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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Kilmarnock v Partick Thistle – 21st December 2013

Thistle will head into the Boxing Day match against Inverness seeking their first win since their last trip to the capital of the Highlands.
Goals from Chris Johnston and Kris Boyd sandwiched an excellent equalizer from Kris Doolan at the start of the second half as Kilmarnock took all three points and moved above Thistle in the league.
Alan Archibald made a couple of changes from the St Johnstone game – Conrad Balatoni and Stevie Lawless coming in for Aaron Muirhead and Isaac Osbourne.
There was a low-key start to the game and there was almost ten minutes on the clock before the first effort on goal, a long range effort from Stevie Lawless that was comfortably saved by Craig Samson.
Kilmarnock, seeking out Kris Boyd at every opportunity, created a chance for McKenzie, but he shot wide of Scott Fox’s right hand post.
Shortly afterwards, Boyd’s dummy fooled Gabriel Piccolo and a one-two set up a great scoring chance that Fox blocked with his legs.
Thistle enjoyed more of the possession later in the second half, winning the ball back in dangerous areas with Doolan, Lawless and Elliott working to quickly close down the home defence.
Stevie Lawless had Thistle’s best chance of the half – driving at the Kilmarnock defence, he beat the last defender, but after getting into the box, sliced his shot agonisingly wide of goal.
Thistle paid heavily for that miss just minutes later.  Gabriel Piccolo’s slack ball from defence left Kilmarnock with plenty of space, but Balatoni was able to block for a corner.  Fox punched the corner clear, but when the ball was played back into the box, the ball dropped for Chris Johnston to drive the ball home from 12 yards.
There was time for one more Thistle chance, Kris Doolan beating Craig Samson to a back-pass on the goal-line at the corner of the box.  Just keeping the ball in play he was able to turn and set up Kallum Higginbotham who saw his effort palmed away by Samson, with the ball falling just out of reach of two Thistle players.
Whilst the rain started falling heavier during half-time, Thistle started the second half brightly, upping the tempo and playing higher up the park as they shot towards the 800-strong Thistle support.
It took only three minutes to find an equalizer that was as simple as it was excellent.  Aaron Taylor-Sinclair’s long throw into the box was dummied by Christie Elliott and with one turn Kris Doolan got away from his marker.  With all that space, Doolan had plenty of time to take a touch and then send Samson the wrong way with his finish.
Thistle grew in confidence from the goal, and enjoyed a good spell of pressure, although chances were at a premium the hour mark. Christie Elliott’s driven shot was palmed away by Samson and then headed behind for a corner.
After fine play from Higginbotham down the left, the ball eventually fell to Stevie Lawless eight yards out, but he could only stab the ball over the bar.
Kilmarnock started coming back into the game, shortly after replacing Barry Nicholson with Michael Gardyne.
Fox was in the right place to save an Ashcroft header from a corner, then he blocked Gardyne’s firmly-hit drive.
From another counter-attack, Balatoni appeared to win the ball before any contact with McKenzie, but a free-kick was given and the Thistle defender booked.  The resulting set-play was cleared initially but Irvine’s strike was touched into the corner of the Thistle goal by Kris Boyd to give the home side the lead once more.
There were a couple of opportunities for a second equalizer.  A superb move down the left opened up the Kilmarnock defence and it took a block from Samson to deny Higginbotham from eight yards out.
Samson followed that with a fine double-save from a Ross Forbes free kick that was heading for the top corner, then from Baird’s follow-up effort.
Despite camping in the Kilmarnock half for the last few minutes, Thistle were unable to find that all important goal that they probably deserved – man-of-the-match Samson saving Baird’s effort in the final action of the game.

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