Tuesday 16th February, 2016 at 10:33am
Thistle’s development squad returned to Airdrie to take on an Aberdeen side that were sitting fourth in the table. Thistle came into the fixture sitting second bottom with no wins in any of the last five fixtures.
MacKenzie made two changes to the side which fell to defeat against Ross County last week with Kevin Nisbet dropping to the bench to allow Antonio German to make his second appearance in Thistle colours. Michael McMullin was unavailable due to preparing for an East Stirling fixture, meaning Scot Whiteside partnered Edin Lynch in the centre of defence.
The first half was an extremely tame affair with both sides struggling to adapt to the relentless wind and rain at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium. Antonio German tried to make the first impact in the game when he forced a slightly acrobatic save from Lennox after being set up inside the box by Andy McCarthy.
Aberdeen, fielding a young team in the wake of their Premiership commitments, were posing a threat on the counterattack and Whiteside had to be lively to get a toe on his low cross with several Aberdeen players ready to pounce inside the penalty area.
With 25 minutes on the clock Thistle came closest to opening the scoring when Mark Lamont played a short corner. After receiving the ball back the winger curled a ball into the box, which Edin Lynch went for. He got the slightest touch on the ball to direct the ball off the post.
A first half that didn’t have much to report concluded with loud shouts for a penalty which were, correctly, waved away when Dominic Docherty had a shot deflected wide for a corner.
Kevin Nisbet replaced Antonio German at half time and his introduction livened Thistle up as an attacking force, with his willing runs into the channel providing a vital outball for the Young Jags.
Marc Waters was forced into his first save of the game when he denied Orci from just outside the box.
Neil McLaughlin was the next to have an effort flash past the post as the game began to unfold. Defensively, Thistle almost played themselves into trouble when a failure to clear the ball gave Aberdeen opportunities inside the Thistle penalty area. Thistle were able to hack clear and, several passes later, won a corner kick.
The corner was partially cleared to the edge of the box when Andy McCarthy rifled a shot back into the box. The ball hit the hand of a twisting Aberdeen defender and the referee pointed to the spot. It was a little harsh on the Aberdeen player to give handball for such a foul, but the referee made his mind up. After a small debate about who should take it, Dominic Docherty took the responsibility and fired an excellent kick high into the net.
Thistle looked to add a second goal to their tally and Kevin Nisbet almost had it when he danced through the Aberdeen defence before firing a powerful effort which produced a tremendous save from Lennox. The rebound fell kindly for an Aberdeen defender to clear.
With Thistle looking likely to go on and take all three points, Aberdeen snatched a late leveller in what is increasingly becoming a recurring theme for the development squad.
Thistle had a corner which Lennox claimed without any Thistle pressure. His quick long kick forced Thistle onto the backfoot. Matthew McInally went to head the ball clear, but was unable to get enough elevation in his jump to make a proper connection on the ball. Bruce Anderson ran onto the ball before cutting it back to Orci, who evaded the marking Leyden to drill the ball home from six yards out.
It could have been worse for the youngsters as Thomas fired a shot just wide of Waters goal deep into injury time and Thistle had to settle for just a point.
On the face of it, a point against the side who are occupying fourth position in the table isn’t a bad point to collect. Scott MacKenzie will be pleased with long spells of his sides performance in difficult conditions, with one lapse in concentration in the late spells of the game proving, once more, to be an extremely costly one.
Next up for the Young Jags is an away fixture against Rangers. Date and Time to be Confirmed.