Saturday 20th October, 2018 at 8:12pm
Partick Thistle began the Gary Caldwell era with a trip to the Indodrill Stadium to take on Alloa in Ladbrokes Championship action. Former Scotland international, Caldwell was appointed as the new Thistle boss on Monday afternoon and took charge of his first training session on Tuesday before taking charge of his first match as the gaffer today.
Caldwell made one change to the side which Gerry Britton and Scott Allison picked last Saturday but deployed the players in a different shape. It was the same goalkeeper and back four with Cammy Bell, Christie Elliott, Niall Keown, Sean McGinty and James Penrice forming the Jags’ defensive unit. In front of the rear-guard, Brice Ntambwe came into the side, replacing Blair Spittal and being joined by Stuart Bannigan and Craig Slater in the middle of the park. Chris Erskine started on the right with Miles Storey on the left while Kris Doolan filled the role of the lone striker.
The game started with very little goalmouth action as Thistle dominated proceedings without creating. It took 28 minutes for any chance of note to come but it did come to the controlling Jags. It was Miles Storey picking up the ball on the left wing and creating enough space to get a pass into the box. He found Chris Erskine who managed a shot but the number ten slipped as he struck the ball and it was blocked behind for a corner.
There was another half chance for the away side late in the half as Brice Ntambwe met a deep Craig Slater free-kick. The big Belgian managed to meet the delivery at the back post but failed to keep the ball in as his header flew into the stands.
That was it for the first half as neither team forced a notable save from their opponents’ goalkeeper. Thistle, despite dominating possession, had struggled to carve out any real opportunities. However, defensively they had looked much more assured and Alloa, like the Jags, hadn’t threatened to score.
That changed four minutes after the restart as Dario Zanatta fired the hosts into the lead. Alloa took a quick free-kick which was played out wide giving the home team a chance to get a ball into the box, which was exactly what they did. The cross came into the six-yard area and no Thistle player managed to clear. That allowed Zanatta the chance to shoot and he finished confidently at the near post to give the Wasps the lead with their first serious chance of the match.
Just three minutes after that opener, Alloa should have made it two through Kevin Cawley. A deep delivery into the Thistle box carried through to the back post and Cawley was the man in space with an opportunity to double the lead. The number seven tried to fire it into the roof of the net but ended up finding the back of the stand behind the goal.
Gary Caldwell then made his first substitution as Thistle manager as he handed Souleymane Coulibaly his debut for the Jags. The Ivorian replaced Miles Storey with just under 35 minutes left.
Just after that change, Kris Doolan had a chance to bring the visitors level. Sam Roscoe misjudged the flight of the ball and Doolan ran in behind down the right channel and tried a quick shot. His right-footed effort bent towards the near post but veered wide of the goal, causing Neil Parry no issues.
The away side’s second alteration came on 74 minutes as Jai Quitongo replaced Brice Ntambwe with Gary Caldwell looking for more attacking menace from his team.
Shortly thereafter, the Jags were nearly on terms again as Souleymane Coulibaly showed an example of what he can produce, forcing Parry into his first significant save of the game. The number 29 received the ball on the right side of the Alloa box and used some sublime skill to create a yard of space. The ex-Tottenham man then curled an attempt on goal with his left foot and it looked destined for the top corner, however, Parry was able to tip it over on the stretch.
Cammy Bell was then required to keep Thistle in the game as a speedy Alloa break led to a low cross which found Zanatta in the six-yard box. It looked a simple finish for the Hearts loanee but his effort was saved by the legs of Bell as Thistle got away with one.
Blair Spittal was then brought on for Chris Erskine in Gary Caldwell’s last throw of the dice with the number seven slotting into the midfield.
Half chances fell for Niall Keown and Souleymane Coulibaly but the elusive equaliser didn’t come and Alan Muir blew for full-time with the score 1-0 to Alloa. The hosts hadn’t created much but were efficient enough to take one of those few chances in stark contrast to the Jags who had controlled the game without creating much danger at all.
Thistle remain in eighth place and now build towards Gary Caldwell’s first home fixture against Ayr United next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, Keown, McGinty, Penrice, Ntambwe (Quitongo, 74’), Bannigan, Slater, Storey (Coulibaly, 56’), Erskine (Spittal, 84’), Doolan.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Melbourne, McCarthy, Mbuyi-Mutombo.
ALLOA ATHLETIC TEAM: Parry, Taggart, Roscoe, Graham, Dick, Robertson, Flannigan, Cawley, Zanatta, Shields, Trouten.
UNUSED SUBS (ALL): Henry, Peggie, Burt, Spence.
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