Saturday 10th February, 2018 at 5:22pm
Off the back of four league games in two and a half weeks, Partick Thistle returned to William Hill Scottish Cup action with a trip to Parkhead. Having defeated Queen of the South in the last round of the competition, the Jags faced a very different challenge as they travelled to take on the champions of Scotland.
Alan Archibald made four changes to the side who fell to defeat against the Gers during the week. At left-back, James Penrice dropped to the bench to be replaced by the returning Callum Booth who had missed Thistle’s previous two games with a knock. Adam Barton came into the side for Abdul Osman, who began the match on the bench having started five games since his return from injury. In the attack, Miles Storey and Conor Sammon came out of the starting line-up to take a place each on the bench with Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan replacing the duo up top.
Prior to the game, both sets of fans participated in a minute’s silence in remembrance of Liam Miller who came through Celtic’s youth system in the late 90s.
Playing away at the treble-winning Hoops, Thistle would be looking for a strong start to weather any early storm from their hosts, however, the Jags fell behind within 120 seconds. The goal came from a miskicked clearance by Baily Cargill who slipped as he tried to fire the ball up-field. As a result, the ball went straight to Scott Brown and the Celtic captain hit an early ball forward. Moussa Dembele brought the ball down and shot but saw his attempt blocked. The loose ball then fell to James Forrest who poked it home from close range.
Things got worse quickly for the Jags too as Celtic made it 2-0 on nine minutes. James Forrest picked up the ball in the centre of the park and made a driving run towards the Thistle box during which he was virtually unchallenged with the Jags’ defenders backing off the winger. Forrest then fired a shot on goal from around the edge of the box and the Celtic number 49 found the corner of the net.
Suddenly, having conceded twice in the opening ten minutes, it seemed as if Thistle were down and out, however, the Jags were gifted a route back into the game by Jozo Simunovic. The Celtic centre-half brought down a long ball and tried a backpass to his goalkeeper, Dorus de Vries. The defender’s pass was short, though, and the ever-alert Kris Doolan was there to lift it over the head of de Vries, grabbing his 112th Jags goal on his 350th appearance in the red and yellow of Partick Thistle.
The Jags came into the match after the Doolan goal but neither side really created much in the remainder of the first half as the game went into the break at 2-1. A shocking start may have left Thistle fans fearing a one-sided 90 minutes but since Kris Doolan’s goal, the visitors had matched their hosts. The Jags would be looking to continue their improved performance with the hopes of getting at least a draw from the game.
At the start of the second period, Thistle didn’t seem to have learned from their first half failings as Celtic netted a third within ten minutes of the restart. This time it was an excellent ball in behind the visitors’ backline which led to the goal as Kieran Tierney found Scott Sinclair with a threaded through ball. The winger then cut the ball back to James Forrest who wriggled away from his marker before slamming home from six yards out to restore his side’s two-goal lead.
Within ten minutes of the Celtic third, Alan Archibald made a pair of changes as he tried to get his side back into the game. Adam Barton was replaced by Abdul Osman in the midfield while Kris Doolan came off for Conor Sammon who scored twice in the previous round of the Scottish Cup against Queen of the South.
Scott Sinclair passed up an excellent opportunity to put the game to bed in the 77th minute as the number 11 saw a shot saved by Tomas Cerny. Scott Brown won a midfield duel with Martin Woods before then playing the ball in behind Thistle’s rear-guard with Sinclair bursting through. The former Aston Villa and Swansea man ran onto the ball and had a one-on-one with Tomas Cerny. He tried a shot but his effort was straight at Cerny who held safely.
One minute after that chance, Thistle made their final substitution of the day as Martin Woods made way for Andrew McCarthy.
The Jags were able to pull one back and make the closing stages interesting as Conor Sammon netted his seventh of the season on 83 minutes. Chris Erskine lifted a ball forward looking for the diagonal run of Sammon who was battling with Jozo Simunovic as he looked to reach the pass. Reach he did, though, and the Hearts loanee fired an excellent half-volley back across goal, finding the far corner and beating Dorus de Vries.
Thistle would have one last chance to draw level and take the game to a replay in added time through Australian midfielder, Ryan Edwards. Chris Erskine won possession on the away side’s left wing with a great slide tackle before whipping a tantalising cross into the six-yard box. His delivery found Ryan Edwards so seemed destined to simply tap home from a couple of yards out but the number 19 was denied by an exceptional defensive block by Kieran Tierney which allowed Dorus de Vries to collect.
That would prove to be the final opportunity of the game as Thistle now find themselves out of the William Hill Scottish Cup. As such, all focus is now on the league and the Jags return to league action with a crucial game against Dundee next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, McGinn, Devine, Cargill, Booth, Barton (Osman, 55’), Woods (McCarthy, 78’), Spittal, Edwards, Erskine, Doolan (Sammon, 59’).
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Dumbuya, Penrice, Storey.
CELTIC TEAM: de Vries, Lustig, Simunovic, Ajer, Tierney, Brown, Ntcham, Forrest (Kouassi, 87’), Musonda (McGregor, 65’), Sinclair (Edouard, 79’), Dembele.
UNUSED SUBS (CEL): Bain, Gamboa, Miller, Rogic.
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