Tuesday 10th July, 2012 at 8:40pm
After two weeks of pre-season training, Thistle returned to action at Recreation Park this evening with the final score of 2-1 in Thistle’s favour not an adequate reflection on what was a largely one-sided affair.
All four of Thistle’s summer signings, Steven Lawless, Aaron Muirhead, Hugh Murray and Sean Welsh, all started this match on Alloa’s excellent synthetic pitch. Indeed, while the overhead conditions were far from ideal, rain fell throughout the 90 minutes, the underfoot conditions were excellent and appeared to aid Thistle’s slick passing moves.
Pre-season friendlies rarely live long in the memory but there was enough action in this encounter to hold the attention of the Thistle fans who travelled through in good numbers despite the decidedly unseasonal weather.
The vast majority of the game was spent in and around the Alloa goal with Thistle first threatening the Alloa goal in the sixth minute when Stephen O’Donnell’s chipped cross into the box was met by Kris Doolan who glanced a header wide of goal.
Five minutes later Doolan was again in the thick of action when, after an impressive Sean Welsh had provided much of the spadework, he saw a shot take a deflection off a team mate and, with the Alloa keeper motionless, trickle just past the keeper’s left hand post.
Thistle were dominating proceedings almost entirely and Chris Erskine was handed a good opportunity to finally establish a lead for Thistle in the 24th minute but couldn’t quite manage to truly control a through ball from Stephen O’Donnell.
The opening goal though was delayed just another couple of minutes. Steven Lawless had impressed in the opening quarter of the game and his first goal in Thistle colours summed up his contribution to the game thus far. Neat and tidy, he collected the ball just outside the Alloa box and he found the back of the net with a crisp low finish.
That proved to be the only goal of the first half but Thistle missed numerous opportunities to extend their advantage. Bain in the Alloa goal making crucial interventions to deny Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan.
Manager Jackie McNamara took the opportunity to make five changes at the interval with Conrad Balatoni, Christie Elliott, Mark McGuigan, David Rowson and Aaron Sinclair all introduced to the fray.
It was the last named of that quintet that doubled Thistle’s lead just five minutes after the interval. Christie Elliott was fouled some 10 yards outside the Alloa box and from the free kick that followed, Sinclair curled the ball round the wall and into the bottom corner of the net.
2-0 nearly became 3-0 in Thistle’s very next attack with Christie Elliott’s finish, after a Sean Welsh assist, just a little too casual allowing the home keeper to save.
A rare raid on the Thistle goal produced an Alloa goal in the 61st minute. Blair Munn being on hand to knock the ball home after it had struck Scott Fox’s left hand post.
That though was very much an isolated incident with the remainder of the game again dominated by Thistle with a string of chances created. Indeed at times the Alloa keeper, Scott Bain, that stood between his team and a much heavier defeat with fine saves in particular from Mark McGuigan, after Christie Elliott had unselfishly set him up, and from Elliott himself.
Although the winning margin could, and probably should, have been greater this was a positive start to Thistle’s round of pre-season matches.