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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Ayr United v Partick Thistle – 4th August 2018

Partick Thistle kicked off their Ladbrokes Championship campaign for the 2018/19 term with a trip to Somerset Park this afternoon. Having faced Ayr last Saturday, losing 2-0, the Jags looked to get their revenge on the Honest Men as they travelled to Ayrshire for the season’s league opener.

Alan Archibald made two changes to the side which lost to Ian McCall’s team last weekend. Cammy Bell remained in goals, making his fourth consecutive appearance as a Jag. Thistle ever presents, James Penrice and Sean McGinty continued as part of the backline with Tam O’Ware and the debuting Max Melbourne completing the back four. Craig Slater sat at the base of a diamond to begin with behind Shea Gordon and Blair Spittal on either side of the shape. Chris Erskine began the game at the point of the diamond in behind the front two of Kris Doolan and Miles Storey.

The bench was a threadbare one for the away side with only four players named among the substitutes with those men being Jamie Sneddon, Niall Keown, Callum Wilson and Aidan Fitzpatrick.

The first action of the game came in the 8th minute as Thistle conceded within ten minutes as they had the week prior. Robbie Crawford latched onto the ball on the edge of the Thistle box before dodging into the area. Sean McGinty dangled a leg out in the direction of Crawford and caught the Ayr number eight, conceding a penalty. Lawrence Shankland stepped up to take the spot kick and after seven goals in four Betfred Cup games, there was no doubt that he was finding the net here. The ex-Aberdeen man sent Cammy Bell the wrong way, opening his account for the league season.

The next big chance of the match came after 20 minutes as Shankland doubled his and Ayr’s tally for the day. Tam O’Ware put in a strong challenge with the ball falling to Max Melbourne in the Thistle box but the West Brom loanee’s clearing pass went straight to Michael Moffat. The 32-year old played a lovely pass through to Declan McDaid in the box and the former Thistle man got his head up to pick out Shankland with a cut back. The striker took one touch before firing confidently into the net to make it 2-0.

The Jags came close to pulling one back just ahead of the break as Kris Doolan got on the end of Miles Storey’s cross after 42 minutes. Storey moved in from the left and tried a diagonal ball towards goal. He found Doolan but the number nine’s headed effort flew just over Ross Doohan’s crossbar.

Thistle had another opportunity just before the interval as Doohan was forced into his first serious save of the match. Craig Slater picked the ball up in the Ayr half and decided to have a pop at goal. The midfielder fired a low shot towards the bottom corner and, although he initially seemed to think it was going wide, Doohan got across to tip it round the post.

The teams went into the break with the score at 2-0 and the Jags were in desperate need of some respite. The hosts had been energetic and effective in possession while the Jags had looked lax and toothless going forward. Both goals were easily avoidable but the home side had been well worth their lead as the second half got underway.

Alan Archibald made a tactical change to begin the second half with the team going into a 3-5-2 arrangement with Max Melbourne and Blair Spittal as the wing-backs ahead of a back three including Sean McGinty, Tam O’Ware and James Penrice.

The change of formation didn’t help immediately though as Declan McDaid almost bagged his first of the new season three minutes after the restart. Andy Geggan had advanced down the right hand side before whipping in an excellent cross towards the far side of the box. McDaid was making a late run and met the delivery on the volley. His forceful effort rifled towards goal but was a yard or so off target in the end.

The Jags were looking for a penalty in the 59th minute as Chris Erskine flicked the ball forward in the Ayr box and the ball struck Jamie Adams. The Thistle players and fans alike were calling for a handball decision by Craig Thomson waves play on, unmoved by the red and yellow appeals.

Thistle then made their first and only change of the game as Aidan Fitzpatrick replaced Max Melbourne. The youngster almost made an instant impact too as he burst past Andy Geggan and Declan McDaid as he entered the Ayr box down the Thistle left. He tried to find a teammate as he fired the ball across goal but his delivery had too much on it for Kris Doolan and Chris Erskine who had joined him in the box.

Ayr weren’t far away from a third following some good work by substitute Craig McGuffie with 20 minutes left to play. McGuffie managed to wriggle past James Penrice with a clever nutmeg before cutting the ball back. His pass passed Shankland, finding its way to Michael Moffat who tried to bundle the ball home, however, Tam O’Ware made a vital block to deny the experienced forward.

The visitors last opportunity of the game came when James Penrice found himself in possession in the Ayr 18-yard area. The left back proceeded to drill the ball across the face of goal, with the pass going towards Doolan but Jamie Adams was on hand to clear the danger.

As such, the match ended 2-0 with the game massively disappointing for the away side who very rarely threatened the Ayr goal.

Alan Archibald’s must now regroup and prepare for next Saturday’s opening home game of the league season as Falkirk come to Maryhill after also losing today. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Melbourne (Fitzpatrick, 60’), O’Ware, Penrice, Slater, Gordon, Erskine, Spittal, Storey, Doolan.

UNUSED SUBS: Sneddon, Keown, Wilson.

AYR UNITED TEAM: Doohan, Geggan (Ferguson, 86’), Rose, Adams, Harvie, Crawford, Murdoch, McDaid (Docherty, 84’), Forrest (McGuffie, 67’), Moffat, Shankland.

UNUSED SUBS (AYR): Hare-Reid, Bell, McCowan.

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