Wednesday 25th September, 2013 at 2:14pm
Thistle’s interest in this season’s League Cup competition ended with defeat against Dundee United at Tannadice; the 4-1 final score in United’s favour hardly an accurate reflection of the passage of play over the course of the 90 minutes.
Going into the game manager Alan Archibald made four changes from the side that had drawn 1-1 with Kilmarnock a few days earlier. Ross Forbes, Gabriel Piccolo, Mark Kerr and Christie Elliott all earning a berth in the starting eleven.
As they had done against Kilmarnock, Thistle made a brisk, positive start to the game winning the game’s first corner after just 22 seconds. Indeed over the course of the game Thistle would win no fewer ten corners and the general poor delivery from them was one of the frustrating aspects of the game.
There was frustration too that Thistle weren’t able to translate some excellent passing football into clear cut goal scoring opportunities. At times during the opening 45 minutes Thistle took a grip on the midfield and were able to dictate the play but rarely threatened the home goal.
With the score still 0-0 their best opportunities both fell to Ross Forbes. In the 15th minute he drilled an excellent cross into the United six yard box but no Thistle player was able to take advantage of it. Three minutes later Forbes had Cierzniak scrambling with a shot from 25 yards that went just wide of target.
At the other end Scott Fox had to produce a smart save to deny Brian Graham in the 28th minute in what was, to that point, the best chance of the game.
An even better chance would come United’s way just two minutes later and this time they took it. There was a touch of good fortune surrounding the goal with a slip from Conrad Balatoni presenting David Goodwillie with the opportunity but a striker of Goodwillie’s quality was never going to pass up an opportunity like that and he duly poked the ball home from about 10 yards out.
Thistle nearly drew level five minutes before the break. Kris Doolan was able to out muscle a United defender inside the penalty box but he couldn’t quite squeeze the ball home; the ball almost running along the United goal line but not dropping over the line.
Half-time was looming, and Thistle were starting to bemoan their misfortune in going in a half-time a goal behind, when they found themselves two goals behind. Goodwillie was again the scorer this time heading home a Wilson corner from the left.
There was no lack of effort from Thistle as they attempted to overturn a two goal deficit in the second 45 minutes but they again were unable to put the Dundee United goal under any serious pressure. Kallum Higginbotham did manage an effort on target just before the hour mark but although his shot was cleanly struck Cierzniak was well positioned to save.
James Craigen too had a shooting opportunity but he snatched at his effort with 12 minutes remaining after fellow sub John Baird had laid the ball back into his path.
Goodwillie was inches away from connecting with an Armstrong cross in the 80th minute and completing his hat-trick but five minutes later United did seal their place in the next round. Goodwillie saw his effort rebound off the base of the post but Thistle’s good fortune was short-lived as Ryan Dow was on hand to tap the ball home.
Thistle kept trying and John Baird was unlucky to see a shot cleared off the line although the decision to restart the game with a goal kick baffled most people inside the ground.
Thistle did get themselves on the score sheet when, with the 90 minutes all but completed, Christie Elliott created a chance for himself which he took with a neat finish.
It wasn’t, however, the game’s final goal. That arrived for the home side with the game in injury time. Thistle were caught on the counter attack following a poorly taken corner and when the ball was squared to David Goodwillie he duly completed his hat-trick with a confident finish low into the back of the net.