Sunday 14th October, 2012 at 9:02pm
There was something a strange feeling inside the Thistle camp immediately after this afternoon’s victory over Cowdenbeath. There was naturally delight at having reached the Final of the Ramsdens Cup for the first time in the Club’s history but the physical demands of what had been a very tough game had left everyone a little drained.
[link:HOME] spoke with manager Jackie McNamara after the game and he acknowledged just how tough it had been.
“It was a bit of an aerial bombardment, it was always going to be like that. Because the pitch is so narrow you know that you are going to have to deal with long throws into the box and at one stage there was a barrage of corners. You need to make sure you win the second balls in these situations and I thought that we dealt with it fantastically. I was particularly pleased for Conrad. He’s had to be patient because obviously Alan Archibald and Aaron Muirhead have been excellent this season. He was starting to get a bit down in recent weeks only playing in reserve games. I kept stressing to him the need for him to keep his fitness up and keep plugging away because his chance would come and it came today. I thought he was outstanding along with the rest of the boys. It was a very young back four that we had out there today. There were two 20 year olds, Conrad is 21 and Aaron Muirhead is 22.”
Does Conrad’s performance today give the manager another selection headache.
“It does, but that’s my job and when it becomes difficult. It was difficult today having to leave players out. I left Hugh Murray out for example. I spoke to him about it and because we were changing the system and because he will miss next week’s game in any case it was in my mind to leave him out today. Look, they are all great lads and they all want to play and start every game which is great. The most important thing is that everyone is making a contribution to the success of the Club at the moment.”
Jackie, anticipating the kind of game it would be, as he made reference to above, made changes to the shape of his side this afternoon.
“I changed a few things today and the system we used purely because of the pitch and the surroundings. It’s a narrow pitch and it is hard to find the pockets of space for Steven Lawless and Chris Erskine to use. I put Chris Erskine up through the middle and Steven Lawless on the right in a 4-4-02 formation. We changed things about with the two of them a few times during the game and Chris nearly scored just after he went to the right.”
The manager was naturally delighted that his side had progressed to the Final.
“I’m delighted for everyone associated with the Club. The fans were outstanding today. It’s been a long time since they have had something like that to celebrate.
The Thistle fans certainly made their feelings known as Jackie was interviewed by BBC Alba pitch side after the game. So much so that we wondered if they were able to hear anything of what Jackie actually said. He laughed at the suggestion before commenting;
“I dedicated the win to the fans and John Lilley of the Scots Guards, where we did our pre-season training. He text me this morning to say that he wouldn’t make it up for the game today as he was doing stuff with the Scots Guards. Hopefully he’ll make it up for the Final. He’s a good guy and he was saying to me that he is 41 and never seen Thistle in a Final. Hopefully he will be celebrating like the rest of us.”