Saturday 27th October, 2012 at 9:05pm
Manager Jackie McNamara admitted prior to the game that his side’s 7-0 win over Airdrie United gave him a selection headache for this match. His final team selection showed that rather than change a winning side he kept an unchanged starting eleven; the only change coming on the bench where Hugh Murray replaced Paul Slane.
The opening match of the season between these two sides was marked by a whirlwind start with Thistle 2-0 up inside the first seven minutes. This match was somewhat slower in warming up. Indeed the first 45 minutes were as scrappy as any this season with neither side managing to retain possession of the ball for any meaningful period.
It was the home side that were the closest to a goal in a largely forgettable opening half. Stephen O’Donnell didn’t get enough distance on a defensive header in the 25th minute and when the ball was returned deep into the Thistle box David Weatherston was denied by the combination of Scott Fox, who took just enough of the pace off the ball, and Aaron Muirhead who cleared off the line at the expense of an unproductive corner kick.
That, a long range effort from Blair Alston that went well wide, was the only real moment of danger in and around the Thistle goal in the first half. Not that it was much different at the other end.
Stuart Bannigan, who come off injured and would be replaced by Aaron Sinclair in the first half, tested McGovern with a low shot at the Falkirk keeper’s right hand post but the best chance for Thistle fell to Steven Craig.
Chris Erskine was able to work the ball into Craig’s path to his left but with time and space inside the Falkirk box the normally reliable Craig scuffed his shot harmlessly wide of goal.
Sean Welsh did manage to get his shot on target, after Falkirk had struggled to clear a Ross Forbes cross into the box, but his well struck shot flew straight at a grateful McGovern.
Thistle never really managed to get into their stride during the first half but one good move, on the break, involving Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless, finished with Aaron Sinclair’s cross being grabbed at his near post by Michael McGovern.
The early stages of the second half weren’t a great deal livelier. Ross Forbes did manage to get a free kick from 35 yards out over the Falkirk wall but also cleared the crossbar as well.
Chris Erskine wasn’t enjoying the same degree of freedom that he had against Airdrie United but in the 56th minute he did find enough room to turn inside the Falkirk box but could only hit the side netting with his final shot.
Falkirk at times seemed content to try and frustrate Thistle but they twice came close in the 67th minute with Thistle thankful for timely interventions from Conrad Balatoni.
With the game in the final 15 minutes things finally started to open up. Christie Elliott was sent on in place of Steven Lawless and his first serious involvement in the game was to test McGovern with a low drive that the Falkirk keeper saved right at his right hand post.
There was no denying that Thistle were doing their best to wrestle three points from this game and a free kick at the right corner of the Falkirk box in the 84th minute provided them with a real opportunity to snatch what would surely be a winning goal. Chris Erskine’s free kick was able to find Steven Craig but under pressure Craig could only nod the ball over the bar.
At the other end a Darren Dods header slipped narrowly wide of goal as the home side tried to claim a winning goal of their own.
Neither side though could find a winning goal as the game ended goalless.