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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Motherwell v Partick Thistle – 3rd February 2018

Having won their first away league game of the season last Saturday at McDiarmid Park, Partick Thistle looked to make it two wins on the road in a row as they travelled to Fir Park to take on Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell. A result had the potential to take Thistle out of the bottom two spots for the first time since November but the Maryhill men would have to overcome a ‘Well side who had won both of their opening home games of 2018.

Alan Archibald made four changes to the starting XI that began the match against St. Johnstone last weekend. Unfortunately for the away side, three of those four alterations were forced. Conor Sammon missed the game due to a family bereavement meaning Kris Doolan came in to make his first start of the year. Steven Lawless and Callum Booth both picked up knocks during the week which meant Mustapha Dumbuya and Ryan Edwards started. Chris Erskine was replaced in the starting line-up by Adam Barton to facilitate a change in formation which saw Thistle change to a five-at-the-back set-up.

The match started quickly with Martin Woods, Nadir Ciftci and Mustapha Dumbuya all having early sights off goal, however, the first big chance of the match fell on 13 minutes. Miles Storey had the ball on the Jags’ right of the ‘Well box and he lifted a ball towards the back post. His delivery found Ryan Edwards’ late run but the Australian midfielder couldn’t get over the ball and he headed over from a few yards out.

The hosts came very close to an opener of their own when Thistle new boy, Baily Cargill made his first big misjudgement since signing from Bournemouth on loan. A low cross came into the away side’s area and looked to find a Motherwell foot but Cargill swung a leg at it. The centre-half mis-kicked the ball and it spun into the path of Curtis Main. The Motherwell striker then tried to tap home from close range but the shot was blocked and Thistle skipper, Abdul Osman was fouled in the scramble ending the pressure.

Motherwell then went close again in the 38th minute, forcing a save from Tomas Cerny. A high ball from the Motherwell left got the better of Niall Keown and it came to Main in the Jags’ box. The ex-Portsmouth forward attempted a lob with Cerny off his line but he didn’t get enough on it and Cerny was able to turn it well wide of the goal.

The match went into the break at 0-0 with both side having had chances to break the deadlock. Thistle had started the game in control but their hosts really grew into the game as the half progressed. Both sides would be looking to find that cutting edge in the second 45.

It was the hosts who began the second half on top and they could easily have taken the lead in the 51st minute. A great ball into the Thistle area caused the visitors all sorts of problems and the ball ricocheted goalward with Charles Dunne seeming to have made the meaningful contact. The ball seemed to be bouncing in but Tomas Cerny pulled out a terrific save to deny the Steelmen a deadlock breaking goal.

Motherwell would be made to rue their missed opportunities when the away side took the lead two minutes after Cerny’s excellent save. Martin Woods curled a tantalising ball into the Motherwell box finding Kris Doolan who had created five yards of space for himself in the area. The striker had plenty of time to think about his header but made no mistake as he nodded it home with clinical efficiency. The goal was Doolan’s 99th in the league for Thistle and his first of 2018.

The home side then pushed and pushed for a leveller as they chased from behind. Motherwell launched ball after ball into the Jags box and even found the net as Curtis Main saw a goal chalked off for offside but their persistence paid off when they found their equaliser as they found the net for the second time on 79 minutes. When a half-clearance fell to the edge of the Thistle box, Charles Dunne beat Ryan Edwards to the loose ball and knocked it into the feet of Nadir Ciftci. The ex-Dundee United man then shuffled away from his marker, Niall Keown, and fired low past Tomas Cerny at the near post, grabbing his first goal for the Steelmen.

With six minutes left to be played, Alan Archibald made his first and only change of the game as Blair Spittal replaced Kris Doolan and the number seven came close to winning the game late on. With a minute to go of regulation time, Blair found himself next to the by-line in the Motherwell box. With no support he opted to just smash a shot on goal and he nearly found the net. ‘Well goalkeeper, Trevor Carson got a strong hand to the powerful drive but it spun up off the gloves of the ‘keeper and seemed to be trickling into the net, though, the ball actually dribbled across the face of goal without crossing the line.

That’s how things would end too as the sides shared the spoils after a long, hard-fought game. Neither team would be satisfied with the point as each team had created enough to win the match without doing so. The point did, however, take Thistle into tenth place above Hamilton Accies who lost 3-0 to Aberdeen today.

Thistle now turn their attentions to a Tuesday night clash with city rivals, Rangers. The Jags have a few days to prepare for the midweek clash which takes place at 19:45 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, McGinn, Keown, Barton, Cargill, Dumbuya, Osman, Woods, Edwards, Doolan (Spittal, 86′), Storey.

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Devine, Penrice, Erskine, McCarthy.

MOTHERWELL TEAM: Carson, Cadden (Petravicius, 87′), Kipre, Aldred, Dunne, Hendrie (Tait, HT), Campbell, McHugh, Tanner (Frear, 55′), Main, Ciftci.

UNUSED SUBS (MTH): Griffiths, Grimshaw, Bigirimana, Rose.

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