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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

East Fife v Partick Thistle – 9th February 2019

Partick Thistle looked to get into the Scottish Cup quarter-finals for the second time in three seasons as they travelled to Methil to take on East Fife this afternoon.

The Jags came into the tie on a run of five games unbeaten with that set of fixtures including their fourth round win over Stranraer at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. On the flip side, East Fife had already beaten three Championship sides this season including the Jags themselves in the Irn Bru Cup.

Gary Caldwell made one solitary change to the side which triumphed in the highlands with Gary Harkins coming in for Blair Spittal with the number seven having to settle for a place on the bench having picked up a small knock.

Thistle’s formation didn’t change though with Conor Hazard in goal behind a back five of Christie Elliott, Jack McMillan, Steven Anderson, Steven Saunders and James Penrice. In midfield, the returning Harkins played alongside Stuart Bannigan and Craig Slater while Aidan Fitzpatrick and Miles Storey once again operated as inside forwards up front. On the bench for the visitors were Jamie Sneddon, Sean McGinty, Callum Wilson, Blair Spittal, Kris Doolan, Souleymane Coulibaly and Lewis Mansell.

The match began in a scrappy manner and it took 12 minutes for a real sight of goal to appear. The game’s first chance came for the away side when Craig Slater found Christie Elliott with a deep free-kick. The number two then tried to lift his head back across goal and over the hosts’ goalkeeper, Brett Long, however, his looping effort landed on the roof of the net.

The travelling Glasgow side had another headed chance on 22 minutes although it was Miles Storey acting as creator this time. He used his blistering pace to avoid East Fife challenges on the right flank before lifting a cross to the far post. The delivery held up in the strong wind and came to Aidan Fitzpatrick. Like Christie Elliott before him, Aidan tried to lift the header over the ‘keeper into the far corner but his effort only ended up going back across goal for Brett Long to gather.

Two minutes later the 17-year-old had another opportunity as he received the ball in the box from the right-hand side. He controlled well and shifted in-field looking for space to shoot before then shifting back the way he came to get the ball onto his stronger side. The number 21 fired low at the near post but Brett Long the goalkeeper was equal to it, holding comfortably.

The game then went into a lull which continued until the 39th minute when Rory Currie went close after some excellent footwork. The striker picked the ball up on the left of the Thistle box and then used a series of twists and tricks to bamboozle the Jags defenders who tried to stop him. Eventually, he took a shot but was unable to find the target from eight yards or so.

Shortly thereafter we had one of the games big talking points as Conor Hazard gave away an indirect free-kick. The incident began with Hazard’s attempted long kick up the park which was completely caught in the wind. As a result, it ended up coming back towards the Northern Irishman’s goal and he caught the ball. Referee, Don Robertson, quickly blew his whistle and signalled for the indirect set piece despite some protests from the visitors. Eventually, the free-kick was taken but Steven Anderson charged it down and deflected it behind for a corner kick which was subsequently headed over the bar by Darryl Meggatt.

As such, the sides went into the interval with game goalless after a half of weather influenced football. The harsh Methil winds had made for unattractive and scrappy football with the Jags struggling to battle the wind was blowing against them. A number of Conor Hazard’s punt’s upfield had been sent back his way, most notably the pass back incident at the end of the half.

Despite the wind being in their favour, the away side started the second half in the same way they ended the first; unconvincing. Their passing remained sloppy and East Fife were pressing high with Gary Harkins required to clear a header off the line in the 49th minute. Gary Caldwell then proceeded to make two quickfire changes as Steven Saunders was forced off with injury to be replaced by Kris Doolan on 56 minutes before Aidan Fitzpatrick made way for Blair Spittal three minutes later.

Just one minute after that second change, the away team should have taken the lead through Miles Storey. The opening came from some excellent work down the left by James Penrice who drove forward with pace from left wing-back before firing a low ball across goal. The delivery found Storey at the back post but the off-balance forward scuffed the ball into the turf as it bounced up and back off the bar before a shot from range was deflected wide for a corner.

The subsequent corner was whipped in by Craig Slater and just as he did at Inverness a week ago, he found Steven Anderson at the back post as the veteran defender nodded the ball home from a matter of seven yards. The goal was his second in two games since joining the Club on loan for the rest of the season from St. Johnstone.

East Fife pushed and pushed without reward for the remainder of the match with one of the only remaining moments of note coming when Miles Storey came off injured to be replaced by on-loan forward Lewis Mansell who was making his Thistle debut.

The Maryhill men had one final chance to put the game to bed as Kris Doolan fed Craig Slater on the right. Slater then cut inside and rifled a powerful effort towards goal but Brett Long stood strong at his front post, parrying the ball before it was cleared.

However, the Jags wouldn’t need another goal as the full time whistle went with the score at 1-0, securing Thistle’s place in Monday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final draw.

For Gary Caldwell’s side though, it’s back to league action next week with a trip to Alloa on the horizon. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Indodrill Stadium.


PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Hazard, Elliott, McMillan, Anderson, Saunders, Penrice, Bannigan, Harkins, Slater, Fitzpatrick, Storey.

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, McGinty, Wilson, Coulibaly.

EAST FIFE TEAM: Long, Docherty, Watson, Meggatt, Dunlop, Linton (Bell, 78’), Slattery, Davidson, Watt (Court, 68’), Currie, Dowds (Watson, 82’).

UNUSED SUBS (ESF): Terry, Dunsmore, Kane.

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