Sunday 5th March, 2017 at 10:43pm
After four consecutive victories, Partick Thistle were looking to advance into the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals with a fifth win in the spin.
They faced a formidable challenge in the form of Aberdeen. The Ladbrokes Premiership’s second placed team had overcome Ross County at Dingwall in the last round to reach this stage. The Dons had already been relatively successful in cup competition this season having reached the Betfred Cup final although they fell to defeat in that game.
Alan Archibald had selected the same starting eleven that defeated Dundee at Dens Park on Wednesday night. Niall Keown, Liam Lindsay and Daniel Devine all started as a back three. Callum Booth and Christie Elliott played as the wing backs with Mustapha Dumbuya only fit to make the bench. Abdul Osman, Adam Barton and Ryan Edwards formed a midfield triangle while Kris Doolan and Chris Erskine started in attack.
Thistle skipper Abdul Osman lead his Jags side onto the Pittodrie pitch which had taken damage from the heavy rainfall of recent days. Over 900 travelling Jags supporters applauded the arrival of Alan Archibald’s men.
The away side got things underway and had a very early chance. Chris Erskine found himself with the ball in space on the left flank. He spotted Christie Elliott’s run towards the back post and tried to pick out the Englishman. As Elliott looked set to head home, an excellent defensive header cleared the ball for Aberdeen.
The Dons had their first real sight of goal after 14 minutes. Niall McGinn was played the ball on the right wing and he shifted infield, onto his left foot with which he unleashed a shot. Fortunately for the visitors, it sailed harmlessly over the bar.
The first dangerous shot in target came in the 23rd minute and it was that man Niall McGinn again. The winger had been causing the Jags difficulties for the opening stages and when a Daniel Devine clearing header fell to him on the edge of the box, he almost topped off a great start with a goal. The wide-man caught said clearance in the volley and managed to find the target but Tomas Cerny was equal to it and parried the ball away from danger.
With 34 minutes gone, Aberdeen’s top scorer had a chance. Niall McGinn whipped a corner into the box finding Adam Rooney. The forward headed at goal but his effort went over the bar.
After a couple of half chances more, the hosts were able to take the lead through their captain. Dons skipper Graeme Shinnie was fed the ball just outside the box. The ex-Inverness man then turned onto his left foot before unleashing a curled effort at goal. The shot nestled into the bottom corner of Tomas Cerny’s net, leaving the Czech ‘stopper with no chance.
That Graeme Shinnie goal late in the first half meant that Partick Thistle went into half-time trailing. The Jags had defended well until the 43rd minute when the Reds took the lead. Thistle failed to create any clear-cut opportunities in the opening 45. Chris Erskine has been denied the chance to get on the ball and link up with Kris Doolan effectively by a well-organised Aberdeen team. Overall, Alan Archibald would have been unhappy with the fact that his side couldn’t make it to the interval with the game goalless.
The home side would have doubled their lead just two minutes into the second period if it hadn’t been for Tomas Cerny. An Aberdeen free-kick was whipped in and beat all the Jags defender but found Dons man, Andrew Considine. The defender redirected it towards goal, on the stretch, and it seemed that his attempt was destined to find the net however Tomas Cerny was able to reach an arm to turn it away excellently.
In the 52nd minute, Aberdeen had another opportunity to double the deficit. Peter Pawlett was able to latch onto a smart knockdown and manoeuvre to shoot towards the near post. Unfortunately for the number 16, he could only find the side netting.
It was quite clear that going forward, Thistle weren’t good enough and before the hour mark, Alan Archibald made two changes. Firstly, he brought Steven Lawless on for Adam Barton in an attempt to add some quickness and creativity in the final third. Archie also brought Ade Azeez in for Chris Erskine as he looked to add pace to the Jags frontline.
With 13 minutes left of the regulation 90, Aberdeen’s danger man was denied a goal, brilliantly. Niall McGinn found space in behind his marker and found space to shoot. He attempted a dangerous shot across goal but Tomas Cerny was equal to it, impressively getting a hand to the shot to deny the Reds a second.
In the 78th minute, Thistle made their final change. Young Kevin Nisbet came on to replace Kris Doolan and try to make something happened in the time that remained.
Despite these changes, it was an Aberdeen substitute who would go close in the dumping minutes. Anthony O’Connor rose highest to get in the end of an Aberdeen free-kick. The defender tries to head beyond Tomas Cerny but his effort came off the top of the bar and went over.
In the final stages of this quarter-final it was Thistle who had all the possession but they were struggling to create anything, however, they had a great opportunity to equalise after Steven Lawless was fouled at the corner of the box. Callum Booth found Abdul Osman at the back post with the resulting free-kick but to the frustration of the man himself, he could only head onto the roof of the net from close range.
After missing a glorious opportunity to draw level, things only got worse for Thistle. After being beaten on the flank, Daniel Devine took his man down and in the process picked up a second yellow card which lead to his dismissal.
From there on, the hosts simply ran down the clock by keeping the ball in the corner and it worked for them as the 10-man away team were unable to create any more opportunities and Aberdeen were victorious.
A disappointing result on a disappointing afternoon for the Firhill side in a game where they never found their rhythm. Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan struggled to find any openings or get any time on the ball. The back three had a fairly good game in general but one moment when Graeme Shinnie was allowed too much space cost them in the end.
Thistle’s dream of a chance to play at Hampden was gone and now it’s all focus on the league campaign. The Jags now focus on steering well clear of the bottom of the table and trying to secure a top six place.
Alan Archibald’s men are next in action against Inverness at Firhill next Saturday in the Ladbrokes Premiership with kick-off at 15:00.