Saturday 29th September, 2018 at 12:22am
Following home success against Queen of the South last Saturday, Partick Thistle were on the road again as they travelled to East End Park. The Jags arrived in Fife four points clear of Dunfermline with their hosts having won just one game in six. However, the Maryhill men were still looking for their first away points of the 2018/19 campaign having suffered three consecutive defeats on their travels.
Alan Archibald made just one change to the side that beat the Doonhamers last time out but that change did bring a different formation with the Jags deploying a 3-4-3 set-up. Cammy Bell remained in between the sticks behind a back three which consisted of Niall Keown, Tam Scobbie and Sean McGinty. Christie Elliott and James Penrice operated as wing-backs while Stuart Bannigan and Craig Slater occupied the centre of the park. Last week’s match winner, Blair Spittal, started on the right while Miles Storey was on the opposite wing and Kris Doolan played through the middle. On the bench were Jamie Sneddon, Max Melbourne, Brice Ntambwe, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Andrea Mutombo, Chris Erskine and Jai Quitongo.
The game was an extremely poor one in the opening stages with neither team showing much creativity or drive. It took 38 whole minutes until the first proper chance of the game and it fell to Thistle number seven, Blair Spittal. The midfielder pounced on a loose pass in the Dunfermline defence as Mark Durnan was caught out. Spittal then quickly looked to fire home into the far corner but he dragged the shot and it skipped past the back post.
Dunfermline did have one half chance before the break as Lee Ashcroft’s looping header was tipped over the bar by Cammy Bell. The Jags ‘keeper was backpedalling towards his goal-line and decided to take no risks by touching the dipping ball over the bar.
That would, however, be it for the first 45 as the game went into the break. Not much of a spectacle for the watching neutrals but a much improved defensive display for the away side with the team seamlessly changing to the three-at-the-back.
Nine minutes into the second half, Thistle had another chance to take the lead. Blair Spittal was once again involved although the ex-Queen’s Park man turned provider on this occasion. He found Kris Doolan with a driven pass as the striker moved towards the Pars’ box. His first touch was poor and the number nine was forced wider than he’d have liked, although he did get a shot in. His left-footed attempt found the target but only met the gloves of Lee Robinson who parried before collecting at the second attempt.
The first Thistle change of the game came on 67 minutes as Jai Quitongo replaced Kris Doolan.
Unfortunately, almost immediately after that alteration, the hosts were able to take the lead. Christie Elliott attempted to take the ball down in the box after a block but the defender’s touch spun off his boot and into the path of Aidan Connolly who fired home from close range with Cammy Bell left with nothing to do about it.
Alan Archibald then made two quickfire changes as he introduced Chris Erskine and Andrea Mutombo in place of Tam Scobbie and Blair Spittal respectively. However, despite this, it was still the Pars who were having the chances. Aidan Connolly came very close to a second as he got on the end of a low cross in the 83rd minute. The number 11 found himself at the back post with what seemed an easy finish but he hit the post from close range.
Late on there were two chances for the Jags to draw level and they both fell to Andrea Mutombo. The first one came from Craig Slater’s cross and Mutombo forced a great save from Lee Robinson while his second effort beat the ‘keeper but was cleared off the line.
In the end, the match finished 1-0 to the home side with a scrappy game being decided by one error. The dreadful first half was tight as could be but the goal from Aidan Connolly really boosted the Pars and they could easily have added to their lead. However, the Jags had two decent chance in the dying embers of the game which they couldn’t take as their torrid away form continues.
Thistle return to action next Saturday back at home as they take on Ross County. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, Keown, Scobbie (Erskine, 73’), McGinty, Penrice, Bannigan, Slater, Spittal (Mutombo, 78’), Doolan (Quitongo, 67’), Storey.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Melbourne, Ntambwe, Fitzpatrick.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC TEAM: Robinson, Craigen, Durnan, Ashcroft, J. Longridge, Martin, Vincent, Connolly (Hippolyte, 90’), El Bakhtaoui, L. Longridge, Ryan (Thomson, 80’).
UNUSED SUBS (DFA): Gill, Devine, Beadling, Williamson, Muirhead.
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