SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sun 29 December, 2013. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
Thistle bring a memorable 2013 to a close with the visit of Motherwell to Firhill on Sunday December 29th. The two teams met back in August at Fir Park, with the home side running out 1-0 winners, but Sunday’s game represents Motherwell’s first visit to Firhill since December 2003 when a John Paul McBride goal gave Thistle a 1-0 victory. That win represented Thistle’s first of that particular season and with the current Thistle side still without a league win at home this season it’s to be hoped that that win ten years ago is a good omen.
Collecting maximum points against a side who made it three wins on a row with an impressive win at Aberdeen on Boxing Day is unlikely to be easy but although only a point was secured against Inverness; then, like Motherwell now, second in the league, confidence must be taken from a positive performance in that match.
[link:HOME] caught up with manager Alan Archibald after the final training session before the game and he is more than aware of the tough challenge that Motherwell will present on Sunday.
“Motherwell are a very good side. You need to give credit to Stuart McCall and the job that he has done. He lost players at the end of last season but he’s just gone out and replaced them. They had a couple of bad results a few weeks ago and those results disguise just how well they’ve been playing this season. They’ve bounced back from those results in any case and had an excellent win on Boxing Day at Aberdeen. We know that we will have to be on our game to get three points tomorrow.”
“Motherwell carry a real threat especially with John Sutton and the lad Anier but the really pleasing thing for us from the Inverness game was the fact that we kept a clean sheet in and in doing so kept a very good striker quiet. Hopefully we can do the same tomorrow. Finishing off the year with a win at home would be the icing on the cake in what has been an excellent year for us.”
Going into the game the manager has only one fresh selection worry as he reveals.
“Jordan McMillan is unwell and he’ll miss out. He came off against Inverness at half-time complaining of feeling something in his chest and he missed training today. We are fortunate that Stephen O’Donnell is available again and got 45 minutes under his belt in the Inverness match.”
“Gary Fraser is still suspended and Isaac Osbourne and Sean Welsh are obviously still injured otherwise everyone else is available for the game. Isaac still has some swelling on his ankle and he’ll have an operation on the ankle. Sean saw a specialist on Monday and he put a time scale of 4 weeks from then until he will be back.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
0 2 3 3 8
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Kris Doolan 7
Aaron Muirhead 4
Steven Lawless 3
Christie Elliott 2
Conrad Balatoni 1
Ross Forbes 1
Kallum Higginbotham 1
Stephen O’Donnell 1
Thursday December 26th 2013
Partick Thistle 0, Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
3 0 2 6 7
Scorers Season 2013-2014
John Sutton 8
Henri Anier 7
Lionel Ainsworth 3
Robert McHugh 2
Shaun Hutchinson 1
James McFadden 1
Stephen McManus 1
Craig Moore 1
Thursday December 26th 2013
Aberdeen 0, Motherwell 1
Saturday August 24th 2013
Motherwell 1, Partick Thistle 0
Motherwell: Hollis, Hammell, Ramsden, Hutchinson, McManus, McFadden, Sutton, Lasley, Francis-Angol (Vigurs), Carswell (Lawson), Anier (Kerr).
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Osbourne (Forbes), Muirhead, Balatoni, Fraser (Higginbotham), Bannigan, Craigen, Lawless, Doolan (Baird).
Motherwell: Sutton (20)
Sunday December 29th 2013
Partick Thistle v Motherwell
Referee: Steven McLean
Assistant Referees: Alan Mulvanny and Raymond Whyte
Fourth Official: John Beaton
Other Premiership Fixtures
Aberdeen v Ross County
Hibernian v Kilmarnock
Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic
St Johnstone v Dundee United
St Mirren v Hearts
2013 has been a memorable year for Partick Thistle but it ended on a real sore note with second place Motherwell recovering from the loss of the opening goal to win 5-1.
Thistle had been unfortunate not to defeat Inverness on Boxing Day and manager Alan Archibald made just one change to the team from that game. Illness ruled out Jordan McMillan and Stephen O’Donnell was drafted in to replace him.
Thistle made a positive start to the game and when they opened the scoring in the 8th minute it was deserved reward for their enterprising start to the match. It was a well crafted goal as well involving four Thistle players. Stuart Bannigan, Kris Doolan and James Craigen combined to set up Steven Lawless who steered the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Thistle’s confidence at this stage was sky high and they and Lawless were close to a second goal just three minutes after the opener. Lawless’ effort from the edge of the box looked destined for the top corner only for Twardzik to make an excellent.
Had Thistle managed to establish a two goal lead then who knows how the game would have finished but by the 21st minute they found themselves trailing.
The Motherwell equaliser arrived in the 15th minute. McFadden threaded the ball through for Motherwell captain Lasley and he shot low past Scott Fox.
Thistle did come close to regaining their lead when Kallum Higginbotham saw his effort blocked by the feet of Twardzik but it was Motherwell that took the lead when Zaine Francis-Angol cut inside from the left before finding the back of the Thistle.
Play in an entertaining game was switching quickly from end to end and Kris Doolan wasn’t too far off target with a curling shot from the edge of the box and a driven cross from Taylor-Sinclair was cleared as Thistle sought an equaliser.
In the 33rd minute Steven Lawless was fouled right on the edge of the Motherwell box with Thistle looking in vain for a penalty and Ross Forbes, on as a sub for the unwell Christie Elliott, struck the wall with the resultant free kick.
Just two minutes later Motherwell had a third goal and well on the way to maximum points. There may well have been a foul on Conrad Balatoni in the lead up to the goal but McFadden calmly lifted the ball over Scott Fox when left with just the Thistle keeper to beat.
An early second half goal and Thistle would have been right back in the game and as they had the first half, Thistle started the second 45 minute in positive fashion although Scott Fox had to make a fine stop in the opening minute of the half to keep out a McFadden effort from the edge of the box.
There were loud appeals for a Thistle penalty in the 50th minute and Ross Forbes tested Twardzik with a dipping shot from 25 yards.
Forbes though very nearly gifted Motherwell a fourth goal when he conceded possession to Anier but Piccolo was able to retrieve the situation.
Motherwell though did net a fourth goal in the 57th minute. Lionel Ainsworth finding space down the right and he placed his shot out of the reach of Scott Fox.
Thistle at this point almost totally capitulated. McFadden saw a header strike the top of the Thistle bar before John Sutton was able to profit from more negligent Thistle defending to score a fifth Motherwell goal in the 66th minute.
That ended the scoring but it could have been even worse for Thistle. Scott Fox made a fine block to prevent Ainsworth from scoring again and McFadden curled a shot just wide of Fox’s right hand post.
Defender McManus too tried to get in on the act with a shot that crept wide with 13 minutes remaining.
Thistle were by now a well beaten team and Kris Doolan wasn’t able to capitalise on a poor pass back to at least pull one goal back as an afternoon that had started so positively drew to a miserable conclusion.
Yesterday’s heavy defeat against Motherwell was a painful experience for all associated with the Club. When speaking to [link:HOME] after the game Thistle manager Alan Archibald made no attempt to gloss over what was clearly a very poor display from his team.
“I thought it was embarrassing to say the least. The second half performance just wasn’t acceptable. No matter what division you are in you can’t play like that; it could have been more at the end.”
What made the final score even more disappointing yesterday was the fact that Thistle had made such a positive start to the game. Said Alan;
“We started the game really well, we worked really hard and started the game in their half. We created a really good chance for the goal and we had a couple of opportunities for another goal after that and got into good positions but took the wrong option or made the wrong decision; that’s something that has been killing us all season. The other side of that coin is that Motherwell were able to capitalise on our mistakes by taking the right option more often than not.”
The manager continued;
“In the second half we left ourselves wide open. I know we were having a go, we said to the lads at half-time that we would be as well having a go, but you still need to keep your shape. We did start the second half well and had we pulled a goal back we would have been back in the game but we conceded a goal after we gave the ball away in an important area of the pitch. Teams don’t tend to simply give goals away but that’s what we’ve been doing recently. All the goals we lost today were the result of defensive errors where we got into the wrong position or made the wrong pass. It is difficult to comprehend where that came from after playing so well against Inverness when we kept a clean sheet, our first since the opening day of the season.”
Alan was able to clear up the reason why he substituted Christie Elliott midway through the first half.
“It wasn’t a tactical decision. We took Christie off because he was unwell. It was the same thing that Jordan McMillan had and had to be substituted against Inverness.”