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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Inverness CT v Partick Thistle – 15th September 2018

After exiting the Irn-Bru Cup last weekend at the hands of East Fife, Partick Thistle redirected their focus back onto the Ladbrokes Championship as their league campaign continued with their first trip to the Highlands this season to take on Inverness. The Jags were looking for their first league win on the road this term as they took on the undefeated Caley Jags. John Robertson’s side came into the game two points clear of Thistle in second place and represented the division’s last remaining unbeaten team.

There were five changes to the side that lost out at Bayview seven days ago as Alan Archibald made alterations in every sector of the pitch. Cammy Bell regained his starting berth from Jamie Sneddon who dropped to the bench while Sean McGinty returned to the line-up in place of Tam Scobbie. James Penrice, Niall Keown and team captain, Christie Elliott completed the backline. Brice Ntambwe and Craig Slater retained their places at the base of midfield while Chris Erskine and Blair Spittal replaced Jack Storer and Aidan Fitzpatrick in behind the striker. Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo was once again out on the wing with Miles Storey straight back into things as the centre forward. The bench was made up of Jamie Sneddon, Max Melbourne, Daniel Jefferies, Stuart Bannigan, Aidan Fitzpatrick, Kris Doolan and Jai Quitongo who was making his first appearance in a Thistle squad having signed for the Club on deadline day.

The Jags started the better of the two sides with some good play to open the game but they only mustered one half chance from the early dominance. Blair Spittal received the ball following a cleared corner and the number seven took a pop at goal after evading his man. His attempt took a sizeable deflection and looped towards goal with Mark Ridgers being required to tip it behind for a corner.

However, Thistle were punished for not making more of their possession early on as the home side took the lead with their first attack of note. Liam Polworth found himself a bit of space on the edge of the box and the midfielder opted to shoot from 20 yards. The unsighted Cammy Bell did well to tip the ball onto the post but when the ball broke back into the danger area, it was Jordan White who was on hand to head home the rebound.

Furthermore, the Highlanders would go on to make it two as Shaun Rooney doubled their lead in the 22nd minute. A corner was delivered deep into the box and the ball was knocked back in towards the six-yard area by Coll Donaldson. Cammy Bell got a hand to it but could only push it as far as Shaun Rooney who converted from ten yards with a well-controlled, right-footed volley.

It didn’t get any better for the travelling Jags quickly as the clinical hosts grabbed a third after 32 minutes. On this occasion, Brice Ntambwe was caught on the ball, allowing Liam Polworth to burst forward, in on goal. Eventually, as the Polworth and Ntambwe entered the box, the Belgian brought his man down with the referee pointing straight to the spot. It was former Jags midfielder, Sean Welsh, who stepped up to take the spot kick and as he did on a number of occasions in the red and yellow, Welsh coolly slotted the penalty home.

After a poor first 36 minutes of the game, Alan Archibald decided to make a change in the midfield as he replaced Brice Ntambwe with Stuart Bannigan as he looked to inject a bit of life into his side. Stuart came on to make just his second appearance of the season having returned to the side two weeks prior against Morton.

Following that change, the away side were presented with an immediate route back into the game as they were awarded a penalty of their own in the 40th minute. The ball was fed into Miles Storey at the very edge of the box and the number 19 went down under a bit of pressure from behind. The referee did not hesitate to point to the spot and Storey stepped up to take the penalty that he had won. However, the former Inverness attacker was unable to beat Mark Ridgers from 12 yards as the ‘stopper guessed the right way before Miles fired the rebound wide of the target. Two minutes after the penalty, the home side were forced into a change as goalscorer, Shaun Rooney came off with an injury to be replaced by Jamie McCart.

The teams entered the break with the score at 3-0 and the Jags had really gifted their hosts that lead after a lively start away from home. Inverness’ chances had been limited to mostly efforts from range but whenever a chance fell in the 18-yard box, they were taking it and that’s what had earned them their advantage. Thistle had produced some solid patterns of play at times but had failed to penetrate a stubborn Caley Jags backline regularly enough.

The second half started more positively for the Maryhill men with plenty of the ball and a small selection of half chances but once again they were failing to trouble Mark Ridgers. In an attempt to inspire some attacking creativity, Kris Doolan was brought on in the 55th minute to replace Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo.

In the 59th minute, Thistle tried to haul themselves back into things by grabbing one deficit-reducing goal. A Craig Slater delivery into the box caused havoc for the home side as Niall Keown and Kris Doolan both looked to divert the ball towards goal. In the end, it broke for Chris Erskine, however, the number ten’s efforts were blocked before the ball was scrambled clear.

With 20 minutes to go, Thistle made their final change as Jai Quitongo replaced Miles Storey. Quitongo’s appearance represented not only his Jags debut but also his return to senior football for the first time since January when he played and scored for Morton in the Scottish Cup against Dunfermline at East End Park.

The men in red and yellow would pull one back in the 82nd minute as Blair Spittal netted his first of the new competitive season. Craig Slater delivered a teasing right-footed ball in from the Jags’ left flank and Jamie McCart made a hash of the clearance. Spittal was the beneficiary as the midfielder took a touch to open it up before finding the bottom corner with the help of a slight deflection.

The visitors could easily have had another back in the 84th minute as Christie Elliott popped up at a corner. Initially, it was Jai Quitongo’s deflected shot which won the set play and when it was whipped in, team captain Elliott met the delivery with a late run. Unfortunately for the Englishman, his contact wasn’t as strong as was necessary and his glanced effort skipped out for a by-kick.

In the 88th minute Inverness were dealt a blow as, having already made three changes, they saw George Oakley go down holding his hamstring. The attacker had replaced Jordan White earlier in the match but he was forced off and as such, the Caley Jags were left with ten men for the closing stages.

As the game entered added time, Thistle had another chance to make it 3-2, this time through Chris Erskine. Stuart Bannigan picked the number ten out with a terrific through ball which got Erskine in on goal. The Jags’ joint top scorer tried to lift the ball across goal, over Mark Ridgers but the ex-Hearts ‘keeper did well to stand up and block the shot.

The Maryhill men would get their second as Kris Doolan found the back of the net deep into the allotted injury time. The ball broke to Blair Spittal in the box and Blair decided to drill a shot-come-cross into the six-yard box. To his credit that’s where Kris Doolan was waiting and the Thistle legend reacted quickly to divert the ball high past Mark Ridgers with no hint of it being disallowed this time round.

However, that was to be the final attack of the game with the game ending 3-2 to the Highlanders. Thistle’s first half performance left much to be desired and was what ultimately cost them as they were unable to recoup anything from the contest in the second half.

For Alan Archibald’s side, they now look towards next week’s clash with Queen of the South as they return to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Kick-off is 15:00 in Maryhill.

PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, Keown, McGinty, Penrice, Ntambwe (Bannigan, 36’), Slater, Spittal, Erskine, Mbuyi-Mutombo (Doolan, 55’), Storey (Quitongo, 70’).

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Melbourne, Jefferies, Fitzpatrick.

INVERNESS CT TEAM: Ridgers, Rooney (McCart, 42’), Donaldson, McKay, Tremarco, Welsh, Chalmers, Doran (Calder, 76’), Polworth, Walsh, White (Oakley, 67’).

UNUSED SUBS (ICT): Hoban, MacKay, Trafford, Austin.

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