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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle U20 v Motherwell U20 – 22nd January 2017

After overcoming St. Johnstone in the last round of the SFA Youth Cup, Partick Thistle took on Motherwell at Firhill in a quarter-final clash. Thistle had plenty of momentum having beaten Kilmarnock 5-0 just five days prior.

Neil McLaughlin bagged four goals against Killie and started for the Jags today alongside Kevin Nisbet in the attack. Michael McMullin and Harry Granger were the centre-half pairing, while Ross Fleming started at left back.

After scoring four goals in the opening 20 minutes against Kilmarnock, the young Jags would continue the trend of quick starts in this game. Less than two minutes into the game Kevin Nisbet hit a cross into the box from the by-line which the Motherwell ‘keeper tried to deal with. He waved an arm at the ball and got something to it but he knocked it down onto the goal line. Thistle midfielder Callum Wilson was on the spot to tap home making it 1-0.

The aforementioned quick start didn’t end there, however. Matthew McInally made a run down the right wing and crossed deep into the box. Kevin Nisbet met the ball, heading towards goal and on the way through it took a deflection off a defending ‘Well man. The deviation wrong-footed the goalkeeper and the ball found the net doubling the deficit.

Unfortunately, the Jags goal scoring was brought to a grinding halt when the visitors pulled one back in the 17th minute. A corner was looped into the box and as Conor Cullen came to try and claim the ball, he went down under pressure. The referee didn’t blow his whistle for a free kick and Dylan Mackin rose to head into the unguarded net bringing the Steelmen back into the contest.

Five minutes later it was almost 2-2. Ross MacLean tried a shot from around 25 yards and the attempt was deflected. The ball seemed to be destined for the corner of Conor Cullen’s net but the goalkeeper turned the ball past the post with an outstretched right arm.

38 minutes in McInally and Nisbet almost linked up successfully again. The right-back curled a cross towards his teammate, who was situated 10 yards from goal, and Nisbet was able to get to it. Unfortunately for Thistle, the number 9’s headed effort went just the wrong side of the post.

Motherwell would be presented with a golden opportunity to draw level in the 40th minute when the away side won a penalty. Matthew McInally brought down Jake Hastie after the winger went past him. It would be David Turnbull to take the penalty. He stepped up and tried to find the ‘keeper’s bottom right-hand corner but Cullen got down well and parried the ball away from danger.

Despite the goalkeeping heroics of Conor Cullen, the opposition would draw level before half time. Jack McMillan of Motherwell took a shot from around 25 yards which Cullen was able to turn away but the ball fell to David Turnbull who made amends for his penalty miss by smashing home on the half volley.

After the goal, it seemed that the game would go into the break level but it wasn’t to be as the Well would complete the first half turnaround on the 45-minute mark. A long ball into the Jags’ box found Dylan Mackin who headed down with the ball ricocheting into the path of Jake Hastie. The number 11 proceeded to smash the ball high past Cullen making it 3-2 going in at half time.

Scott MacKenzie would be disappointed that his team had gone from two goals up to a goal down. Having started so well, the defensive frailties of the young Thistle side were showing later in the half. Conceding two late goals as the interval approached had put a dampener on a performance that had begun so promisingly. No changes were made at the break.

13 minutes into the second half the game was once again level. After some good passing play, Neil McLaughlin saw a low shot across goal saved. The ball fell to Andrew McCarthy who turned and laid the ball off to Kevin Nisbet. The striker then slotted calmly back across goal bringing the score to 3-3.

With 15 minutes to go Neil McLaughlin was withdrawn from the match, being replaced by James Stokes.

Just after that substitution, Dylan Mackin had the chance to give his side the lead when he got in behind the Jags’ defence. The ball was bouncing in front of him and he tried to lift it over Conor Cullen but the ‘keeper stood tall and caught the attempt.

The young Jags had their last chance of the game with seven minutes left of the 90. Yet another Matthew McInally cross was met by Kevin Nisbet. His header had plenty of power but his accuracy was off. The ball flew straight into the grateful arms of Pettigrew in the Motherwell goal.

Despite Thistle having their last chance, Motherwell were not done. A cross came in from the ‘Well right and Dominic Docherty could only half clear. Allan Campbell latched onto the loose ball and smashed a low ball across goal finding Dylan Mackin who had the simple job of tapping home to give his side the lead with 86 minutes on the clock.

Despite the late efforts of the boys in red and yellow, Motherwell were able to see the game out to advance to the semi-finals at Thistle’s expense. After some great spells of play at points in the game, it was momentary lapses of concentration in the defence that cost Scott MacKenzie’s side. They must now forget above the cup defeat and focus on their clash with St. Johnstone on the 24th of January at 18:00 in the Development league.

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