Tuesday 24th July, 2018 at 11:55pm
Partick Thistle returned to Betfred Cup action a week after a Maryhill win over Morton as they travelled to Coatbridge to take on Albion Rovers. The Jags came into the game off the back of two wins in the opening two Betfred Cup fixtures while Albion Rovers were yet to pick up a point in Group E.
Only one change was made to the side that won last Tuesday with Cammy Bell remaining in goals behind an unchanged back four of James Penrice, Tam O’Ware, Sean McGinty and Christie Elliott. In sitting midfield it was Shea Gordon and Craig Slater once again, in behind number ten, Jack Storer. Out wide, it was Blair Spittal and Miles Storey who was replacing the injured Chris Erskine with Storey having penned a revised contract last Thursday which will keep him at Thistle for the upcoming Championship campaign. Kris Doolan was the sole striker and captain for a third game running.
The match started slowly with a bobbly surface halting any football either side tried to play. The first chance fell on 13 minutes when a blocked Blair Spittal shot ricocheted the way of Shea Gordon. Having netted twice against Stenhousemuir, Shea looked for a third goal for the club as he shot from 20 yards. He found the target but a fairly central effort was tipped over the bar by Daniel Potts.
The away side’s next big opportunity fell in the 23rd minute as Kris Doolan went close to a first of the season. Miles Storey did well to keep the ball alive in the Rovers box before playing it across the face of goal. It fell to Doolan who tried to slam home into a ‘keeperless net but Albion number four, Barry Eley was on hand to block his effort.
Half chances for Slater, Spittal and Storer followed before Kris Doolan went very close once again just ahead of the break. A quick Thistle break saw a deep cross come in from James Penrice on the left. The delivery found the head of Kris Doolan at the back post and the Jags’ skipper tried to find the opposite corner with a looping header. His attempt looked sure to nestle into the corner of the goal but went just wide of Daniel Potts’ right-hand post.
So, the teams went into the interval with the game goalless. Thistle had huffed and puffed throughout the opening 45 minutes without threatening to blow the Albion house down. The hosts had sat deep and defended the box but done it well, dealing with most of Thistle advances and limiting the Jags’ shots on goal. Quicker transition from defence to attack would be great for the away side with the Maryhill men moving the ball a bit too slowly in the opening stages.
The second half started positively for the travelling Thistle side as Spittal and Storey both had half chances and Kris Doolan has a goal chalked off for offside with all this pressure coming good in the 59th minute when Alan Archibald’s side finally made the breakthrough. The ball came in from the Thistle left as Jack Storer delivered from the flank. He found Miles Storey who took a slightly loose first touch. Nevertheless, the ex-Swindon man was first to the ball and he fired confidently past Daniel Potts to secure his first goal of the season and put his team ahead at long last.
In the 71st minute, all at Cliftonhill witnessed a piece of Partick Thistle history. Jack Storer was forced off through injury and was replaced by Aidan Fitzpatrick. A product of the Thistle Weir Youth Academy, Aidan’s debut was significant as he is the first Jags player to make an appearance in the first team having been born in 2000 or later. A second change came shortly after as Andy McCarthy replaced Kris Doolan with Mes Storey moving into the centre forward role.
Thistle doubled their advantage in the 83rd minute as Aidan Fitzpatrick made another piece of Jags history. Having come on 12 minutes earlier to become the first player born in the 21st century to play for Thistle, he quickly became the first player born in the 21st century to score for Thistle as he slotted home the first professional goal of his career with seven minutes of the 90 left to play. It was Tam O’Ware’s long ball that searched for the youngster but he had to tell Miles Storey to leave it before he controlled the ball. A sublime first touch was followed by a confident finish as Aidan got off the mark as a senior player at just 17 years of age.
The visitors had one final chance to make it three as Blair Spittal took the final corner of the match on 88 minutes. The number seven’s delivery dropped in the box and Tam O’Ware smashes an effort goalwards but for the second time in a week, the centre half was denied a first competitive goal by the woodwork as his effort rebounded off the bar.
That was the final action of the game as the referee blew for full time at 2-0. A dominant and ultimately comfortable win for the Jags after a tough first half. Goals for Miles Storey and Aidan Fitzpatrick represented each player’s first of the season. The win means that Saturday’s clash with Ayr will be a group decider with the team who secures an outright win or penalty victory topping the group. That game is from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill and kicks off at 15:00.
THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Penrice, O’Ware, McGinty, Elliott, Slater, Gordon, Spittal, Storer (Fitzpatrick, 71’), Storey, Doolan (McCarthy, 80’).
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Keown, Wilson.
ALBION ROVERS TEAM: Potts, Smith (Wharton 71′), Forrester, Eley, Murdoch, McGeough, McLear, Gallagher (McMahon, 61’), Gracie, Watters (Fisher, 65’), Kearney.
UNUSED SUBS (ALR): Hallford, Cunningham, Watson, Green.