SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Wed 1 February, 2017. Kick Off: - 19:45
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
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Manager Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk shortly after training on Tuesday morning to look ahead to what promises to be another tough Ladbrokes Premiership clash against St Johnstone.
“We know how difficult it will be against a St Johnstone side who have been fantastic all season. They are sitting eight points ahead of us now and will be looking to stretch that to an eleven point gap on Wednesday evening.
“We know that if we are to have any chance of bringing the gap down to five points, we’ll have to be at our very best and do the basics correctly. We’ll have to work harder than them and battle for every ball throughout the ninety minutes.”
Thistle have had the upper hand against St Johnstone in recent times, but the Perth Saints won the last clash at Firhill with a 2-0 victory, so the gaffer knows his side will have to be their very best to get all three points.
“We’ve had a good record against St Johnstone recently, but that all counts for nothing when the players cross the white line. It’s eleven v eleven and we know that, individually and as a team, we’ll have to match them all over the park.
“They have a good squad with lots of quality that can hurt you all over the park so we know that we’ll have to be at our best when the game begins.”
Thistle have recorded four consecutive clean sheets, something that gives the manager confidence that the side has a base to build on.
“It’s great that we have managed to get four clean sheets in a row. At the start of the season we were making mistakes and conceding sloppy goals so it is good that we have managed to get rid of that a little bit and given our team a base to build on.
“We haven’t managed to score in either of our last two games, but we have been creating chances and they just aren’t going in at the moment. By having a good defensive base, it means we only require a goal to win a game and that is a good positon to be in. We’ll have to keep working hard defensively and working hard as a team to have the opportunity to make it five clean sheets in a row on Wednesday.”
There is something magical about playing under the Firhill floodlights with Thistle enjoying a good record midweek at Firhill during the last twelve months.
“Night games at Firhill are always good, there is something a bit different to them compared to Saturday games. We’ve beaten Dundee at Firhill midweek this season and I think we won three out of four last season, so it’s a good run we’ve put together.
“We’re under no illusions of how tough this game will be and every player will have to be switched on from the first whistle, do the basics right to give us a chance of getting three points from the game.”
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It's defeat for Thistle after a bitterly disappointing 90 minutes.
Thistle never looked like getting back into the game after MacLean gave St Johnstone the lead 6 minutes before half-time.
St Johnstone's approach to defending their narrow lead didn't endear them to the Firhill faithful and their frustration was shared by Christie Elliott who was sent off in injury time when he rashly lashed out a St Johnstone player who was preventing him retrieving the ball at a throw in.
A night to forget for Thistle.
St Johnstone free kick at the edge of the Thistle box about 6 yards from the goal line.
Elliott is sent off.
Minimum of 4 minutes of additional time to be played.
St Johnstone free kick down by the Thistle corner flag. We may be some time over this.
Clark punches clear but there is no real Thistle challenge for the ball.
Will be interesting to see how much time will be added on at the end of the 90 minutes but Thistle look as if they have run out of ideas.
St Johnstone have a throw. The player nearest the ball leaves it to a team mate 10 yards away to take the throw.
Wotherspoon pushes forward and shoots over the bar as Thistle looked a little exposed at the back.
Lindsay goes long with his pass and it goes straight through to Clark.
Cummins, off balance, lifts a shot over the Thistl;e crossbar.
Booth's free kick tamely hits the St Johnstone wall.
Thistle free kick right at the right corner of the St Johnstone box.
Clark comes off his line to claim a free kick. He looses grip of the ball but a team mate hacks it clear.
St Johnstone take an age to take a free kick near the halfway line.
Azeez is on the end of a cross from the right but he can't get any real power to his header and Clark saves. Bit more promising from Thistle in the .last few minutes finding a little width.
Booth's cross is headed clear.
St Johnstone take an age to take a throw in at the halfway line.
Doolan knocks the ball back to Lawless at the edge of the box but he is quickly crowded out. Thistle making little headway at the moment.
Swanson's attempt to win himself a penalty only ends up in a yellow card for the St Johnstone player and boos from the home crowd.
Barton makes a vitally important block to clear a Swanson cross.
Alan Archibald has wasted little time in making a change after a poor start to the second half.
The game is very untidy at the moment which suits St Johnstone perfectly.
Thistle are a little slack at the back and Cummins is able to play a ball across the Thistle box that MacLean nearly makes something of.
St Johnstone defend the corner well.
A Doolan header nearly sneaks in at the post.
Thistle have a free kick midway inside the St Johnstone box.
Thistle were the better side in the first half but have punished for a defensive error and trail at the break.
Lawless, Edwards and Keown all came close to giving Thistle a deserved lead. The last named of that trio being denied by a stunning save from Clark.
Half-time was 6 minutes away when a headed pass back from Booth was siezed upon by MacLean who hooked the ball past Cerny.
Elliott drills a low ball into the box but it is too close to Clark to cause St Johnstone any problems.
It''s a deep corner from welsh but there is no Thistle player on hand to attack the ball.
Thistle are punished for not scoring when on top when MacLean has space inside the box to hook a shot past Cerny..
Clark makes a stunning save to deny Keown when Welsh's deep corner falls into his path.
So close for Thistle. Doolan does really well to get the ball to Lawless whose shot is pushed away by Clark. Edwards flings himself at the loose ball but his header hits the side netting when a foot the other side would likely have produced a goal.
Doolan does really well to get his head to a cross from the left but in stretching for the ball he is unable to get any real power into the header and Clark saves.
The Thistle pressure is mounting. Erskine's cross is gathered by Lawless who does well to turn towards goal but his effort is wide of target.
With Erskine making his run to his right Edwards elects to shoot from 20 yards out and his effort goes over the crossbar.
Booth plays a neat pass to the feet of Lawless but he can't in turn thread a pass through to Doolan.
Welsh's corner is cleared.
Edwards skips past Shaughnessy and his cross is cleared for a corner.
Thistle's use of the ball has been poor so far but there are small signs that they are starting , slowly, to get into their stride.
Doolan chases a long ball but has no support but manages to win Thistle a throw near the corner flag.
Barton is slack with a pass to Lindsay and Foster collects the ball but he can't find Millar to his left.
Anderson is perhaps a little lucky to escape a booking for a foul on the halfway line.
Better from Thistle as Elliott drills a low cross into the St Johnstone box that just fails to find a Thistle player.
Keown heads the corner clear but St Johnstone remaion on the attack as Thistle make a slow start to the game.
With the opportunity to move back into the top six and get within five points of St Johnstone Thistle have made just one change to the side that drew 0-0 at Inverness on Saturday.
Kris Doolan gets the nod to start ahead of Ade Azeez who drops to the bench.
Adbul Osman and Danny Devine who were both suspended at the weekend have to make do with a place on the bench as Alan Archibald keeps changes to an absolute minimum.
After returning to Ladbrokes Premiership action with a goalless draw away at Inverness, Partick Thistle took on St. Johnstone at Firhill in attempt to extend their 5 game unbeaten run in competitive matches. The Saints were coming off the back of an impressive 3-0 win against Hamilton and would be looking to their last trip to Maryhill for inspiration as the Perth side picked up a 2-0 victory the last time they visited Firhill, in September.
There was one change made to the side that started against Inverness at the weekend. Ade Azeez dropped to the bench and was replaced by Kris Doolan in the starting eleven. Niall Keown retained his position at the centre of defence, making his home debut, while Abdul Osman returned to the squad. The club captain missed the last game through suspension but only made the bench for tonight’s clash. Thistle’s deadline day signing, Jason Banton, wasn’t included in the squad.
Sean Welsh captained the side once again in the absence of Abdul Osman, leading the Jags onto the pitch as the night’s action begun. The Thistle players were struggling to get the ball down early on with the team’s ball retention starting poorly. Misplaced passes were the theme of the opening stages and the game was shaping up to be a scrappy one.
A half chance did present itself in the 18th minute when Kris Doolan leapt into the air to knock the ball down to Ryan Edwards. The Australian then looked up to see Chris Erskine making a run but opted to go for goal, unleashing a shot from 30 yards which flew high and wide in the end.
The home side were finally beginning to make things happen as Chris Erskine curled a ball into the box, picking out Steven Lawless. The winger controlled the ball well before creating some space for a shot. He tried to pick out the far corner but the attempt flew wide, causing no real trouble for the Saints’ goalkeeper.
23 minutes in, the Maryhill men created the best chance of the match so far. Chris Erskine slotted a well-weighted ball into the path of Steven Lawless who then took aim and shot towards goal. The initial attempt was saved well by Alexander Clark but the rebound fell to Ryan Edwards who had an open net to aim at. However, he had to stoop awkwardly to head the ball and as a result he could only find the side netting.
Alan Archibald’s side had another golden opportunity to take the lead in the 29th minute. A Callum Booth corner found Niall Keown, whose header was blocked. The ball fell at the feet of Keown who proceeded to smash the ball at the goal. Alexander Clark managed to get two fists to the ball, stopping the shot and the danger was then cleared.
Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, the Jags would go into the half-time break behind. When a loose ball was high in the Thistle box, Callum Booth made an attempt to head the ball back to Tomas Cerny but his header wasn’t strong enough and Steven MacLean latched onto the ball. The Saints striker then acrobatically volleyed past Cerny putting the visitors in the lead with five minutes left until the interval.
This goal would be a body blow for Thistle as they had been growing into the game and the goal was the Perth side’s first shot on target of the match. It was also the first competitive goal that the Jags have conceded since the 3-1 victory over Ross County on December 23rd.
Kris Doolan had one chance to level things before half-time. He was played in behind the travelling defence by an over-the-top through ball and decided to unleash a shot towards the near post. The attempt was powerful but was fairly easily parried behind by Clark in the Saints net.
The score would remain 1-0 as the game reached the half way point. It was a score line that didn’t really tell the full story. St. Johnstone had failed to create any real clear cut opportunities and only ever looked like scoring when Thistle were making mistakes, while on the other hand, Alan Archibald’s men had the lion’s share of the first half chances but hadn’t been clinical in front of goal.
As the second half began, it was clear that St. Johnstone were looking to cling to their one goal lead. They began to run the clock down at every opportunity shortly after the restart and this inspired the Thistle management team to try to switch things up with a pair of substitutions. Ade Azeez and Abdul Osman were brought into the fray while Chris Erskine and Sean Welsh were withdrawn. Between the changes Danny Swanson was booked for simulation as he went down in the box looking for a penalty.
Ade Azeez caught a short glimpse of goal in the 68th minute as he got on the end of a Ryan Edwards cross. Unfortunately, the cross was a weak, floated one and didn’t have enough pace on it which meant Azeez saw his header easily collected by Clark.
In a final throw of the dice, Alan Archibald decided to bring David Amoo on for Kris Doolan as he looked to add some pace to the Jags’ attack.
Niall Keown had another chance to open his Thistle account when the ball dropped to the centre-half in the box. He swung a leg at the ball but his volley was slashed wide and the score remained 1-0.
The last chance of the match fell to David Wotherspoon with ten minutes remaining of the regulation 90. The Saints substitute picked up the ball in his own half before powering forward on the break. When he entered shooting distance he tried to curl a shot past Tomas Cerny but the attempt looped over the bar.
In the closing minutes, St. Johnstone used smart tactics to run down the clock and edge closer to their victory but just as it looked like all the action was over, a red card was brandished by the referee. It was shown to Jags man Christie Elliott who had been accused of kicking out at Graham Cummins after the Saints’ man provoked Elliott. The incident put added more problems for Alan Archibald coming off the back of a disappointing game.
The match ended with St. Johnstone the victors. Partick Thistle remained in seventh place on 23 points despite the disheartening defeat. The team must now look forward to their clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday as the Jags look to get back to winning ways. The game kicks off at 15:00.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Booth, Keown, Lindsay, Elliott, Welsh (Osman, 63’), Barton, Edwards, Erskine (Azeez, 56’), Lawless, Doolan (Amoo, 73’).
THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Ridgers, Dumbuya, Devine, Nisbet.
ST. JOHNSTONE TEAM: Clark, Foster, Anderson, Shaughnessy, B. Easton, Swanson (Wotherspoon, 71’), Millar, Davidson, Craig, Cummins, MacLean.
ST. JOHNSTONE SUBS (N/U): Mannus, Scobbie, Alston, Paton, Watson, Hunter.
A run of five games unbeaten would come to a grinding halt for Alan Archibald’s Partick Thistle side as they suffered their first competitive loss of 2017 at the hands of St. Johnstone. Despite playing well for most of the first half, the Jags weren’t clinical in front of goal unlike their adversaries from Perth who scored with their only shot on target in the opening 45. This goal would prove to be enough to win the match for the Saints as they ran out 1-0 winners. Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk after the match to offer his thought on his team’s performance.
Archie knew that one of the big reasons that his side came away defeated was that they didn’t take their opportunities.
“It was disappointing. We created quite a few chances in the first half but we didn’t take them. We had to take the lead while we were on top but we didn’t do that. Then we lost a terrible goal and couldn’t recover in the second half.”
The Thistle boss expanded on his disappointment in the way that his team conceded the only goal of the game.
“It came from a deep free kick and we really should have dealt with it. In the end, Callum Booth makes an error and it knocked the wind out of us, a little bit.”
Archibald wasn’t impressed with his side’s second half display after they had struggled to create any more opportunities as the game wound down.
“We didn’t get going after the break, we just played into St. Johnstone’s hands. They are very good defensively and we know that but we would still hope to have enough to get back into the game. The only positive, really, was the way we were creating chances in the first half.”
The gaffer also commented on a late incident that lead to the dismissal of Christie Elliott with two minutes left in the game.
“I’ve not watched it back yet but it seems like he’s kicked out at him. He was obviously frustrated. I’m not sure if he kicked the ball and the man or one of the two so I’ll have to look over it.”
The memories of missed opportunities must be forgotten quickly as the Jags have another difficult fixture in just three days’ time against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. Thistle will be looking to return to winning ways at 15:00 on Saturday the 4th.