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Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Celtic XI – 21st July 2012

Pre-season fixtures can quite often be fairly low key affairs, but there is a growing sense of anticipation ahead of the first ever, four Club, pre-season Tournament to have been staged here at Firhill.
Airdrie United, Celtic XI and an Everton XI are the visitors to Firhill for what promises to be two days of top quality football action at Firhill.
Last season a Celtic XI provided the opposition in a pre-season curtain raiser, and it proved to be a hugely enjoyable experience. On a lovely sunny day a crowd in excess of 5,000 assembled at Firhill, delaying kick-off for over ten minutes, to watch Thistle run out 2-1 winners.
It’s Thistle and Celtic that kick-off the ARR Craib Cup at Firhill at noon tomorrow and it is an occasion that Thistle manager Jackie McNamara is looking forward to.

“There was a big crowd and a good atmosphere at our friendly match with Celtic last season and hopefully it will be something similar tomorrow. The opposition, over the course of the weekend, should be of a good standard and hopefully we will be able to show everyone that we are a good side, with a good squad of players.”
Jackie continued;
“I’m happy with how things have been shaping up. The new boys have all settled in much better than we perhaps could have expected, which is great.”
“Hugh Murray has been organising things really well in the middle of the park and Steven Lawless I think will have shown the fans that have the seen the games we’ve played that he has plenty of ability and talent.”
“Aaron Muirhead too has done well. He’s played in a couple of different roles, as have others, as we try things out and it is good to see that he is capable of playing in different positions.”
So what kind of Thistle team can we expect to see over the course of the tournament?
“It will naturally be our first time. Aaron Sinclair picked up a knock against Ayr United on Monday but we are hopeful that he will be able to play at the weekend. Aaron took a blow to the ankle that he injured last season and it is understandable that he is a little anxious when he takes a knock on the same ankle. Conrad Balatoni missed the Ayr game but he played 90 minutes of a close door game with Berwick Rangers during the week.”
Thistle fans should also get a first glimpse of James Craigen who signed a two year deal earlier in the week and James was at Firhill yesterday, alongside Celtic’s Marcus Fraser and Airdrie United’s Kenny Arthur to help promote the tournament.

Kenny, who made 287 appearances for Thistle between 1997 and 2006, only returned to Scotland after a number years in England earlier this summer and he is looking forward to returning to his old stamping ground at the weekend.
“I’m really looking forward to the tournament and hopefully there will be a decent turn out for it. Although I’ve been down in England for the last few years, I’ve tried to get to see Thistle when I’ve not been playing, but it will be nice to get back in touch with some old faces over the weekend.”
After a summer of some uncertainty, it was only in the last few days that it was confirmed that Airdrie United will be competing in next season’s First Division so the weekend’s ARR Craib Cup gives Thistle manager Jackie McNamara a perfect opportunity to cast his eyes over future opponents.
Meantime it is anticipated that both Celtic and Everton will be bringing squads with a mixture of youth an experience to the tournament with Everton utilising a younger squad on Saturday than they will on Sunday.
KICK-OFF 12noon
KICK-OFF 2:45pm
KICK-OFF 12noon
KICK-OFF 2:45pm
(if matches are level after 90 minutes the winner will be decided by penalties)
A Day Pass for either Saturday or Sunday costs £15 for adults and £10 for concessions with a Weekend Pass – covering all four games – costing £25 for adults and £15 for concessions. Please note that proof of concession must be shown.
If you can’t make it in to the office, don’t worry as there will be cash turnstiles on both days.
Programme £2

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