Saturday 18th August, 2012 at 8:50pm
After opening the league season in such impressive fashion against Falkirk, manager Jackie McNamara returned to the side that started that game after making six changes for the midweek Ramsdens Cup tie. The only change to the 16 from the Falkirk game came on the bench where there was a slot for Conrad Balatoni replaced Mark McGuigan.
It was the home side, in their first match of the season at East End Park, that were the first to settle on a breezy afternoon and in the third minute a swirling corner from the left escaped the reach of Scott Fox, but the ball drifted out for a goal kick.
Ryan Thomson was looking dangerous for Dunfermline and he had the game’s first shot on goal in the 13th minute but Scott Fox was able to watch the ball go wide and wasn’t required to make a save.
There were signs by this stage though that Thistle were beginning to get into their stride on an excellent East End Park playing surface. Chris Erskine was the first Thistle player to have a shot on goal but a deflection took most of the pace off his 20th minute effort allowing Gallacher to make a comfortable save.
Three minutes later though Erskine was involved in the heart of the move that saw Thistle take the lead. A dip of his shoulder gave Erskine space at the edge of the box and he threaded the ball through to Steven Lawless. Lawless still had a lot of work to do but he got the ball under control, turned towards goal and fired a low shot past Gallacher and into the net.
With Thistle in confident mood, Stephen O’Donnell surged forward from the back but his left foot effort was blocked by a defender. Dunfermline were struggling to contain Erskine and Lawless every time they got the ball and a swift Thistle counter attack involving Sean Welsh nearly reaped dividends but Erskine’s return pass to Welsh was just a shade too far in front of the Thistle midfielder.
At the other end Dunfermline only rarely were able to threaten the Thistle goal in the first half. There was anxiety when Thomson hit the deck inside the box after a sliced clearance from a Thistle defender but the referee wasn’t interested in awarding a penalty despite the Dunfermline player’s protestations
Thomson too was able to set up Joe Cardle right on half time but the Thistle defence were across swiftly to deny Cardle space and a shooting chance.
A goal to the good at the interval, Thistle were close to doubling their advantage in their first attack of the second half. Chris Erskine was able to touch the ball back into the path of the industrious Sean Welsh and his well struck shot was just wide of Gallacher’s right hand post.
Paul Paton wasn’t too far off target either with a shot from 25 yards in the 54th minute that took a touch off a Dunfermline player on its’ way wide of goal.
Dunfermline though were able to have Thistle under far more pressure than they managed during the first 45 minutes but they were frequently coming up against some resolute Thistle defending. Both Paul Paton and Hugh Murray was in the right place at the right time to head dangerous balls clear and Alan Archibald made a fine block to deny Willis at the edge of the Thistle box.
As had the previous week’s game with Falkirk, this was proving to be another good advert for the First Division and Dunfermline were expanding every ounce of energy in the attempt to find an equaliser. There was anxiety in the Thistle box in the 80th minute when a free kick into the Thistle box bounced dangerously about before an Andy Dowie shot was blocked by Aaron Muirhead.
A second Thistle goal would have eased the growing tension considerably and in the 84th minute Chris Erskine missed a glorious chance to all but seal the win. With just Gallacher to beat his composure deserted him and he dragged his effort wide of goal.
Three minutes later Erskine had another opportunity to add a second for Thistle but this time Gallacher was able to dive to his left and smother Erskine’s shot.
It didn’t, however, prove costly as Thistle held out for their second league win of the season.