Wednesday 29th October, 2014 at 10:05am
Thistle made the short journey across the city to face a Celtic team, in the middle of a busy schedule, hoping to progress to the semi-finals of the League Cup. Alas it was to prove a fruitless trip which did not pass without the odd hint of controversy. Thistle gaffer, Alan Archibald, made a couple of changes to the team which had drawn 0-0 with St Johnstone. Nathan Eccleston replaced Kris Doolan after his goalscoring exploits against St Mirren while Frederic Frans dropped to the bench being replaced by Dan Seaborne who was free from his suspension. It was a large and hopeful Jags support who made the journey and made plenty of noise throughout the game.
The home side kicked off, with the Jags defending the goal backed by the noisy away support hemmed into the corner. It was Celtic who were the first to threaten from a corner but Fox caught Denayer’s header easily after three minutes. Thistle hit back when Stuart Bannigan collected a loose pass in midfield from the home side and drove forward before firing just over the bar from 25 yards. Bannigan then did well in midfield to create space and move forward finding Eccleston who bamboozled Denayer before his dangerous cross was scrambled clear by the Celtic stoppers. Shortly after, the home side missed a glorious chance when slack play allowed McGregor to fire a great cross into the box and pick out Stokes who headed wide from only six yards out. Thistle hit back as Osman found Eccleston whose lay off to Craigen saw the midfielder fire narrowly wide.
Celtic did eventually open the scoring after 30 minutes, when Brown went down very softly from an Osman challenge and Guidetti fired the free kick over the wall and past Fox to make it 1-0.
Controversy reigned just before half time when Bannigan slid in on Guidetti, winning the ball, however the Celtic striker’s reaction paired with his team mates’ reaction suggested otherwise and referee Clancy produced a red card – much to the astonishment of every Jags fan and player in the ground. It seemed a very harsh decision but the man in black was, unsurprisingly, not moved by the protests.
It only took a couple of minutes of the second half for the home side to increase their lead. Izaguirre fired home after a neat flick from Guidetti and it was to get worse just three minutes later. Balatoni conceded a free kick 25 yards from goal and Guidetti stepped up before once again firing a magnificent strike from 25 yards to make it 3-0. Thistle were now struggling and in the 54th minute Osman was penalised for a challenge in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Guidetti completed his hat trick from 12 yards to make it 4-0.
Higginbotham and Doolan replaced Lawless and Eccleston while Griffiths replaced Stokes for the home side. It only took Griffiths three minutes to make an impact when he got on the end of a cross at the back post to power his header past a helpless Fox who was left completely isolated. The home side were now rampant and you feared every time they attacked the Thistle goal. Van Dijk saw a curling effort go inches wide of the post before a poor back pass put Fox under severe pressure and his clearance was blocked by Griffiths with the resulting ricochet rolling into the empty net to make it 6-0.
A night that had promised so much at the start unfortunately turned into a very bad dream for players and fans alike. Nevertheless the better and more clinical team won on the night and Thistle eyes returned to the league.