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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Forfar Athletic v Partick Thistle – 4th August 2012

Thistle went into the Scottish Communities League Cup First Round tie minus the services of Conrad Balatoni and Paul Paton, both of whom had been sent off against Berwick Rangers in the corresponding round in last season’s competition. Christie Elliott too missed out, the player suffering a bout of tonsillitis
On the plus side those absentees gave Aaron Sinclair a chance to return to the starting eleven and he slotted in at left back in a move that saw Stuart Bannigan push on into a role in the midfield. Scorer of the winning goal against Clyde, Kris Doolan, started this match with youngsters Bradley Halsman and Jonathon Black occupying places on the bench, the latter for the very first time.
Forfar had started their season with a notable victory over Dunfermline in the Ramsdens Cup and they opened this game, on their freshly installed artificial pitch, in a positive frame of mind and Scott Fox was called into action inside the first minute, saving low to his left.
Chris Erskine had Thistle’s first effort on goal and he wasn’t too far off target after collecting a pass from Aaron Sinclair in a move that suggested that Thistle might have some success down the left hand side.
Down the other flank, Kris Doolan was able to get on the end of Stephen O’Donnell perfectly judged pass in behind the Forfar defence but Doolan rather lost his footing and wasn’t able to force Scott in the Forfar goal into his first serious work of the afternoon.
Prior to the game Thistle manager Jackie McNamara had identified set pieces as being an area that Forfar could prove to be a threat from. There was anxiety, therefore, in the 12th minute when Forfar won a free kick 30 yards or so from the Thistle goal but Michael Dunlop wasn’t able to make clean contact with the ball and he dragged his effort wide of goal.
In the 17th minute Thistle, thanks to a splendid solo goal from Chris Erskine, took the lead. Erskine had the option of knocking the ball out wide to Stuart Bannigan, but spotting that Bannigan had strayed offside he elected to run at the heart of the Forfar defence himself and when clear he rifled a shot past Scott and into the net.
Thistle were close to doubling that lead in their very next attack. O’Donnell’s ball forward picked out Kris Doolan who timed his run to keep himself onside and it took a fine stop from Scott to deny Doolan a goal for the second week in a row.
While the home side remained a threat themselves, Thistle looked capable of opening up the Forfar defence every time they came forward. In the 28th minute Chris Erskine really should have made a better job of his cut back when in behind the Forfar defence and in the very next attack Sean Welsh rattled a shot off the post after collecting a pass from Hugh Murray.
Aaron Sinclair didn’t hit the post in the 35th minute but his angled drive couldn’t have been far away from doing just that after his pace took him clear of the increasingly hard pressed Forfar defence.
Steven lawless, however, made no mistake with a low drive in the 37th minute as the Forfar defence seemed to switch off for a vital second when Chris Erskine sent a ball into the box.
From a seemingly comfortable position Thistle suddenly found themselves in a spot of bother, quite literally, in the 43rd minute. Hugh Murray was judged to have tugged a Forfar player to the ground inside the box and while the award of a penalty was no real surprise the red card that was flashed in Murray’s direction was. Thistle though were able to maintain their two goal advantage when Gavin Swankie sent his penalty high over the bar and Thistle were able to take their two goal advantage into the dressing room at half-time, albeit with their numbers reduced.
The opening stages of the second half were obviously going to be vital and Forfar could scarcely have come closer to reducing the deficit just two minutes after the restart. Scott Fox was able to punch clear a corner but only as far as Keith Gibson whose first time shot from the edge of the box rattled the Thistle crossbar.
Despite being a man light, there was no sign that Thistle were going to try and sit in for the entire second half. There were loud shouts, mainly from the crowd, for a Thistle penalty when Kris Doolan found himself on the ground inside the Forfar box and an Aaron Sinclair effort drifted just wide of goal.
It wasn’t perhaps a huge surprise though that Thistle weren’t creating anything like the chances they did in the first half but clear cut chances for Forfar were rare as well, even though Thistle were starting to look a little careless at times. The home side were close to a goal in the 67th minute. Fotheringham swung over a corner that Bolochoweckyj was able to head goalwards and his header would have found the net had Stuart Bannigan not been in the right place to clear off the line.
A third Thistle goal would surely have sealed a spot in the next round and Sean Welsh was desperately unlucky not to score that goal when, for the second time in the game, he saw a shot rattle off the Forfar post.
Minutes later it was Stephen O’Donnell’s turn to see a shot bounce back from the frame of the goal.
With the game into its’ final 15 minutes Steven Lawless nearly found the goal that would have all but sealed the victory but after doing well to hold off the attentions of Dunlop he wasn’t able to hit target.
At the other end Scott Fox had had few direct efforts on goal to deal with but in the 77th minute he had to be at his best to keep out a Fotheringham free kick, struck with real venom from at least 30 yards out.
Most of the chances though continued to come Thistle’s way and in the 87th minute Stuart Bannigan saw his shot pushed round the post by David Scott.
A man down, Thistle’s second half performance was solid and professional after some sparkling football in the first 45 minutes.

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