Monday 21st December, 2015 at 10:35am
Thistle hosted Celtic in the final Development League fixture of 2015, with the visitors looking to end the calendar year unbeaten at the summit of the Development League. Thistle, meanwhile, were looking to build on the battling performance which saw the side battle to a well earned point in Dingwall last week.
Scott MacKenzie made four changes to that side with first team players, Gary Miller, Frederic Frans and Ryan Edwards coming into the squad. Neil McLaughlin, Scot Whiteside and Mark Lamont dropped to the bench. A hamstring injury sustained by Dominic Doherty in training on Sunday ruled him out with Andy McCarthy earning a first start of the season after his own injury issues.
Thistle have been guilty of playing poorly when they involve first team players in the Development League but today was a marked improvement as they battled against a Celtic side who were high in confidence. Playing into a driving rain with horrible windy conditions, Kevin Nisbet blazed the first Jags opportunity over the bar with only a few minutes played. Excellent work from McCarthy saw him rob the ball inside the penalty area, only for Edwards to play back to the normally prolific striker.
Thistle were having to be wary of the threat of veteran Anthony Stoke who glanced wide with a free header before firing a powerful effort off target, but Thistle did respond with a swift counter attack. Edwards and Nisbet led the charge but when McInally was played in, the ball trundled out for a goal kick.
Both sides were conjuring up neat passages of play in the first half, but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested in the opening 45 minutes of play. The second half was barely a minute old when McDaid had the first serious sight of goal, but his curled effort flew wide of the right hand post.
Thistle were becoming to go on the ascendancy with McDaid in particular being at the heart of the many moves created by the side. He found himself in a pocket of space just outside the penalty area, but struggled to get his volley on target, having done well to control the ball.
A game of few chances descended into a midfield battle, before Celtic grabbed the only goal of the game with under 10 minutes remaining. Thistle looked to have cleared the danger and were looking to break upon the visitors when Celtic enjoyed a couple of fortunate bounces inside the Thistle half.
A quick series of passes saw Nesbitt released inside the box and he fired a thunderous effort past Marc Waters at his near post.
Thistle hit back with a series of corners but, apart from a fizzing James Penrice effort, never really presented any problems for Hazard in the Celtic goal.