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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Greenock Morton v Partick Thistle – 16th February 2013

After a frustratingly long wait Alan Archibald finally managed to get his Thistle managerial career off and running in this eagerly anticipated clash between the First Division’s top two teams. Watching from a place on the substitute bench Alan looked set to make a winning start as his side established a two goal lead only for Morton to fight back and snatch a point and maintain their lead over Thistle at the top of the table.
Listing himself as a substitute was one of two changes that Archibald made to his side. His place in the heart of the Thistle defence went to Aaron Muirhead while the experience of Hugh Murray was preferred to James Craigen in midfield.
In front of a travelling support that numbered just a little under 2,000 Thistle looked a little nervous in the very early stages of the game but an opening goal as early as the 9th minute settled Thistle nerves somewhat. Aaron Sinclair’s cross from the left was gathered by Chris Erskine and he found the back of the net with a low drive. The fact the players ran to celebrate with their manager on the bench told you all you needed to know about the support he has with the players.
Morton no doubt stung by the loss of that early goal tried to hit back immediately and they were unfortunate not to be level in double quick time. A free kick just 10 yards outside the Thistle box was touched to the side for Peter MacDonald and his shot struck the top of the Thistle crossbar on its’ way over.
Indeed Morton responded well to the loss of the opening goal and in the 17th minute they were once again unlucky not to draw level. Michael Tidser was at the heart of most things for Morton and his quickly taken free kick was collected wide on the left by David O’Brien . His cross was an excellent one but MacDonald, from no more than six yards out, couldn’t find the back of the Thistle net.
For all their pressing Morton weren’t forcing Scott Fox into too much direct action but the Thistle keeper was required to make a fine block with his legs in the 26th minute to prevent O’Brien from levelling the scores after the Morton player was on the end of a defence splitting through ball.
Thistle though in the latter stages of the first half began to take a grip on proceedings with Hugh Murray prominent in the Thistle midfield. Chances though were limited. Aaron Sinclair did manage to get on the end of a Ross Forbes corner but there was little power in his header and Gaston was able to save. The Morton keeper was called into action again with half-time approaching. Chris Erskine set up Steven Craig with Craig’s cross from the right rather hit off Stuart Bannigan and Gaston was able to save at his right hand post.
Less than two minutes into the second half and Thistle did have a second goal. A Sean Welsh header from a Ross Forbes corner was cleared from close to the Morton goal line but Thistle retained possession of the ball. Aaron Sinclair was able to deliver the ball back into the Morton box and at the back post Steven Craig was left with the simple task of heading the ball into the back of the net for his third goal against Morton this season.
The outcome of the game though was back in the balance in the 58th minute. After striking the bar from a similar position in the first half Peter MacDonald had better fortune with a low drive after a free kick had been touched into his path; the ball skidding past the reach of Scott Fox and into the bottom corner of the net.
Now firmly back in the game Morton had their tails up but Thistle spurned a good chance to re-establish their two goal lead in the 66th minute. Stuart Bannigan’s cross from the left picked out Chris Erskine but Erskine’s header was a weak one and Gaston was able to save with a degree of comfort.
The longer the game went on the more intense the pressure from the home side became but Thistle were coping well with the long ball bombardment when, with just ten minutes remaining, the home side found themselves back on level terms. In attempting to block a shot the ball struck the hand of Hugh Murray and referee Norris pointed to the spot. After Murray had been booked, MacDonald made no mistake with a confidently struck penalty and the game was tied once more.
Four minutes later Hugh Murray’s afternoon got a little worse. He and Peter MacDonald squared up to each other in front of the Morton support and both players were shown a yellow card; with Murray already booked that yellow card was swiftly followed by a red one and Thistle were left to negotiate the time that remained with just ten men.
There were one of two anxious moments, in particular when the ball just wouldn’t fall for Martin Hardie inside the Thistle box with the clock showing 90 minutes played, but Thistle came through the time remaining without the loss of a further goal to collect a point that could prove significant come the end of the season.

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