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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Celtic WFC v Partick Thistle WFC – Sunday 2nd April

Following on from last Sunday’s frustrating defeat to Hearts, the demanding schedule of top six fixtures continued for Partick Thistle as they made the journey to North Lanarkshire to face Celtic at the Excelsior Stadium.

To this point, it’s been a successful season for Fran Alonso’s Celtic who have dropped only 12 points throughout their league campaign in their chase of the coveted first place position. In previous encounters this season, ties against Celtic have been ones to forget for Thistle, who looked to rectify the goal deficit handed to them by the team in green and white.

Brian Graham’s squad selection for this fixture proved to be hindered through varying factors, being deprived of the services of Abbie Ferguson, who found herself ineligible for this fixture as a result of the opposition being her parent club. Injury forced both Rebecca McGowan and Cheryl McCulloch out of the matchday squad, with Claire Adams, Freya MacDonald and Leah Robinson slotting in to replace them and round off a Thistle starting eleven who knew their defensive work would prove prevalent in reducing the scoreline between the two sides.

And from the first sounding of the referee’s whistle, this demonstrated to be the case. Celtic were presenting a high attacking press as they made a number of runs at the Thistle defence before lifting the ball into dangerous areas of Cunningham’s crowded box.

Just minutes after kick-off Megan Cunningham was called upon as she punched the ball at stretched length from a Celtic charge down the wing, preventing the opener. Despite this, she and everyone else within the Thistle box could only watch as the ball proceeded to rattle her crossbar seconds later from a powerful long distance shot from Celtic’s Jacynta.

7 minutes into proceedings and the Jags’ showcased their first attack in where they managed to find the gaps in between the home formation, piecing together neat passages of play before the interception in the final third. The counterattack was at pace, leaving Claire Adams on her return to the starting eleven to come lunging in in front of goal to prevent the breakthrough. Celtic were posing a number of questions to Brian Graham’s side, but Thistle showed to have the capabilities to answer them all.

Minutes later, the ball found its way into the Thistle net but was flagged off for a foul in the build-up play. The ball was sent high over the Partick Thistle defence but in conjunction with it bouncing into the bottom corner, the referees whistle quietened the cheers around the stadium, allowing Thistle a chance to regroup off the back of a testing defensive period.
20 minutes in, the majority of play had taken place in the thistle third as the home side continued to press for the opener. Imogen Longcake put the vital block in to prevent the cross before the team made a collective effort that sent Celtic back out-with the box. On their return, Rosie Slater tracked back at pace to match Celtic’s Jacynta, successfully getting the foot in that was met with a resounding applause from both the away dugout and travelling away fans.

The scoring opened off the back of a promising Thistle attack in which they had  found the spaces of their opposition. However, upon this interception the ball was sent from the back to Celtic’s Amy Gallacher who got in behind before going one on one with Megan Cunningham, placing it beyond her reach and giving the league challengers the advantage.

The second half opened much the same as the first concluded, with Thistle having to continue to test their own limits on a defensive scale as a frustrated Celtic looked to double their lead. Minutes into its beginning, the eventual player of the match Megan Cunningham pulled out an impressive reactive double save from a ball that was ricocheting from close range before it’s trilogy was sent over the perimeter of the ground, allowing for the sting of the attack to fizzle out.

Continuing from a goal flagged offside for the hosts and substitutions from either side, Megan Cunninghams efforts were once more called on as she palmed the shot away from danger. Closely thereafter the home side doubled their lead in unfortunate circumstances for the jags as the final touch of the goal bound effort came off of Rosie Slater, redirected away from Megan Cunningham and into the back of the net.

It wasn’t the last time the ball would ripple the net in this fixture, meeting this fate a final time for Celtic before it was ruled off for a foul on Cara Henderson who lay across the goal line. Thistle had held off the pressure placed in front of them exceedingly well, they had match their opposition stride for stride, and as the minutes dwindled down, they still looked to make the push up the pitch.

With its sounding from the referee, and despite the two-goal difference, the effort on the park from Thistle represented what is looked for within a top six side, a sentiment echoed on the side-lines from Brian Graham who expressed his pride in his players. The fixture detailed the levels of progression within the team, who look to continue their push up the SWPL 1 table back on home soil against Rangers in 14 days’ time.

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