game entered the final two minutes of the 90, Kris Doolan was brought on for Steven Lawless as Alan Archibald looked to reenergise the attack. Despite that, the best late chance fell to the Steelmen. Firstly, Ryan Bowman got on the end of a cross into the box. He headed downwards and Ryan Scully had to be sharp to make a good save after the ball bounced up off the turf. Also, Chris Cadden had a shot stopped by Scully as the Motherwell man shot low towards the bottom corner but the Jags’ goalie got low brilliantly to turn the ball away.
In the end the Thistle men will feel like they’ve dropped two points rather than gaining one after an exquisite first half display and a plethora of second half opportunities. It was a familiar feeling as the team’s performance deserved more out of the game than they got. Despite missing a few good chances Ade Azeez was an integral part of the Thistle team. Chris Erskine and Ryan Edwards both had impressive games in the midfield. Adam Barton’s Thistle debut was a good one as he showed great composure and calmness throughout the match. The point takes Thistle off the bottom of the table, at least until tomorrow when bottom side Hamilton take on St. Johnstone.
Alan Archibald must now start planning for next Saturday’s trip to Ibrox in Thistle’s first encounter with Rangers since 2008.
THISTLE TEAM: Scully, Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Elliott, Barton, Edwards, Amoo, Erskine (Welsh, 69), Lawless (Doolan, 89), Azeez
THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Stuckmann, Syme, Penrice, Wilson, McDaid
MOTHERWELL TEAM: Samson, Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Hammell, Lasley (Ainsworth, 79), Cadden Clay, Moult (McFadden, 71), McDonald, Bowman
MOTHERWELL SUBS (N/U): Brill, Lucas, Ferguson, Campbell, Macklin
Another positive performance without a win must have left Alan Archibald wondering what has to be done to secure that elusive second victory of the season. A Scott McDonald goal in the last ten minutes cancelled out Chris Erskine’s opener to ensure the game finished a draw. The draw means the Jags are off the foot of the table for at least a day with Hamilton yet to play this weekend. The game was one that Thistle could have had wrapped up with half an hour to go and Alan Archibald shared his view of the match with ptfc.co.uk after the game.
“I thought we controlled the first half. I was very pleased with it and we created a number of chances but at the moment we look like we need to score two goals to win a game and it’s very frustrating.”
Archie was of the opinion that the team should have been out of sight by the time Motherwell equalised.
“We had the chance just after half-time, I think that Motherwell controlled the midfield in the first ten minutes of the second-half, to be fair to them, but in that time we had two very good chances. I think if we take the first one then the game is dead and buried.”
The Jags’ boss admitted that his team may have had some luck as a goal scored by McDonald was disallowed for offside despite it looking like the striker was being played onside but also thought his side had been unfortunate with a big decision.
“Somebody mentioned that to me, that it may have been onside but we didn’t get the penalty either, when Ade Azeez was fouled. He didn’t go down; he was too honest. Unfortunately, referees don’t seem to give the foul unless the player goes down.”
Ade Azeez was one of the main men in the game for different reasons. His pressing on the Motherwell defenders was excellent throughout the game but he also passed up on a few great chances. Alan Archibald was impressed by his performance and thinks that once he grabs his first the goals will start to come more regularly.
“He just needs a goal. He needs one to just bounce in off his knee or something just to boost his confidence in front of goal. Everything else in his game was good today, he worked ever so hard, he pressed them well and a lot of his chances came through his endeavour and work rate. He just needs that lucky break.”
The Thistle manager thought his men were unlucky with the result considering their overall performance.
“You can’t control the game for 90 minutes. They’ve got good strikers but we kept them quiet for most of the match. They were full of confidence after their performance against Hamilton so they were always going to get a chance eventually but if we score that chance just after half-time then I think it relaxes everyone.”
Archibald was disappointed by the way the goal equaliser was scored.
“They had dominated for twenty minutes and at one point I thought we had ridden the storm. Unfortunately, they came back at us late on. As I’ve said before, you have to defend your box and that’s something we’re not doing well enough at the moment.”
Thistle must now begin preparation for a clash with Rangers next Saturday at Ibrox as the Jags continue their search for their first win since the opening day of the season.