Saturday 27th July, 2013 at 1:59pm
It feels as if it has been a long pre-season; a pre-season during which we have almost constantly been on the road.
Tomorrow, however, we return home for the final pre-season fixture, and it’s something a little bit different.
Cypriot First Division side AEL Limassol are our opponents and they are certain to provide us with a stern test; which is precisely what we want with the start of the competitive action just seven days away.
AEL Limassol were the Cypriot League Champions as recently as season 2011-2012; a title success that saw them compete in last season’s Champions League. After victories in the qualifying rounds over Linfield and FK Partizan they were narrowly eliminated over two legs by Anderlecht.
There was a still a berth for them in the Europa League but in a section alongside Marseille, Fenerbache and Borussia Monchengladbach they won just once, against Marseille, and finished bottom of the group.
In defence of their championship, AEL Limassol could only finish in fifth spot in the first round of matches last season which prevented them from defending their title in the second round of games, and a cup win for Apollon Limassol meant there would be no European football for them to enjoy this season. Which is lucky for us as it allows them to pay Firhill a visit.
It’s a match that manager Alan Archibald is looking forward to.
“It will be a real pleasure to get back playing at Firhill tomorrow. It’s been frustrating waiting until now to be able to get a game at Firhill but the work being done on the pitch hasn’t allowed us to play here before now. It’s work that had to be done and the pitch really is in fantastic condition because of that, and it just shows the hard work that the groundsman has put in over the summer.
Considering the number of games that were played on it, remember the Celtic under 20s were playing here last season, the Firhill was in good condition at the end of last season when, in comparison to other grounds, we still had grass on our pitch. A good playing surface helps the way that we like to play football and I’m pleased that the pitch is in such good condition.
I can’t say that I know too much about AEL Limassol but given that they had a wee run in last season’s Champions League then they are obviously a decent team.
It certainly presents us with something a little different pre-season and I think that is something that we all welcome; I certainly enjoyed a break from the norm when I was a player. They may well play the game a little differently from what we are used to and it will be interesting to see if they do anything different tactically.
One thing is sure is that it’s a break from playing the same teams like Dumbarton and Livingston. More and more clubs in Scotland have artificial pitches now and I was keen to try and play as many of our pre-season matches on a grass surface, which is becoming increasingly difficult especially when many grass pitches, like our own, weren’t ready for a game until very recently.
Both Stuart Bannigan and Sean Welsh should play part of tomorrow’s game. Sean trained Thursday and he trained again today without any reaction, although he did feel a bit of pain. We’re told that Sean can’t make his injury worse by training and playing so it’s really a case of pain management with him. We’ll see how he is after being involved tomorrow.
Of the two players it is Sean that has done most of pre-season. With Stuart it had a bit stop and start with him and might struggle a little fitness wise but it will be good to give him some game time. After tomorrow’s game both Sean and Stuart have the best part of a week to work on their fitness.
We’ll mix things up tomorrow. Just about everybody has had the right amount of game time over pre-season and really we can’t wait to get started.”
Saturday July 27th 2013
Partick Thistle v AEL Limassol
Concession (65+, Students, unemployed, disabled): £7
Under 16s: £5
Prices for Season Ticket holders, however, have been set at the following rates:
Season ticket holders will get a voucher in the post this week to redeem at the turnstile.
Referee – Willie Collum
Assistants – Derek Rose & Stephen Mitchell