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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Motherwell v Partick Thistle – 15th February 2014

A remarkable game at Fir Park ended in defeat for Thistle who with just six minutes of the match remaining led by three goals to two.
After a fortnight’s absence from competitive action Thistle manager Alan Archibald made just the one change to the side that had drawn with Dundee United. Chris Erskine had been ineligible for that match and he returned at the expense of Christie Elliott who dropped to the bench.
After heavy rain in the 24 hours prior to the match there had been some doubt in the morning that this game would take place. The Motherwell groundstaff, however, worked tirelessly to get the game to go ahead with the pitch, although very stodgy, perfectly playable. It wasn’t though going to be easy going for either set of players.
That was reflected in an opening half of football that never really took off. Motherwell had the better of the opening exchanges; McFadden sending a Francis-Angol cross over the bar in the 5th minute and Lee Mair halting John Sutton’s progress towards goal with a perfectly timed challenge 9 minutes later.
Thistle’s first chance didn’t arrive until the 29th minute when Conrad Balatoni was able to get his head to a Kallum Higginbotham corner but his header dropped the wrong side of the post.
Thistle though took the lead seven minutes later. Kallum Higginbotham was able to find himself in a promising position at the edge of the Motherwell box where he, after ignoring Jordan McMillan to his right, threaded through a pass to Chris Erskine. Erskine took a touch to control the ball before steering it past Nielsen and into the back of the net.
Thistle took a noticeable lift from that goal and they threatened a second just four minutes later. Higginbotham was able to gather Gary Fraser’s superb crossfield pass before squaring the ball to Prince Buaben whose effort at goal was blocked by a Motherwell defender.
The scores, however, were level again with half-time just three minutes away. It was a cruel equaliser for Thistle to lose with Keith Lasley’s deflected shot looping over a helpless Paul Gallacher and into the net.
Seven minutes into the second half and the home side took the lead for the first time. Thistle gave Lionel Ainsworth far too much time and space inside their own penalty area and the Motherwell player was able to shoot confidently past Gallacher.
Thistle’s response to falling a goal behind was very positive. A Kallum Higginbotham free kick from wide on the right fell to Lyle Taylor who saw his shot deflected wide of goal and there were loud appeals for handball and a Thistle penalty when a Taylor-Sinclair shot struck a Motherwell defender.
Prince Buaben was close to netting his first Thistle goal in the 61st minute but saw his effort smothered by Nielsen at close range.
Only a further four minutes would pass before Thistle were back on level terms. After scoring Thistle’s first goal Chris Erskine also had a big hand in the second Thistle goal as welll. His excellent pass picked out Taylor-Sinclair and when he was fouled by Ainsworth, Thistle were awarded a clear and obvious penalty kick.
Kallum Higginbotham was the player entrusted with taking the kick and he made no mistake from the spot.
Belief surged through Thistle at this point as they saw this as a game that was potentially there for the winning. Chris Erskine saw a low drive saved by Nielsen and Higginbotham burst into the Motherwell box with Taylor unable to divert his cutback into the back of the Motherwell net.
With 19 minutes of what was now a pulsating encounter Thistle were in front thanks to some magic from Higginbotham. His run took him past a couple of defenders and deep into the Motherwell box where he found the back of the net with a low drive from a tight angle.
The Thistle defence were immediately under intense pressure as Motherwell fought back. A McFadden effort, when he looked set to score, was deflected into the side netting and from the corner that followed Gallacher produced an excellent save to deny McManus.
There were 6 minutes of the game when Motherwell drew level. A cross from the Motherwell right found the head of John Sutton and the Motherwell leading goalscorer found the back of the net with a powerful header.
There was worse to follow for Thistle when 3 minutes later what had been just a short time ago a 3-2 lead was turned into a 4-3 deficit. Stephen McManus was able to climb above Jordan McMillan to plant a header firmly past Paul Gallacher in the Thistle goal.
Could Thistle find an equaliser in the time that remained? Well they did have one opportunity before the end. James Craigen was fouled close to the left touchline in line with the 18 yard box. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair was able to get a touch to Gary Fraser’s free kick that followed but that touch took the ball over the bar.

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