Wednesday 14th September, 2016 at 1:18am
Following an impressive 3-1 win against Kilmarnock last week, Partick Thistle sat third in the Development League standings. An undefeated Jags side came up against St. Johnstone, who had failed to register a victory in their first three games.
Scott MacKenzie made four changes from last week’s victory over Kilmarnock. Thistle new boy Adam Barton started in the midfield as he looked to get some minutes under his belt, Ian Stokes dropped out of the squad due to injury with Christie Elliott replacing him at full-back. James Penrice came in for Ross Fleming and Andrew McCarthy was restored to the starting line-up as Dominic Docherty fell to the bench.
Declan McDaid got the match underway at Firhill with the Jags attacking the North stand for the first 45 minutes. It only took a minute and a half for the first chance to present itself. Paul Simpson managed to get into a crossing position and he tried to pick out Joseph Gormley in the middle but the ball ricocheted off the attacker and went out for a goal kick.
Just three minutes after that first chance, the visiting men from Perth would take the lead. A deep cross from St. Johnstone’s right flank left Jags ‘keeper Connor Cullen back pedalling. As the goalie attempted to catch the ball he dropped it and before he could recollect it Saints forward George Hunter pounced on the loose ball to make it 1-0.
St. Johnstone were controlling the early stages of the game and 16 minutes in they were able to double the deficit. Paul Simpson, who had been causing Thistle lots of problems, crossed to the back post and Joseph Gormley found himself in space as he was able to head low past Cullen.
Just 60 seconds later it could have been 3-0. Paul Simpson was played clean through and the wide midfielder was able to run into the box. He had a one-on-one opportunity but he let the Jags off the hook when he completely missed the target.
Things were looking bleak for Thistle with no more than 20 minutes gone as Joseph Gormley went close once again but he couldn’t redirect a low cross onto the target.
As the game approached the half hour mark the men in red and yellow were showing signs of improvement. The home side were passing the ball more fluidly and the Jags were turning defence into attack with ease suddenly. Scott MacKenzie’s men almost got themselves back in the game when a Declan McDaid free kick from the right flank was met by Neil McLaughlin in the penalty area but he wasn’t able to make sufficient contact with the cross and he glanced it wide of the back post.
That’s how it stood at the interval with Thistle beginning to show what they can do when they’re at their best. Most of the chances had fallen to St. Johnstone and the two they had taken were the difference at the break. Adam Barton was replaced by Dominic Docherty at half-time.
After the second period kicked-off, it took just two minutes for the first opening to present itself. Andrew McCarthy found space in the box and cut onto his right foot around 15 yards from goal. He attempted to curl a right-footed shot into the top corner but his shot was wide of the far post.
56 minutes into the game Mark Lamont had a chance to grab the Jags’ first goal. He broke through on goal but as he looked to slot the ball home, he took his eye off the ball and mishit his shot.
The Saints were denied a third goal just three minutes later when a curled effort on Connor Cullen’s goal was tipped round the post excellently by the Thistle shot stopper.
The save kept the young Jags in the game and it proved to be an important save as ten minutes after that stop, Declan McDaid scored for Thistle. He was played in behind the opposition defenders and he stayed calm to take the ball around the keeper and slot the ball into an empty net.
James Stokes replaced Mark Lamont as the game entered the last 15 minutes with the home team chasing an equaliser. Andrew McCarthy was also withdrawn as Callum Wilson was introduced to the game.
Unfortunately, Thistle’s hopes of salvaging something from the game were massively set back as Joseph Gormley was played through in behind and he smashed the ball past Connor Cullen to restore St. Johnstone’s two goal lead.
Thistle were left chasing the game with eight minutes to go and manged to get themselves back in contention when James Penrice went past three defenders before crossing towards James Stokes who headed beyond Saints ‘keeper Ben McKenzie off the post.
The Jags came extremely close to grabbing a late point through Christie Elliott. The man who had been playing full-back this evening ran towards the box and took a shot but it dragged just wide of the far post.
The game would end 2-3 with the Jags left feeling as if they deserved something more out of the game. St. Johnstone were barely able to get out of their own half as Thistle showed complete dominance over the game in the second-half.
Scott MacKenzie and the development squad will now turn their attention to their clash with Dunfermline at East End Park next Monday night. Kick off is 6pm.