Sunday 17th March, 2019 at 9:25am
It was a trip to the Falkirk Stadium for Gary Caldwell’s Partick Thistle side as the Jags looked to secure a win which would take them above the day’s opponent, Falkirk, as well as Queen of the South, whose game scheduled to be played at the same time as Thistle had been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
There were two changes made to the team which started the Jags’ William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final replay against Hearts four days prior with injuries causing both of those alterations. Both Christie Elliott and Steven Anderson missed out; Elliott had picked up an ankle knock at Tynecastle while Anderson was forced to miss the game as he recovered from a concussion. Conor Hazard started in goals once again with Sean McGinty filling in for Steven Anderson alongside Jack McMillan and Steven Saunders in the back three. Blair Spittal deputised for Christie Elliott at right wing-back with James Penrice on the opposite flank. Stuart Bannigan and Craig Slater sat at the base of the midfield in behind Joe Cardle. Scott McDonald was given the nod up front again after two goals in two games alongside Lewis Mansell who was making his first start in the league as a Jag. On the bench for the Maryhill men were Jamie Sneddon, Shea Gordon, Gary Harkins, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Miles Storey, Kris Doolan and Ally Roy.
In Edinburgh on Tuesday, it took Thistle 16 minutes to take the lead but against the Bairns it didn’t even take that long. Stuart Bannigan’s knockdown allowed Blair Spittal to hit a brilliant long ball down the channel in the 10th minute, sending Lewis Mansell into the Falkirk box. The number 30 waited a few seconds as support made its way forward before firing a low delivery towards the back post where Scott McDonald was waiting. The Australian had to use his thigh to direct the ball on target but he did manage it and with Harry Burgoyne caught under the ball, it found the back of the net off the underside of the bar meaning the ex-Motherwell man now has three in as many appearances over eight days.
There was a big chance for the visitors to double their advantage after 23 minutes as James Penrice almost grabbed a rare goal. Once again the build began with Blair Spittal as he fed the ball to Joe Cardle on the Thistle right. Cardle then hit a cross into the box on the turn which was aimed for Lewis Mansell. The striker couldn’t direct the ball goalward under a lot of pressure but the ball carried through to the arriving Penrice at the back post. He tried a forceful effort on the half-volley but his attempt lasered over the bar by a few yards.
There was a third chance to get a second with 11 minutes to play in the first half as Steven Saunders sought his first league goal as a Thistle man. The defender was up for a Craig Slater corner and the number 17 delivered it right into the six-yard box where Saunders pounced. The centre-half tried to glance the ball into the far corner but he missed the back post by a yard or so as another chance went begging for the travellers.
Those missed opportunities would come back to bite them too, as Ian McShane levelled matters in the 43rd minute. Stuart Bannigan’s clearance fell to Paul Dixon half way inside the Jags half and despite some poor control the Bairns were able to move towards the Thistle goal with Deimantas Petravicius receiving the ball on the left. He drilled a terrific ball into the danger area where Ian McShane had ghosted into an excellent position and the former St. Mirren man fired the ball home, through Conor Hazard’s legs.
There was a chance for Falkirk to take an unlikely lead ahead of the break as Petravicius again delivered an accurate ball into the Thistle box, this time in the air. He found the head of Paul Paton who had the goal at his mercy as he looked to flick the ball into the corner, however, the ex-Jag glanced his attempt wide of the far stick.
Thistle re-established their dominance on the game in the second half and probably should have regained the lead on 56 minutes. James Penrice was the creator here as he lifted a well-weighted ball to the back post where Scott McDonald had found a yard of space. The on-form attacker only needed to hit the target and it would have been a goal but his header went down into the turf and bounced up over the bar.
Just after that chance, Miles Storey came on in place of Joe Cardle before Aidan Fitzpatrick came on for Lewis Mansell with 21 minutes to play.
Scott McDonald had another chance as a corner routine meant he found himself in space around the penalty spot as Craig Slater drilled the ball into his feet. The finish was not an easy one evidenced by the fact that the veteran goalscorer couldn’t hit the target from 12 yards or so.
Gary Harkins replaced Blair Spittal late on as Thistle continued to push for a winner but it wasn’t forthcoming and the Jags had to settle for a point in Falkirk once again. The game should have been won in the first half but missed chances came back to bite Gary Caldwell’s side as five slack minutes cost them at the end of the first half.
Up next for Thistle is a Firday night clash with Inverness under the floodlights in Maryhill. Kick-off is 19:05 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Hazard, Spittal (Harkins, 81’), McMillan, Saunders, McGinty, Penrice, Bannigan, Slater, Cardle (Storey, 57’), Mansell (Fitzpatrick, 69’), McDonald.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Gordon, Doolan, Roy.
FALKIRK TEAM: Burgoyne, McGhee, McKenna, Edjenguele, Dixon, McShane (MacLean, 65’), Paton, Osman, Keillor-Dunn (Jarvis, 65’), Petravicius (Kidd, 84’), Rudden.
UNUSED SUBS (FLK): Mitchell, Todorov, Robson, Waddington.