SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 10 September, 2016. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
As Thistle prepare for another tough Ladbrokes Premiership clash with St Johnstone, manager Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk after the final training session on Friday afternoon.
“It’s been a good international break but everyone is desperate to get back to playing games. The mood in the camp has been positive and we’re all focussed on the St Johnstone game tomorrow afternoon.
“We know it will be another tough game. Tommy Wright has done a fantastic job with St Johnstone, winning them the Scottish Cup a couple of seasons ago and his sides are always finishing in the top six which is all credit to him and his coaching staff. They are the best of the rest and the benchmark for the rest of the teams.”
Thistle commanded an impressive record against St Johnstone last season, winning all three clashes against the Perth side, something which gives the Jags manager confidence.
“We won all three games against St Johnstone last season, scoring some spectacular goals in the process. We became their bogey side last season and it’s something we will be looking to carry into tomorrow’s fixture.
“That counts for nothing tomorrow, they’ve brought in some new additions, as have we, and it will be another difficult game for us. They are always difficult to beat and have a number of good creative players which we will have to be wary of tomorrow.”
During the closing days of the transfer window Alan added to his squad by bringing in Adam Barton, a versatile player from Portsmouth.
“Adam has been training with the squad for the full week and it’s been a good week for him to get to know his new teammates. He’s a very versatile player who can play in a number of positions. We were delighted to get him in.
“When he was younger he played central midfield, but last season he played for Portsmouth in central defence. Portsmouth are like us in that they like to play the ball out from the back so Adam should settle instantly into our style of play and we’ll use him in both positions on the park”
Finally, the gaffer brought us up to date with his team news for tomorrow’s game.
“It’s only the long term injuries that are missing which is great. The international break gave everyone who was carrying a niggle to recover from it and get ready for the run of games ahead. Gary Fraser has started to be involved in training with the first team, but we’ll be taking it slowly with him to make sure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks.”
After having two weeks to dwell on the disappointing loss to Hearts, Partick Thistle returned to action against St. Johnstone at Firhill. Both teams were looking for their second win of the season and with the league table so tight this early on in the season, three points could greatly alter either club’s position.
Thistle’s starting line-up had an attacking feel to it with Kris Doolan, Ade Azeez, Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless all starting. Sean Welsh made his return from suspension to play alongside captain Abdul Osman. Alan Archibald’s latest signing Adam Barton was on the bench.
St. Johnstone would be the team to kick-off on a calm Saturday afternoon in Maryhill. The play started slowly as both teams seemed unwilling to give the other space. The match’s first opportunity would fall to the home side just six minutes in. Steven Lawless finding space to get a shot away from the edge of the box but his shot was somewhat scuffed, however, the loose ball was sent in the direction of Kris Doolan who attempted to pounce but Saints ‘keeper Alexander Clark scrambled the ball away from danger.
For the following ten minutes Alan Archibald’s men were able to boss possession without doing too much with it. St. Johnstone were struggling to create successful passages of play and couldn’t keep the ball long enough to muster up anything meaningful. That was until the 19th minute.
For the first time in the game the men from Perth got in behind the Thistle defence. Pushing down their right-hand side, they were able to cut the ball back to Steven MacLean who fired towards goal but Tomas Cerny was able to turn it away.
Just six minutes after MacLean’s chance, Tommy Wright’s team took the lead. A deep cross to the back post flew over the heads of Thistle’s backline and found Steven Anderson. The defender was able to squeeze the ball between the post and Tomas Cerny to break the deadlock.
The goal seemed to give the Saints something that they had been missing thus far. They were able to move the ball with a bit more purpose and hold onto it for longer periods of time.
Apart from a couple of long range half chances there was little going on as the first half progressed but as we entered the last five minutes before the interval, Thistle were dealt a huge blow. As Tomas Cerny came to challenge for the ball he felt something wrong with his ankle and threw the ball out of play immediately. After receiving some treatment, it was apparent that he would have to be replaced and Ryan Scully was substituted on. This left Thistle a substitution down and a goal down as half-time approached.
The final opportunity of the first period fell to Chris Kane. The St. Johnstone man attempted an audacious overhead kick but his effort landed safely on the roof of the net.
That would be all for the opening half as both teams went in feeling differently. The visitors would be pleased with the way that they had improved as time progressed whereas Thistle went in disappointed, having fallen away after a promising start. The Jags had found it difficult to carve out any clear-cut chances on goal.
Alan Archibald decided that something had to change and made a half-time substitution. Ade Azeez was withdrawn and Ryan Edwards was introduced to the game. The team reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 formation with Ryan Edwards fitting in as one of three behind the lone striker, Kris Doolan.
As the second period got underway, it had a similar feel to the start of the first. The pace was lethargic and neither team were imposing their dominance upon the proceedings.
In the 59th minute the home side were able to create the first real chance since the break. Callum Booth had possession on the left flank and he cut the ball back onto his right-foot. He then crossed a looped ball towards the far post where Ziggy Gordon and Ryan Edwards were waiting. Gordon seemed to have the best angle for the header but Ryan Edwards must’ve missed the right-backs shout as he tried to knock it home. The Australian could only glance it past the post as he missed what had been Thistle’s best chance of the match up until that point.
The miss would prove to be a costly one as only five minutes after Edwards’ chance the visitors doubled their lead. The ball was played into Saints no.9 Steven MacLean who turned his man expertly before firing a rocket into Ryan Scully’s top right corner.
After that Archie wasted no time and immediately replaced Sean Welsh with David Amoo. Despite the attacking change, the second goal seemed to suck the life out of the Thistle faithful and the team.
It wasn’t until the 80th minute that the home side were able to create another opportunity. Doolan played the ball to Chris Erskine who then shifted it to Steven Lawless who had an opening to shoot but the angle was too tight and his attempt flashed across the face of goal.
From there on, the game petered out as Thistle controlled possession without the impetus needed to manufacture any openings. The game would finish 2-0 with this loss leaving the Jags bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Alan Archibald’s squad will now look to next week’s fixture at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock on the 17th of September.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny (Scully, 42), Booth, Lindsay, Devine, Gordon, Welsh (Amoo, 64), Osman, Lawless, Erskine Azeez (Edwards, 45), Doolan
THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Elliott, Barton, Wilson, McDaid,
ST. JOHNSTONE TEAM: Clark, Foster, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Easton, Craig, Paton, Millar, Swanson (Wotherspoon, 70), Kane (Cummins, 60), MacLean
ST. JOHNSTONE SUBS (N/U): Mannus, Alston, Coulson, Gormley, Comrie
Partick Thistle were unable to claim their second victory of the season in today’s clash against visitors St. Johnstone and the performance was a lacklustre one. Jags boss Alan Archibald gave his opinion on the days’ game when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk after the match.
“I’m very frustrated, we looked unrecognisable at times. I know we’ve lost our last two matches but the way we played in those games was with a tempo and with high energy but we didn’t have any of that today. We looked flat.”
Archie felt that the team had begun the game promisingly but were slightly short in certain areas.
“We started brightly enough. We were in the final third trying to create a few things but it all seemed to peter out for us. We lacked that energy, we didn’t pick up enough second balls and we were losing those individual battles.”
The gaffer was annoyed by how the first goal was conceded but admitted the second was an excellent strike by Steven MacLean.
“The first goal was a long ball and a quick free kick which is disappointing but the second one was a wonder-strike. Ryan Edwards came on to give us a bit of added energy and he did that to be fair. I thought was unlucky to give the ball away in the lead-up to their second.”
One of the big moments of the match was when Jags ‘keeper Tomas Cerny limped off the pitch with what appeared to be an ankle problem and had to be replaced by Ryan Scully. Despite it being very concerning, Alan Archibald didn’t have the details on the extent of the Czech’s injury.
“I haven’t spoken with Tomas yet. Hopefully it’s not too bad. We saw a specialist about a month ago, the last time it re-occurred and we had hoped that it had been put to bed but obviously its popped up again which is a real concern.”
The Thistle boss acknowledged that improvements have to be made if his team are to get out of their current run of defeats.
“We knew that we had a tough set of games, there’s no hiding from that. We don’t want to start a run of losing games because it can become a habit. It wasn’t as bad with our previous defeats against Aberdeen and Hearts because we played well. In those games, we looked threatening but today we didn’t.”