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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Celtic v Partick Thistle – 2nd January 2016

Thistle travelled to Celtic Park for the first fixture of 2016, looking to maintain the run of good form which had seen the side propel up the Ladbrokes Premiership table. With no wins at Celtic Park since September 1992, Alan Archibald’s side entered the fixture with positive momentum and a belief that today would see the side break another lengthy fixture jinx.

The manager made just the single change to the side which battled out a 0-0 draw with Aberdeen on Wednesday with Ryan Edwards being the unfortunate party to drop to the substitute’s bench. Sean Welsh, available once again after suspension, came into the starting line up as Alan stuck with the trusty 4-2-3-1 formation which has served the team so well in recent weeks.

Thistle started the game in confident fashion not allowing the home side to settle into any sort of rhythm with a high pressing mentality. It was from this confident start which saw the side win the game’s first corner after only 90 seconds, but Celtic were able to clear Stuart Bannigan’s delivery.

Celtic gradually came into the game but the Thistle side stuck to their task well, denying their opponents free opportunities in the final third of the pitch. When Thistle were breached, resolute defending stopped the path to goal and on the rare occasions that the ball advanced beyond the commanding presence of Dan Seaborne and Liam Lindsay, safe handling from Tomas Cerny proved more than equal to the attacking intents of Celtic.

Callum Booth was finding the left hand side of the pitch joyful and he linked up well with Steven Lawless who twisted on the edge of the penalty area. His right footed cross, intended for David Amoo, was just slightly overhit for the winger.

It was Lawless who had the best Thistle chance of the first half when from a Thistle corner, the ball fell to him just outside the penalty area before firing a volley just yards wide of Craig Gordon’s right-hand post.

Celtic were beginning to prove a more potent threat against the Thistle defence but strong, heroic defending saw efforts blocked before reaching Cerny. In particular a strong block by Lindsay after Ciftci seemed destined to bury the ball home, had Thistle goal-less as half time approached. The striker did find the back of the net, but he was a yard offside and the assistant referee raised his flag to rule out the strike.

There was to be one final piece of drama in the first half when Johansen spun his marker deep inside the Thistle penalty box. His cut back trundled across the six yard box but, thankfully for Thistle, no Celtic player gambled to poke the ball home.

The second half started with the game becoming extremely stretched as Thistle and Celtic looked for the opening goal of the game. Whenever the Hoops got the ball into the Thistle penalty area, Tomas Cerny was in position to take the sting out of the play with some safe, commanding handling.

Thistle were pin-pointing Efe Ambrose as the weak link in the Celtic defence and after he blundered from yet another piece of pressure by Kris Doolan, Sean Welsh was unlucky not to profit deep inside the Celtic half.

Seaborne had to save Thistle when Cerny was beaten, his block sending the ball away from Cerny’s goal before Bannigan was hauled back by Nir Bitton as he tried to spark another counter attack, earning the Celtic midfielder a yellow card.

Booth was next to test Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal with a right footed effort before Celtic went down to 10 men. Nir Bitton clattered into Gary Miller and referee Stephen Finnie deemed that to be a second yellow card, with Celtic spending the last 22 minutes of the game down to 10 men.

The loss of a man for Celtic seemed to disrupt Thistle’s momentum a little but Alan Archibald went for it with the introduction of Mathias Pogba for Sean Welsh as Thistle tried to use their one man advantage to maximum effect.

Celtic substitute Leigh Griffiths was beginning to have a personal battle with Tomas Cerny, with the goalkeeper proving more than equal to the deadly striker’s efforts on goal as the game entered the last 10 minutes.

Thistle almost snatched the first goal when Dan Seaborne connected with Stuart Bannigan’s corner, but his header was scrambled off the line by Kieran Tierney.

There was to be a sucker punch as the game entered its final chapter with Celtic stealing a win in a game Thistle didn’t deserve to lose. Tomas Cerny appeared to have Kris Commons’ shot covered, before it spun off Liam Lindsay. The ball looped high into the air, and directly into the path of Leigh Griffiths who fired the ball into the corner of the net from around six yards out.

It was a goal Thistle scarcely deserved to concede and brings to an end the unbeaten league run which had spanned for the previously two months. Thistle will take a break from league action next week to face St Mirren in the Scottish Cup. Thistle will be looking to use that as the spark for another long unbeaten run.

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