Thursday 29th December, 2016 at 1:25am
After an impressive 3-1 away win against Ross County last Friday, Partick Thistle would look to make it two wins in a row as Dundee visited Firhill. Alan Archibald’s side went into the game knowing that a win could take them into the top half of the table if other results went their way, on the night. However, Dundee were coming off the back of a spectacular comeback win against Hearts, where they managed to win 3-2 despite going 2-0 down against the Jambos.
The Jags management staff made one change to the side that was victorious at Dingwall last time out. Steven Lawless was dropped to the bench while Adam Barton returned to the starting eleven after two games on the bench, recovering from a slight knock. Due to Barton’s return, the team returned to a three centre-half formation with Elliott and Booth as wing-backs. Kris Doolan started up-front with Chris Erskine playing off him.
Dundee kicked the game off but early action was scarce. Both teams failed to manufacture any openings whatsoever in the first 15 minutes.
Despite the slow start the first goal of the game came in the 15th minute. Kris Doolan went down on the edge of the D, just outside Dundee’s 18-yard box. The free kick was an inviting one and seemed to suit a left-footer with Sean Welsh and Callum Booth both standing over it. It would be the left-back to take it, but rather than trying to direct it over the wall and into the top corner, he unleashed a curling shot towards the ‘keepers side. The strike was powerful and accurate, flying past Scott Bain who was poorly positioned to stop the attempt. The goal was Booth’s first of the 2016/17 campaign and also the first direct free-kick to be scored at Firhill by the home team since Thistle’s promotion in 2013.
On the 26th minute it was Dundee’s chance to try their luck from a free-kick situation. Tom Hateley stepped up and hit it but his attempt went well over the bar, not troubling Tomas Cerny.
With ten minutes remaining of the first half, the Jags had a chance to double the deficit. Chris Erskine was running at the opposition defence when he spotted Christie Elliott making strides down the right-hand side. The midfielder slotted the ball through for his teammate but Elliott was forced wide by a covering Dundee man. He still took a shot but it was tame and bobbled safely into Scott Bain’s grasp.
Dundee had another half-chance as the first half entered its final five minutes. Cammy Kerr cut past Callum Booth on the Dees’ left wing and tried a shot from 25 yards but it was a weak attempt that floated into the hands of Tomas Cerny.
The home side came close to a second goal with two minutes of the opening 45 left to play. Ryan Edwards started a counter attack all by himself using his seemingly endless reserve of energy to skip past a slide tackle before playing Chris Erskine in. The number 10 tried to reverse a shot past Bain but the ‘stopper blocked the shot.
Despite escaping the Erskine chance without conceding, the visitors couldn’t make it to the interval just a goal behind. Chris Erskine had a chance to have a real run at the Dark Blues’ defence. He used a step over to breeze past his marker before firing on goal. Scott Bain was able to stop the shot but he was unable to hold it, allowing Thistle marksman Kris Doolan to skip past the goalkeeper with ease before slotting home into the open net to score his fifth league goal of the season.
The teams went into half time at 2-0. Thistle had been clinical in front of goal, taking a first half two goal lead for the first time in the league since the Jags drew 3-3 with Dundee United in May of this year. Alan Archibald’s side had been generally calm at the back, allowing no clear cut chance for the travelling Dees. Unfortunately for the Firhill team, Liam Lindsay took a hit to the face in the build-up of the second goal and was forced off at half-time. The big centre-half was replaced by Ziggy Gordon, who slotted in where Lindsay was playing, on the left of the defensive three.
13 minutes after the break, Dundee created their best chance of the game so far when some decent build-up play ended with Kevin Holt being played the ball inside the box. The left-back hit a powerful, low shot that was straight at Tomas Cerny and was easily saved by the Czech goalie.
After an excellent shift and some very creative play Chris Erskine was taken off with 25 minutes to play, being replaced by Ade Azeez.
As the game came to a close Dundee were reduced to hitting long balls towards the Thistle box. Adam Barton looked extremely dominant in the air and the away side had very limited success from their high balls. Two headers came in from Marcus Haber and Rory Loy but both were straight down the throat of Cerny in the Jags’ net.
Ade Azeez used his ability to hold up play to the advantage of the home side, shielding the ball from the defenders and running down the clock in the process. Regrettably, both Daniel Devine and Thistle skipper Abdul Osman picked up bookings which triggered suspensions that will mean they miss out on the first league game of the new year against Inverness. It’s important to remember that the suspension doesn’t affect this weekend’s clash with Kilmarnock or the cup game against Formartine on the 21st of January.
Despite this news, it was no dampener on an impressive victory as the Jags saw out the final few minutes of the match with the game finishing 2-0, allowing Tomas Cerny and his backline to claim their first clean sheet since the reverse fixture against Dundee at Dens Park of the same score line.
The win took Alan Archibald’s side into the top six, going five points clear of the relegation play-off place. It was Thistle’s fifth league win of the season and just the second at home and the Jags must now look forward to Saturday’s clash with Kilmarnock as they try to make it three wins on the bounce for the first time this season.
Thistle Team: Cerny, Booth, Lindsay (Gordon, 45’), Barton, Devine, Elliott, Osman, Welsh, Edwards, Erskine (Azeez, 65’), Doolan
Thistle Subs (N/U): Stuckmann, Wilson, Lawless, McDaid, Amoo
Dundee Team: Bain, Holt, O’Dea, Gadzhalov, Extabeguren (Loy, 78’), Kerr, Vincent (El Bakhtaoui, 58’), Hateley, McGowan, Wighton, Haber
Dundee Subs: (N/U): Mitchell, Curran, Ross, Williams, Gomis