Saturday 29th July, 2017 at 7:37pm
With the final Betfred Cup game of the group stages today, Partick Thistle knew their position going into the fixture. After a disappointing draw with Livingston followed by a penalty shootout defeat by the Lions, it was imperative that the Jags bounced back and that they did. A 5-0 win over St. Mirren and a slightly tighter affair against Airdrie where the Firhill side came out 2-1 victors meant that it was clear what was needed from their clash with Stranraer.
Livingston had topped the group, confirmed with a midweek win, however three points for Thistle would undoubtedly be enough to see them through as one of four best runners up from the group stages. The match was a nervy one in which the Blues defended well but a late Christie Elliott strike saw the Jags through. Thistle boss Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk following the tense encounter.
Despite a less than ideal performance from his team, Archie knows that the most important thing coming out of the game was the win.
“We’re glad to be through. At the end of the day, we got the job done and won the game. We made heavy work of it but we’ve seen a few big teams lose games you’d expect them to win so I’m glad that we got over the line in the end.”
Alan’s side struggled to break down a resolute Stranraer team but the gaffer knew that the Blues were going to play in a reserved manner and believes his team can’t use that as an excuse for their lack of incision.
“It was down to us to break them down and we weren’t good enough in the final third. Stranraer deserve plenty of credit because they were very well-organised and made it difficult for us. I was disappointed that we didn’t cause them as many problems as I’d hoped we could. I thought our movement of the ball was very pedestrian in the first half and every player seemed to take a touch too many which let them recover whenever we did create some space.”
After that lacklustre first half performance, Archie spoke to his players during the break and was pleased to see some improvement for the second 45.
“I thought we played at a higher tempo in the second half and our full-backs were getting much further up the park but, frustratingly, we still weren’t hurting the Stranraer defence enough. Thankfully, we did get that goal in the end and I was pleased to see that young Neil McLaughlin was involved as I thought his play was very good when he came on.”
After getting a taste of a cup run last season in the Scottish Cup, Alan is keen to take his side even further this year as he hasn’t got a great record in the domestic cups.
“We got a wee taste of it last year when we got a fairly kind draw against Formartine and then put in a great performance against St. Johnstone before Aberdeen put us out. We want to go on in this competition too although we aren’t seeded but that isn’t the be all and end all as we were seeded last year and went out in the first round after the group stages.”
The Jags boss said that although Stuart Bannigan took a bang to the knee and was later subbed off, there is nothing to worry about from an injury point of view.
“He took a hit to his knee but it was just a collision and it was his other knee so there’s no cause for concern there though I know that some of the fans might have been worried when they saw him holding that part of his leg. We took him off because we didn’t want him to pull a muscle as later in the game, Stranraer were trying to hit us on the counter and Stuart was chasing everything so we just wanted to take him off so he didn’t push himself that bit too far.”
Arguably, Thistle’s most impressive summer signing was that of Niall Keown. The central-defender re-joined on a permanent deal, penning a two-year contract. An injury has meant he’s yet to appear for Thistle this season but Archie says that he isn’t far from making his second debut.
“Niall isn’t too far away. He’s been training for the last couple of days and the plan was to bring him on if we were in a comfortable position but it wasn’t to be because we had to bring attacking players on.”
Alan now turns his attention to the opening game of the Ladbrokes Premiership season as he must prepare his side for an opening day trip to Easter Road to take on Hibs. Kick-off is 15:00 next Saturday.
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