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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Reaction

Partick Thistle v Stranraer – 19th January 2019

Partick Thistle navigated their way through the Scottish Cup fourth round for the fifth year running this afternoon as they beat Stranraer 4-1 at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. The Jags took a one-goal lead into the break thanks to Aidan Fitzpatrick before adding to that in the 50th minute through Joe Cardle. However, Stranraer battled back and made 2-1 with P.J. Crossan firing home from 15 yards. The Blues’ comeback was quelled though with the hosts adding two more goals as Steven Saunders opened his Jags account and Blair Spittal got his seventh this term.

The Maryhill men now go into tomorrow’s last 16 draw to see who they face when the Scottish Cup returns next month. Thistle boss, Gary Caldwell, spoke to after the final whistle.

He began by complementing his side after a well-earned victory over the Blues.

“These games against lower league opposition are never easy and it wasn’t today. They worked very hard and did excellently in spells but I always felt we had enough to beat them.

“We had a bit more than them in the last 20 minutes or so; a bit more energy. We continued to attack in numbers and create decent chances and deserved our two late goals.”

The gaffer was also pleased with the way his side weathered the Stranraer storm as the Stair Park side threatened to equalise early in the second half.

“They did well to fight back and at that point I’m sure they were thinking about causing one of the big cup upsets but, for us, it was about maintaining our composure and just defending well for that little spell that they had.

“We saw that pressure off well and then took control of the game again. I think Gary Harkins helped that, coming off the bench and, as I’ve said, the difference in fitness levels showed from that point on.”

Gary then continued to praise Harkins as he lauded the ingenuity from the number 11, in partnership with Stuart Bannigan, that led to the Jags’ third goal.

“It looks like a routine off the training ground but they’ve come up with it on the spot which is very impressive. They’re both very creative players who have experience and are confident in their ability and that has all come together to produce a goal which is brilliant.”

As well as Harkins coming on as a substitute, Kris Doolan and Souleymane Coulibaly also made appearances off the bench today and Caldwell says that’s a sign of the improved squad he now has having made six signings in the last few weeks.

“The squad is getting there and we had a very strong bench today. We still need more but we’re constantly looking at players who can come in and make a difference. Today, five of the six guys we’ve brought in played a part and they all did very well.

“Seeing guys like Aidan Fitzpatrick and Joe Cardle perform like that means that we can rotate things if we want and, as such, the players have to be at the top of their game to keep their place. Competition is a big thing in any squad and we now have that.”

A more in depth video interview with Gary Caldwell is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Aidan Fitzpatrick and Steven Saunders – log in now to see them.

Highlights will be added shortly and will be free for Jagzone subscribers.

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