Saturday 16th March, 2013 at 9:33pm
Thistle made it two successive away wins in the league and kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game as they recorded an important 2-0 win over Hamilton Accies.
At a venue at which we have tended to struggle at Alan Archibald made just the one change to his starting eleven. A fit again Chris Erskine came back into the side with James Craigen dropping to the bench.
With sleet and snow falling heavily onto an already saturated New Douglas Park pitch there were pre-match concerns surrounding the underfoot conditions and it certainly wasn’t a playing surface that was going to lend itself to flowing football; the first half in particular proving to be a bit of a slog.
If anything it was the home side that were, marginally, the better side in the opening half but they were unable, unlike the two previous fixtures at the same venue this season, to score the all important first goal. Nor in truth did they overly trouble Scott Fox in the Thistle goal.
The closest they would come to scoring was an effort from full back Ziggy Gordon as early as the game’s fourth minute when his deflected effort went narrowly wide of goal.
Longridge dragged a shot wide and Fisher shot wide from the edge of the box but Scott Fox remained largely untroubled.
In the game’s opening thirty minutes or so, so to was his opposite number Kevin Cuthbert.
He should, however, have been picking the ball out of the net in the 39th minute. There were loud Thistle appeals for a penalty for handball but play continued with the ball breaking into the path of Chris Erskine. Erskine’s close range effort was blocked by Cuthbert with the ball spinning into the path of Steven Craig. Craig had to adjust his body to connect with the ball but he should still have done better than merely knock the ball over the bar with the goal gapping.
Fortunately Thistle didn’t have too long to wait before they did claim the game’s opening goal. There was a touch of good fortune surrounding it. Thistle won a couple of corners in quick succession and from the second Conrad Balatoni was able to divert Ross Forbes’ corner towards goal with the final touch apparently coming from Hamilton’s Stevie May.
That goal came just before half-time but there was still time for Hamilton to come close to an equaliser before the interval. Scott Fox pushed out a shot and May was on hand to loop a header back towards goal but thankfully Aaron Muirhead was in the right place to clear the ball from close to the Thistle goal line.
Thistle were in control for much of the second half but they had Scott Fox to thank for keeping the score at 1-0 in the 62nd minute when he did well to turn a Gary Fisher shot round the post for a corner kick.
It was Cuthbert though that was the busier of the two goalkeepers. He made an excellent save in the 68th minute to prevent Chris Erskine from scoring after he had been set up by Steven Lawless and he produced an even better save in the 83rd minute to deny sub Christie Elliott a goal after another assist from Lawless.
Christie though was celebrating a well deserved goal just a minute later and it was an absolute cracker. At the left hand corner of the Hamilton penalty box Elliott curled the ball beyond the grasp of Cuthbert and into the corner of the net.
That goal pretty much sealed the points for Thistle but Hamilton did manage to create a couple of late opportunities to at least register a goal. Mikey Devlin really should have done better than lift the ball over the bar when directly in front of the Thistle goal about 8 yards out and Steven May saw his shot blocked by Scott Fox who duly recorded his 10th clean sheet in this season’s First Division.