Saturday 27th August, 2016 at 9:47pm
Partick Thistle 1-2 Hearts
After missing week two of the Ladbrokes Premiership season, Partick Thistle returned to action against Aberdeen. The Dons picked up the victory at Pittodrie, beating the Jags 2-1. However, there were positives to be taken from the loss and the scoreline definitely doesn’t tell the full story. The visitors were coming off the back of an incredible 5-1 win away at Inverness which gave the Edinburgh side their first win of the season and left them fifth in the table.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side that played against the Dons last Saturday. Sean Welsh was suspended for the game after picking up a red card at Pittodrie. David Amoo also dropped out of the starting line-up. They were replaced by Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan who both missed out on starting berths in the Granite City.
Tony Watt was the man to get the game underway as Thistle attacked the goal in front of the North Stand. The man who kicked the match off was also the man to get the first chance. Seven minutes in, Watt found himself in possession at the edge of the box. His first shot couldn’t find its way through a selection of bodies, the ball fell back to the ex-Celtic man but his second attempted was blocked once again and Ryan Edwards cleared the ball.
It was Hearts controlling the play in the early minutes as they managed to keep Thistle’s most creative players quiet for the most part. Around 10 minutes in the men in red and yellow began to pick up the pace. Ade Azeez collected the ball and ran past his marker towards the by-line. He saw Chris Erskine at the back post but his attempted cross was over hit and went out for a throw.
As the Jags began to get to grips with the game, Chris Erskine laid the ball off for Kris Doolan on the edge of the box but Jack Hamilton made the low save. The Jags continued to improve throughout the first half. The increased pressure almost paid off as Ade Azeez and Kris Doolan had shots blocked consecutively after Ziggy Gordon won the ball back on the right flank.
Despite showing signs of improvement, it was the side from Edinburgh who broke the deadlock. Around 16 minutes in, a blocked effort from Conor Sammon lead to a Jambos corner. Sam Nicholson went over to take the set-piece and whipped it towards the back post. Callum Paterson rose highest and headed the ball past Tomas Cerny to make it 1-0.
The goal seemed to kill the flow of the game as play slowed down significantly the the Hearts opener. The Jambos almost doubled their lead when another headed effort had to be blocked by Abdul Osman before Cerny came out and collected.
The next big chance of the game fell to Kris Doolan. He received the ball via a dinked pass from Steven Lawless and took the ball down well. His effort was, however, tame and saved easily by Hamilton.
The final chance of the half came from the Hearts captain Don Cowie. The midfielder picked up the ball, turned and shot but his attempt soared well over the bar.
The score was 1-0 at half-time and Thistle had the right to be disappointed. The Jags had created a selection of decent chances but hadn’t been able to beat Jack Hamilton. Hearts’ slight aerial advantage had proved crucial as they had scored with a header. Alan Archibald would have been looking for more of the same from his side only with a bit more cutting edge.
Kris Doolan was the man to start the second half. Chris Erskine was showing flashes of excellence as he used his skill to bypass two opposition defenders before winning a corner. Erskine would go on to take the corner as well. He crossed the ball into the area where it was met by Liam Lindsay. The big centre-half saw his effort hit the underside of the bar and it appeared to cross the line. At first it was it was difficult to tell whether the original effort had crossed the line as Danny Devine bundled the ball home to make sure but the players’ reaction said it all and the goal was rightly awarded to Lindsay who grabbed his first ever league goal at Firhill.
The equalising goal gave Thistle a new impetus that had been absent previously. Kris Doolan had a chance to put the home side ahead but he stalled for too long and his shot was blocked by Faycal Rherras.
As the second half wore on Hearts came back into it. Cerny was forced into a good couple of saves which he dealt with well and four minutes later, Bjorn Johnsen found space inside the box but his curled attempt sailed well over Cerny’s goal.
As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Kris Doolan made way for Mathias Pogba after Ade Azeez was replaced by David Amoo. Pogba almost got on the end of a Callum Booth cross but Jambos ‘keeper, Jack Hamilton, denied the striker a tap-in.
Unfortunately for Thistle, all their hard work would come undone in the dying seconds of normal time. A scramble in the Jags’ box led to Tomas Cerny punching the ball away but, as Abdul Osman looked to clear further up the pitch, his kick ricocheted off Perry Kitchen and landed perfectly for Tony Watt. The man on-loan from Charlton took the ball past his man and blasted it towards goal from a tight angle. The ball seemed to take a nick on the way past Cerny as it flew into the back of the net.
The goal sent the travelling 2,045 Hearts fans into delirium as Watt gave the visitors the lead once again. Alan Archibald’s men were unable to muster up any meaningful chances as proceedings came to a close and the game finished 2-1.
On a day where neither team really dominated, the Jags might feel as if they deserved something out of the match. If the home team had taken their chances more clinically then the three points may well have been staying in Maryhill, however, as it happens Thistle’s winless run against Hearts is extended to five games and the Jags find themselves in eleventh place albeit in an embryonic Ladbrokes premiership table.
Thistle’s next match comes against St. Johnstone Firhill on the 10th of September.
Thistle team: Cerny, Booth, Devine, Lindsay, Gordon, Osman, Edwards, Lawless, Erskine, Azeez (Amoo, 69), Doolan (Pogba, 77)
histle subs (N/U): Scully, Elliott, Wilson, McDaid, Syme
Hearts team: Hamilton, Paterson, Rossi, Souttar, Rherras, Kitchen, Cowie, Djoum, Nicholson (Walker, 59), Sammon (Johnsen, 59), Watt (Smith, 92)
Hearts subs (N/U): Noring, Ozturk, Buaben, Muirhead