Saturday 11th August, 2012 at 8:47pm
Optimism is always high before the start of the season and Thistle proved yesterday that there was good reason for that optimism, opening the season with a 3-1 win over Falkirk.
Although naturally delighted to have started the league campaign with three points, Thistle boss Jackie McNamara felt that there is more to come from his side when he spoke after the game.
“I think we could have played better at times. Full credit to Falkirk though who after going 2-0 behind put us under a wee bit of pressure. I felt that we stopped passing the ball as well as we had been doing and things got a little anxious. Falkirk then scored at the start of the second half but the pleasing thing for me was that we went on and scored a third goal to give us a bit of breathing space. As I said, I think we can play better than that but I was really pleased with the lads attitudes and desire and obviously with the three points.”
“We’ve a lot of players in the team at the moment with real desire and that’s something that you can’t really coach. There’s a desire to get the ball and a desire not to give anything away and it is very pleasing to see that.”
“I said to the lads at half-time that the next goal in the game would be crucial. Falkirk scored that third goal and they got a lift from it but as I said the pleasing thing was that we were able to respond to the loss of that goal.”
Scorer of the second and third goals, Kris Doolan, collected the Man of the Match award after the game and the manager was quick to praise his contribution while also emphasising the options he has up front.
“I think we have some good options in that area of the park. We have Kris Doolan, Chris Erskine was up there and Christie Elliott came on while big Mark McGuigan was on the bench so we certainly have options up front. I thought Kris Doolan lead the line really well today and he helped bring other players into play. I thought he was tremendous as was Scott Fox at the other end.”
There’s plenty of competition for places in the side at the moment and before yesterday’s game the manager had a tough decision to choose between Stuart Bannigan and Aaron Sinclair for a starting berth in the team.
“It was a hard decision to decide between Stuart Bannigan and Aaron Sinclair. Stuart though has been excellent since the tail end of last season and although Aaron was excellent up at Forfar I thought for the balance of the team it was best to go with Stuart. It was a tough decision and I told Aaron on Friday that he wouldn’t start today but that there are a lot of games to play this season, starting on Tuesday against Queen’s Park.”
Yesterday’s win and all round positive start to the season hasn’t taken the manager by surprise.
“It’s not a surprise. I know that the players have the ability and I told them that at the end of last season. It’s possibly a matter of belief and confidence comes with winning games and hopefully that is something that we can continue to do. I think adding the right kind of players with the right mentality has helped. Hugh Murray really organises things in the middle of the park and the other new players have come in and done well so far. There is a real hunger in the team right now. Last season at times I felt that the players just accepted things but now I know that even if you can’t play well every week, the boys will give everything that they have.”
Finally Jackie had a few words of praise for the Thistle fans who helped create such a good atmosphere inside the ground.
“I think it was a great advertisement for our league. There were a lot of young players on the pitch but everyone tried to pass the ball and play the game the right way. There was a good crowd and I thought that our support were fantastic. The whole game, from start to finish, was a good one.”
Falkirk manager Stephen Pressley meantime was in full agreement on Jackie’s assessment of the quality of the game.
“I thought that Thistle played well and it was a game between two teams trying to play football the right way. Thistle obviously made a great start but that aside I didn’t think there was much in the game. Pleasing thing for me was the fact that we didn’t fold after losing those two early goals. We got back into the game and then lost a set piece goal. We just made the wrong decision at three crucial stages of the game.”