Wednesday 27th February, 2019 at 1:01am
Partick Thistle were on the road again as they travelled to East End Park to take on Dunfermline Athletic in the Ladbrokes Championship. With Falkirk and Alloa not playing, the Jags knew a win would lift them from bottom to eighth in the table ahead of their Scottish Cup quarter-final against Hearts.
They did, however, come into the match off the back of a defeat, something which they last did on the 5th of January. That was because of a horrendous collapse against Ross County three days prior which saw them go from 2-0 up to 4-2 down in a matter of 45 minutes. On the other hand, the Pars were looking to make it three league wins in a row for the first time in their 18/19 campaign.
Gary Caldwell made two changes to the team which started against the Staggies on Saturday as his side returned to the 3-5-2 set-up. Conor Hazard continued in goals behind a back three of Jack McMillan, Steven Anderson and Steven Saunders who replaced the injured Stuart Bannigan in the line-up. James Penrice and Christie Elliott were the wing-backs with Craig Slater, Gary Harkins and stand-in captain, Blair Spittal acting as a three in midfield. Up front Kris Doolan played alongside Scott McDonald with the Australian making his first start in football since May of last year. On the bench were Jamie Sneddon, Sean McGinty, the returning Shea Gordon, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Souleymane Coulibaly, Lewis Mansell and Ally Roy.
The match’s first opportunity came after 11 minutes when Thistle’s wing-backs combined to force Ryan Scully into a good save. Christie Elliott was the creator in this scenario as his cross made its way over to James Penrice on the left via a flick on. Penrice struck the ball on the half-volley, keeping the effort on target but failing to beat ex-Jag, Scully, from ten yards or so.
The next big chance of the game came in the 34th minute as Bruce Anderson went close for the home side. After some slick play in the Thistle half, Louis Longridge got the ball to his strike partner, Anderson, who opened the goal up on his right foot. He tried to fire across Conor Hazard into the bottom corner but his shot skipped past the far stick.
Unfortunately for any neutrals watching, or indeed fans of either team, that was all there was to talk about in a pretty poor first half. Neither side had threatened in a consistent manner and 0-0 was the fair score going into the break.
That 0-0 scoreline didn’t last long in the second period though, as the hosts took the lead with 47 minutes gone. It came from a corner as a looping ball to the back post was headed down into the goalmouth area. No Thistle player was there to clear, allowing Bruce Anderson to fire home from close range.
The visitors then looked to put a more attacking emphasis on their shape as Aidan Fitzpatrick was brought on for Steven Saunders with the team going from 3-5-2 to a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. Gary Caldwell then made two further attacking changes on 65 minutes as Souleymane Coulibaly and Lewis Mansell replaced Scott McDonald and Kris Doolan.
Nevertheless, things didn’t get any better for the away side with Dunfermline making it two with 17 minutes left to play. Once again, it came from a corner with no knock down this time. The delivery landed on the head of Danny Devine who, against his former Club, found the top corner past a despairing Conor Hazard.
The Jags misery was compounded when Bruce Anderson grabbed another in the 85th minute to make it 3-0. Christie Elliott gave away possession 20 yards from the Thistle box and the ball was fizzed across the the area. It managed to evade any visiting boots, finding Anderson at the back post where he applied another easy finish.
That would be it in Fife as the Jags fell to consecutive defeats for the first time in 2019 also losing their first away match of the New Year. A missed opportunity for the Maryhill men as they failed to capitalise on a chance to move up two places in the Championship table.
Next up for Thistle is the visit of Hearts in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals as they look to secure a place in the Hampden semis at stake. Kick-off is 19:05 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill next Monday.