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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Celtic V Partick Thistle – 5th April 2017

Following an important win against Ross County, Partick Thistle travelled to Parkhead to take on Celtic who were crowned Ladbrokes Premiership champions on Sunday after a rampant 5-0 win at Tynecastle. Meanwhile, the Jags were looking to take a further step towards a top six finish as the split edges ever closer.

Alan Archibald shuffled his pack by making five changes to the side that started against Ross County this past Saturday. Callum Booth, Ade Azeez, Daniel Devine and David Amoo all came into the starting 11 as well as Andrew McCarthy. The 18-year old academy product was introduced to the Firhill faithful when he came on as a substitute against Formartine in the William Hill Scottish Cup but made his first competitive Jags start at Celtic Park. Chris Erskine, Mustapha Dumbuya, Steven Lawless and 100-goal hero, Kris Doolan, all sat on the bench while club captain, Abdul Osman, missed out completely due to injury.

Celtic were the team to kick things off and it was the Hoops who controlled the opening stages. Brendan Rodgers’ men had plenty of time on the ball in the opening stages but were finding it difficult to break down what is fast becoming a notoriously resolute Thistle backline.

Celtic’s first real chance of the match came in the 21st minute. Emilio Izaguirre whipped in a free kick from the Hoops’ right flank looking for Nir Bitton at the back stick. He found his Israeli teammate but the midfielder couldn’t find the target with a header.

That opportunity seemed to spark Celtic’s creativity as they had another shot on goal in the 29th minute. Eboue Kouassi skipped past Adam Barton before unleashing an effort from 25 yards, however, the ex-Krasnodar man’s shot flew 10 yards over Tomas Cerny’s goal.

It would be the visitors with the next chance of the match, 33 minutes in. David Amoo played the ball to Callum Booth on the left wing and the full-back whipped a cross low across the box looking for Ade Azeez. The ball was sent flying into the stands and it seemed that the covering defender had made a terrific last-ditch block to deny the striker a clear shot on goal from six yards out but the referee awarded Celtic a goal kick much to the Jags players dismay.

Patrick Roberts was next to have a go at scoring the opener as he was fed the ball on the edge of the Thistle area. He shuffled onto his left side before attempting to curl home into the far corner. Unfortunately for the former Fulham wide-man, his shot was claimed safely by Tomas Cerny.

With the interval less than a minute away, Tomas Cerny was forced into another save. Nir Bitton found himself in space, 30 yards from goal, and opted to have a pop. The Celtic man’s shot was dipping and swerving and Cerny had to focus on getting something behind it and that he did, parrying the shot away from danger in what was the last act of the first 45 minutes.

Going into half time, the score was goalless. Celtic had been, by far, the better side in the opening period but were unable to capitalise on their dominance and the strong Jags defence had held up well. Tomas Cerny had to make a couple of saves but both were saves that you would expect the Czech stopper to make. Young Andrew McCarthy had done a sloid job in midfield on his Ladbrokes Premiership debut, tackling the ball and making sure he wasn’t wasteful in possession. With options such as Steven Lawless, Kris Doolan and Chris Erskine on the bench, there was certainly a lot to play for in the second half.

After holding out well for the entire first half, the Thistle backline was broken down just five minutes into the second period. Patrick Roberts played a smart pass through to Scott Sinclair who found himself in behind the Jags defence, inside the Thistle box. The attacker then lifted a shot over and past the outrushing Tomas Cerny and into the far corner, putting the Ladbrokes Premiership champions into the lead.

In the 55th minute, Alan Archibald made his first change of the match as Thistle’s resident centurion, Kris Doolan, replaced David Amoo.

One minute short of the hour mark, the Celts had a good chance to double their lead. Eboue Kouassi fed the ball into Callum McGregor who was stood on the edge of the away side’s 18-yard box. The young Scot then jinked onto his left before shooting towards goal but his attempt was blazed far over the bar.

Celtic would be made to rue their missed opportunities as Thistle equalised in the 64th minute. Christie Elliott found space on the right wing before curling a low cross towards the front post looking for Ade Azeez. The ball found the striker and Azeez was able to redirect it into the far corner past Craig Gordon. The strike brought the Maryhill men level and was the Jags’ first Celtic Park goal since November 2003.

As the travelling Thistle contingent were sent into ecstasy, they were brought crashing back down to earth two minutes later when their side conceded a penalty. Christian Gamboa was played the ball in the area and as he played a ball across the box he was taken down by Callum Booth. The referee immediately pointed to the spot as the left back chopped down his Costa Rican opponent.

Scorer of Celtic’s first goal, Scott Sinclair, stepped up to take the spot kick. The forward tried to pick out the top left corner but Tomas Cerny made a heroic dive to his right to turn the ball away from goal with two strong, outstretched hands to keep things level.

With 18 minutes left to play, Andrew McCarthy’s night came to an end. The midfielder was taken off having put in a great shift, especially considering that he had played 60 minutes for the development side on Monday night. The 18-year old was replaced by Chris Erskine.

There was one last big chance for the game to be won and it fell to the visitors. Chris Erskine managed to get away from Erik Sviatchenko and slotted Ade Azeez through. The pacey striker then moved into the box and got a shot away but a recovering Celtic defender made a sliding block to deny the 23-year old another goal.

Celtic threw everything they had at the Jags late on but they were unable to create any meaningful opportunities and the game ended at 1-1. After the hosts took the lead through Sinclair, Ade Azeez brought the away side level before Tomas Cerny’s spot kick heroics kept the score that way.

Thistle remain four points clear of the bottom six with two games now to play and if Kilmarnock fail to win at Celtic on Saturday then the Jags’ top six status will be confirmed. If Killie do win at Parkhead this weekend then a win against Motherwell at Firhill for Thistle would also confirm a top half finish for the Firhill side.

The aforementioned Motherwell clash takes place at Firhill and kick off at 15:00.

THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Elliott, Keown, Lindsay, Devine (C), Booth, Barton, McCarthy (Erskine, 73’), Edwards, Azeez, Amoo (Doolan55’).

THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Ridgers, Dumbuya, Lawless, McLaughlin, Nisbet.

CELTIC TEAM: Gordon, Lustig, Siminuvic, Sviatchenko, Gamboa, Koassi (Rogic, 62’), Bitton, McGregor (Aitchison, 77’), Izaguirre (Armstrong, 62’), Sinclair, Roberts.

CELTIC SUB (N/U): Bailly, Toure, Henderson, Tierney.

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