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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle U20 v Falkirk U20 – 15th November 2016

Despite an excellent start to the campaign, Partick Thistle’s Development team had slumped to two league defeats in a row in November. They had a chance to get back to winning ways against Falkirk at Firhill. The visitors came into the game one place above the Jags, in fourth place and on an eight game unbeaten run.

Four changes were made to the side that lost against St. Mirren last Tuesday. Conor Cullen, Ian Stokes, David Wilson and Kevin Nisbet were all dropped from the side and were replaced by Struan Herd, Andrew McCarthy, Declan McDaid and a trialist.

The match started slowly and took a while to get going with the first chance of the game falling after ten minutes. Declan McDaid played the ball out wide to Mark Lamont who played a ball into the box which Neil McLaughlin tried to turn towards goal but it was slightly behind him and he missed the target.

Unfortunately for Thistle, just four minutes after that opportunity Falkirk would take the lead. Nathan Austin managed to lift the ball over the Jags’ trialist to present himself a free run on goal. As the attacker entered the box he felt a nudge on his back from Michael McMullin and he went down. The referee very quickly pointed to the spot, giving the Bairns a huge chance to break the deadlock. The man who won the spot kick would step up to take it and he made no mistake from 12 yards, sending Herd the wrong way.

The home side almost mustered up an instant response when Mark Lamont’s sensational chipped attempt from 30 yards was only stopped by the fingertips of a backpedalling Deniz Mehmet in the Falkirk goal.

The Bairns had an opportunity to double their lead just before half-time. Scott Shepherd was bearing down on goal but an outrushing Struan Herd managed to block his attempts. The ball then dropped to Falkirk goal scorer Austin who shot towards goal but Struan Herd was there to make the save.

Michael McMullin was forced off the pitch due to injury prior to the half-time interval. He was replaced by Ian Stokes while there was one substitution made during the break as Ross Fleming was introduced into the match with the trialist being withdrawn.

When the teams re-emerged for the second period the Jags took a very different shape with Scott MacKenzie electing to go for a 3-5-2 formation.

The second-half, much like the first, started at a timid pace. It took 13 minutes for the first opportunity to materialise as Nathan Austin cut inside from the right flank and curled an effort towards the top corner which just flew over the crossbar.

The visitors almost scored a second in the 62nd minute thanks to Conor Langton. The number 7 hit a shot from around 25 yards out that had Struan Herd beaten all ends up. Fortunately for the goalkeeper, the attempt smacked off the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick.

The Jags made their final change when Declan McDaid came off and James Stokes was sent on.

After a long game of nothing really coming off for the young Thistle team they finally made a breakthrough as the home team drew level. Andrew McCarthy fed the ball into Neil McLaughlin who set himself before firing a rasping shot past Mehmet at the near post.

The goal sent a surge of adrenaline through Scott MacKenzie’s team as they searched for the all-important winner. Callum Wilson picked up the ball ten yards inside the opposition half before turning his man and playing the ball to James Stokes on the right wing. The substitute hit a ball into the centre where Neil McLaughlin managed to get a deft touch on the ball to take some of the pace off the delivery. The man who started the attack, Callum Wilson, was running into the box and the ball fell perfectly for the midfielder as he raced towards goal placing it home, across goal, into the far corner. The boys in red and yellow celebrated together behind the Falkirk goal as they had snatched victory form the jaws of defeat in the dying moments of the evening encounter.

In a game where good chances were hard to come by for both teams, Thistle will be delighted to return to winning ways in the league while ending Falkirk’s unbeaten run. The young Jags rise above the Bairns in the Development League table, moving into fourth having played a game more than today’s opponents.

The Development squad’s next fixture comes next Tuesday night against Rangers at the Forthbank Stadium in Stirling with kick-off at 6pm.

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