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Match Reaction

Hibernian v Partick Thistle – 31st March 2018

Partick Thistle travelled to Easter Road to take on Hibernian this afternoon following seven winless games which have seen the Jags drop into 11th spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership. The Maryhill men came into their meeting with the Hibees having lost 3-0 in the capital to Hearts prior to last weekend’s international break and the result ended up being much the same today. A positive opening hour for the visitors had at least a point looking achievable but two quick-fire goals from Jamie McLaren and Paul Hanlon saw Neil Lennon’s Hibs take the victory. The result was compounded for Thistle when Daniel Devine picked up a second yellow in the 85th minute, ruling him out of Tuesday’s trip to Ross County. Despite the disappointing final 20 minutes, the performance had been a much improved one and showed that Thistle still had the fight in them for the relegation battle ahead. Jags boss, Alan Archibald spoke to after the game.

Alan started by commenting on the game’s most controversial moment. Less than a minute before the Hibernian opener, Thistle had a goal ruled out for offside. Baily Cargill headed a Ryan Edwards corner towards goal with Cammy Bell getting something to it, however, he couldn’t stop it as it wriggled past him. Then a number of bodies went for the ball although the ball crossed the line before any of them got to it. Nevertheless, the linesman spotted an offside and raised his flag chalking off the goal to the away side’s dismay.

“I’ve just watched it back and it’s difficult to tell exactly what’s happened. Baily meets the ball brilliantly and does well to get it on target but it seems that the offside was given because Miles Storey was standing near the goalkeeper. I didn’t think Miles was affecting play; the ‘keeper tries to save it and doesn’t quite stop it so from my perspective, the goal should have stood. I didn’t waste my time chapping on the officials’ door though.”

Despite his anger at that call, Archie was equally disappointed with how his team switched off after the disallowed effort as Hibs went up the other end and scored almost immediately.

“I understand that the players might have been unhappy but once those decisions go against you, it’s important you regain focus and don’t let it affect you. We didn’t do that and, in the end, it cost us the opening goal. Our defending has been very poor this year but I felt we’d done well up until the opener where we let ourselves down, in honesty.”

Although the gaffer felt his players could have done better in the final 20 minutes, he was very pleased to see a reaction from his players following a dreadful performance at Tynecastle last time out.

“We contained Hibs for long periods of the game while also creating some chances of our own. We denied them too many real chances from open play and you could see that there was fight in the players. We used the ball well and could have had a goal or two on another day. We didn’t get any points but hopefully we’ve got a bit of confidence back among the lads.”

Archie then touched on Tuesday’s vital clash with bottom of the league Ross County. A win for the Jags would open up a six point gap between them and the foot of the table, however, a win for the Staggies would draw them level on points with the Maryhill men. The game represents one of the biggest of the season so far and the gaffer is keen to ensure that all of his players understand the match’s importance.

“There’s so much at stake in midweek and that can work both ways. Sometimes players become shy in such a big game but sometimes they come out with the fight and passion that you need in a relegation battle. We’ll make sure the players understand the importance of it but we also don’t want to scare them. They need to be able to express themselves if they’re going to play their best but today’s performance was a step in the right direction that we needed.”

As Alan mentioned his side’s next game comes in just three days’ time as the Jags travel North to take on Ross County at the Global Energy Arena. Kick-off is 19:45 from Dingwall.

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