Saturday 27th February, 2016 at 2:40pm
Thistle travelled to Fir Park looking to gain a first victory at the Lanarkshire ground in over 20 years against a Motherwell side that had not played since losing at St Johnstone last Saturday. Thistle had beaten the same opposition at Firhill on Tuesday night with an encouraging, strong performance to climb to 8th in the Ladbrokes Premiership table.
It was perhaps the good performance from Tuesday night that prompted manager Alan Archibald to make just the one change to the starting line-up. Kris Doolan, who netted such a quick opener after coming on as a substitute was preferred to Mathias Pogba with the rest of the side instructed to repeat their performances from Tuesday night.
The game got off to a slow start with not much in the way of goalmouth action in the opening stages. Doolan did take advantage of a slack Motherwell pass in the second minute but after the ball was played wide to Booth, the full back was unable to win even a corner with his cross as it went behind for goal kick.
Motherwell were showing plenty of passing movement, but Thistle weren’t challenged in a defensive area in the forgettable opening 20 minutes of a match.
Osman and Booth both fired crosses into a penalty area where plenty of Thistle players made the run into the box, sadly from a Thistle perspective the deflection proved helpful for Ripley in the Motherwell goal.
Aidan Nesbitt, so impressive on Tuesday night, showed a couple of flashes of his potential but after a run into the Motherwell half, fired wide of the post from just outside the box.
Motherwell did have the ball in the net after 27 minutes when Louis Moult knocked home after being set up by Scott McDonald. The prolific striker was, correctly, ruled offside.
Thistle were growing into the game, but in truth the match was a poor one and it was from a Thistle mistake that Motherwell took the lead. Lasley made a run into a wide area of the penalty and was tracked by Aidan Nesbitt, sadly for the loanee he clipped the veteran Motherwell player and referee, Finnie, pointed to the spot. Louis Moult made no mistake from the spot and sent Tomas Cerny the wrong way to fire Motherwell into the lead.
It was very close to a second goal moments later when Scott McDonald burst into the Thistle box, before picking out Cadden on the right hand side. The young winger skipped past Booth before firing a low cross which was evaded by everyone in the six yard box. Motherwell were well on top as the first half came to a close and Thistle were relieved at just the one goal deficit.
Thistle made a half time change with Nesbitt being replaced by Mathias Pogba as Alan Archibald looked to beef up his attack which had failed to test Ripley during the first half. The striker made an immediate impact playing the ball wide to Miller but his cross, like so many, was comfortable for Ripley.
The second goal did arrive but it was a second for Motherwell. Scott McDonald broke away from a throw in and was able to slip the ball to Moult, who had far too much space inside the penalty area and he made no mistake to fire the ball powerfully past Cerny.
Thistle were working hard trying to get back in the game and Doolan had a powerful driven cross punched away by Ripley as Pogba looked set to pounce on the loose ball. There was a lack of creativity as Thistle struggled to get back into the game. Motherwell continued to pose a threat on the break and McDonald was close to adding a third when McDonald got on the end of Steven Hammell’s free kick but was unable to find the target with his effort.
As Thistle looked to get back into the game, Callum Booth fizzed a low drive into the box which was cleared by a Motherwell defender off the hands of Ripley. Motherwell countered on the break, Marvin Johnson cut in from the right hand side and fired past the helpless Cerny to put Motherwell into a 3-0 lead.
Thistle were falling apart at the back and it could have been more with a hungry Motherwell keen to punish the side on every occasion. McDonald saw the ball fall to him inside the box, but his shot was pushed away by Cerny for a corner kick. From the resulting corner, McManus forced another tremendous save from Thistle’s goalkeeper as the ball sat up for him to volley from 10 yards out.
Thistle grabbed a goal back with 15 minutes remaining when Callum Booth fired a deflected effort past Ripley from 20 yards, finally breaking his goalscoring duck for Thistle with his first strike for the club.
There was hope for a comeback and Amoo went on a mazy run deep into the Motherwell half just moments later. With good support alongside him, he elected to shoot with his shot being blocked for a Thistle corner kick.
Thistle continued pushing forward, with Amoo looking very lively in his substitute appearance but Motherwell were able to contain and soak up the pressure as the minutes closed out.
Despite three additional minutes of time, Thistle didn’t look like troubling the Motherwell rear guard in the closing stages and the 979 Thistle fans who made the trek to Fir Park went home very disappointed.