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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Celtic v Partick Thistle – 1st January 2014

There was a surprise or two in Alan Archibald’s first selection of the New Year. New loan signing from Sheffield United Lyle Taylor came in to make his Jags debut . Aaron Muirhead returned to the starting line up but not in his normal central defensive role; Aaron occupying a role in the heart of the Thistle midfield. There was surprise too that no place in the starting eleven could be found for either Kris Doolan or Steven Lawless. In Doolan’s absence Scott Fox took the captain’s armband.
The freshly installed Jags captain was in action inside the first minute when he was forced to tip a Pukki header over the bar that looked net bound.
Twelve minutes in and Scott Fox was again called into action diving full length to his right to keep out a well struck free kick from Commons from fully 30 yards from goal.
It was anything but one way  traffic, however, and it was Forster’s turn to make an important stop in the 14th minute. James Craigen won the ball in midfield and he fed the ball to Christie Elliott who in turn pushed the ball inside to Stuart Bannigan who tested the Celtic keeper with a low drive from the edge of the box.
Thistle were a whisker away from taking the lead in the 23rd minute. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair swung over a cross from the left hand side that Christie Elliott was able to connect with at the back post. The Thistle fans were ready to acclaim Thistle’s first goal of 2014 but Forster got just enough of a touch to Elliott’s header to keep the ball out.
Thistle were close again in the 34th minute when it took a touch from Forster to prevent a Craigen header from a Bannigan cross from finding the corner of his net and the pressure on the Celtic goal continued to mount with Thistle winning a number of corners in rapid succession.
It was very much against the run of play then when Celtic opened the scoring in the 37th minute. Thistle had been defending well with the home side, the first few minutes aside, rarely making any impression against the Thistle defence. It was a more direct approach that brought Celtic the opening goal; Joe Ledley finding the net with a crisply struck low drive from 25 yards.
It was Ledley’s goal that separated the teams at the interval with Thistle once again cursing their misfortune.
The game’s next goal was going to be all important and after a low key start to the second half Celtic had the first opportunity but a Ledley free kick from 25 yards out drifted harmlessly over the Thistle crossbar.
Thistle weren’t anywhere near the same threat in the opening stages of the second half as they had been for spells in  the first half and Scott Fox had to produce a smart save to push away a skidding effort from Commons.
There was no lack of belief in the Thistle ranks, however, despite not seeing as much of the vball in the Celtic half,  and shortly after Common’s near miss Thistle were able to break with pace and purpose only for Christie Elliott’s run to be halted, illegally in the eyes of the Thistle player, at the edge of the Celtic box.
Lyle Taylor put in a power of running during his Thistle debut, especially in the first half, but he understandably tired as the game progressed and he was replaced by Kris Doolan after 65 minute.
It was becoming an increasingly hard shift for Thistle as the second half progressed with Celtic enjoying longer and longer spells of possession. They were, however, only rarely able to trouble a resolute Thistle defence. Scott Fox well placed to save a tame Commons effort one of the few direct pieces of action that he had to contend with.
Forster was hardly hard pressed either with Christie Elliott, lively throughout the game, shooting well over Forster’s bar with the game drifting towards the final ten minutes.
Thistle were never out of this game and Steven Lawless saw a shot cleared from close to the Celtic goal line following a Stuart Bannigan corner before Elliott glanced a header wide of target as Thistle maintained pressure on the Celtic goal.
The level of support the magnificent Thistle fans provided their team with throughout the game spoke volumes for the Thistle performance but there was to be no tangible reward for a brave performance that was not lacking in quality.

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