SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 1 March, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
GLOBAL ENERGY STADIUM, DINGWALL
The Thistle squad head up to the Highland this afternoon as they prepare for tomorrow’s very important fixture against RossCounty. After facing Motherwell and Aberdeen, two teams pushing hard for second place, in our last two games tomorrow’s fixture sees us come against a side in our own half of the league table and as manager Alan Archibald admitted that gives the game a little extra significance.
“There’s a little extra spice to the fixture with it being so tight at our end of the league table. It’s an important game with a lot at stake especially with St Mirren and Kilmarnock playing each other as well; something will have to give their. We’re going into the game though on the back of a good result against Aberdeen and we will be looking for a similar performance tomorrow.”
Alan went on;
“We know we are in for a really difficult game tomorrow. County are in good form at the moment. I saw their derby game with Inverness during the week and despite the scoreline I thought that they did okay. To be honest it was just an excellent performance from Inverness on the night. It’s not that long since we played County but they’ve made some changes in personnel even since then. We’ve done the same and I think you could see the benefit of that last week against Aberdeen. The new boys are really starting to settle in and make a contribution.”
Thistle head north with no new injury worries; said the Thistle manager.
“Isaac Osbourne, Sean Welsh and Aaron Muirhead are our only injured players at present.”
Partick Thistle Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
1 2 2 7 7
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Kris Doolan 7
Steven Lawless 5
Lyle Taylor 5
Kallum Higginbotham 4
Aaron Muirhead 4
Conrad Balatoni 2
Christie Elliott 2
Chris Erskine 1
Ross Forbes 1
Gary Fraser 1
Stephen O’Donnell 1
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair 1
Saturday February 22nd 2014
Partick Thistle 3, Aberdeen 1
Ross County Stats
Current Form – Last Five Games
W D L F A
1 1 3 6 10
Scorers Season 2013-2014
Richard Brittain 5
Melvin De Leeuw 5
Filip Kiss 4
Yoann Arquin 3
Graham Carey 3
Stuart Kettlewell 2
Rocco Quinn 2
Yann Songo’o 2
Ivan Sproule 2
Scott Boyd 1
Alex Cooper 1
Ben Gordon 1
Darren Maatsen 1
Orhan Mustafi 1
Steve Saunders 1
Tuesday February 25th 2014
RossCounty 0, Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3
Saturday January 11th 2014
Partick Thistle 3, Ross County 3
Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Muirhead, Balatoni, Craigen, Lawless (Doolan), Piccolo, Elliott (Forbes), Taylor, Higginbotham.
County: Fraser, Gordon, Boyd, Kiss, (Quinn) Brittain, Tidser (Cooper), Glen (Kettlewell), McLean, Carey, Slew, Oikonomou.
Thistle: Taylor (28, 38), Lawless (47)
County: Kiss (22, 76), Gordon (50)
Saturday March 1st 2014
RossCounty v Partick Thistle
Supporters Buses Information
Referee: Craig Thomson
Assistant Referees: Calvin Harris and Alastair Mather
Fourth Official: Bobby Madden
Other Premiership Fixtures
Aberdeen v St Johnstone
Celtic v Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Hibs v Dundee United (Friday)
Motherwell v Hearts
St Mirren v Kilmarnock
The Jags made the long journey up to Dingwall looking to build on their great result against Aberdeen and hoping to pile on the misery to a Ross County side who had been soundly beaten by their Highland rivals Inverness CT midweek, however a satisfying point was all the Jags had to settle for.
Manager Alan Archibald made one change from the starting line up with Stephen O’Donnell replacing Jordan McMillan at right back. And the aforementioned O’Donnell was first to try his luck at goal from fully 30 yards whilst in space, but his effort was well wide of the target.
Kallum Higginbotham then saw his 30 yard free kick deflected of the visitors wall allowing Lyle Taylor a chance but he headed wide from 6 yards.
It was a bright opening from the Jags and things were to get even better in the 8th minute.
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair found Taylor who turned Boyd and drew the foul for which Boyd was booked. 25 yards out from the resultant free kick the wall jumped and Higginbotham drove the ball low and hard into the County net past a helpless Brown.
Just the start the Jags needed, and indeed things could have improved for the visitors as Taylor saw his header from an O’Donnell header flashed wide two minutes later. But County were also still well in the game and Boyd saw his half chance saved by Gallacher.
In the 13th minute County were level after a soft free kick was given by referee Craig Thomson and Brittain curled his effort past Paul Gallacher in the Jags goal to level the scores.
Thistle continued to try and play football and an Erskine cut back to Buaben should have seen the latter hit the target from 12 yards.
Thistle whilst trying to play the better football found themselves getting dragged into a battle in midfield as both sides found the final ball elusive and although Taylor went close for the Jags frustrations and a very fussy referee did not allow play to flow.
Slew had a half chance for County but Gallacher saved easily and Mair made a terrific challenge on Kiss after some good work from Arquin as the half time whistle blew.
Whilst Thistle had been on top in spells at the half time break their failure with the final ball combined with County’s doggedness kept the scores level.
County started the second half with De Leeuw replacing Slew but it was the Jags on the front foot with both Mair and Taylor having half chances early before Chris Erskine’s right footed curling effort was inches wide of a beaten Brown.
As Thistle pressed Higginbotham saw a shot blocked on the hour mark after a great play by Buaben. Boyd saw a shot blocked for the home side just after the hour mark and they came even closer when De Leeuw turned O’Donnell but his effort low and hard brought out a great save by Gallacher.
With play becoming scrappy in patches due to the nature and importance of the game it was understandable chances would be at a premium and Carey came close with a volley which took a deflection on its way towards goal.
Kiss also fired an effort with two minutes to go high over the bar, but in truth a draw was about right despite the Jags dominance in the early part of the second half.
It wasn’t to be a second win on the trot but it was a valuable point in the Highlands as Thistle and Ross County both scored early on from free kick strikes. The Jags had the better of things after the initial excitement without creating too many clear cut chances. So the obvious question to Alan Archibald at the games conclusion was a point gained or two points lost?
“I think it was a point gained. I really don’t think it was a very good match from either side’s perspective. Pitch conditions were actually not that great although it looked good and that impacted on both sides. We did not play the kind of football that we can and it made for a very difficult game and we will not look back upon it with too much satisfaction from a skill perspective.”
So if the skill level did not match the levels reached last week, what did the gaffer take from the game?
”There were a lot of positives for me. None more so than the shape and the discipline where, despite the difficult conditions, we certainly controlled possession and made sure that the home team rarely threatened our goal. Especially in the second half we held the ball well, kept our shape and defensively we were very sound. So, while I was disappointed with some of the passing, there was plenty of other aspects that were good and we come away very much with a decent point.”
There can be little doubt that the last ten league games are shaping up to be very exciting for the teams in and around us in the league and the manager knows that the team are ready for battle:
“There is no doubt that this battle is going to go down to the wire but I certainly believe we have enough about us to come out of it in a positive way. As I said, there were a lot of positives to take with regard to shape and the way our defence kept a good side in check for most of the match. Having said that this is going to come down to how we play between now and the end of the season and I am very confident that we are heading in a good direction. We now just have to focus on the game against Hibs coming up in a fortnight. I am not sure if the break is coming at a good time or not, I think I would rather the game was next week as our form is good but we will regroup, refocus and come out fighting at Firhill on the 15th.”