Friday 28th April, 2017 at 8:00am
Partick Thistle’s development side travelled to the Oriam Indoor 3G Complex on Tuesday with the intent to build on a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Aberdeen last Monday but were easily dispatched by an impressive Hibernian side. Now, with two games left of the Development League season, they looked to return to winning ways with seventh still possible.
The visitors the evening were St. Mirren. The Buddies sat 13th in the Development league, 11 points behind the Jags, however, in the sides last meeting, the Saints came away with a 2-1 win in Renfrew.
There were four changes made by Scott MacKenzie to the team that were beaten comprehensively by the Hibees in midweek. Jack Livesey replaced Struan Herd between the sticks while Antony Eadie, Aidan Fitzpatrick and Lee Duncanson replaced Andrew McCarthy, Dominic Docherty and Ian Stokes in the starting line-up.
The first chance of the match came in the fourth minute when the ball fell to Neil McLaughlin, 25 yards from goal. McLaughlin shot on the half-volley with the ball bouncing in front of the ‘keeper but the goalie did stop it and collected on the second attempt.
The away side came extremely close to taking the lead ten minutes in. A cross came in from the St. Mirren right and Ryan Watters got on the end of it. His header had Livesey beaten but came off the underside of the bar, not crossing the line as it bounced and the loose ball was collected by Livesey. The visiting side were claiming that the ball had crossed the line but the referee was unmoved and play went on.
The Buddies had another good chance in the twelfth minute. After a well-worked corner routine, the ball landed at the feet of Lewis McLear who was stood at the back post. He volleyed back across goal but Livesey made a strong one-handed save to deny St. Mirren the opener and turn it behind.
The Paisley team continued their string of opportunities when, in the 14th minute, they were presented with another chance. MacPherson broke into the Thistle box before trying to lift the ball over Livesey but the Thistle ‘keeper turned it behind with an arm over his head. St. Mirren were getting closer and closer to a goal with this sustained pressure on the Jags’ box.
Despite this good play, Thistle almost took the lead against the run of play in the 16th minute. Ross Fleming whipped a cross into the box from the left wing, finding Connor Higgins. The number 10 headed goalward from 15 yards out but the attempt could only clip the top of the bar as it went over.
After that Thistle chance, it was back to Saints dominance as they had arguably their best opportunity of the game yet. A poor clearance fell to the feet of Ryan Watters who passed to Conor O’Keefe but when the number 11 shot, Harry Granger made a vital block with a sliding challenge. There was a second shot in this phase of play but Livesey was able to make a comfortable save at his near post.
St. Mirren went close but were once again denied by Livesey in the 27th minute. Barclay got to the by-line and cut the ball back to Scott Glover. The midfielder shot for the near post but Livesey made the save low at the front stick and the ball was poked behind for a corner. From that consequent corner, Darren Whyte was able to get on the end of it but the defender headed over by a few yards. The visitors had one more chance before half time when Lewis McLear saw an acrobatic attempt ricochet off the bar after he was first to a loose ball in the Thistle box.
As the referee blew the half time whistle, the Buddies would be disappointed not to have the lead going into the interval having dominated most of the game. There was clearly improvement needed from the Jags side if they wanted to compete with the impressive Saints side of the opening 45.
St. Mirren started the second half as they’d played the first; with attacking threat. McLear was played through after a Thistle defender was dispossessed. The wideman took a shot but Livesey made a good save from point blank range. Shortly after this, Thistle made their first substitutions as Ross Fleming and Callum Wilson were replaced by Edin Lynch and Paul Smith.
After so many missed opportunities, St. Mirren would be made to regret their lack of a clinical finish as Thistle took the lead in the 59th minute. Connor Higgins was played in behind the Buddies’ backline and the forward skipped past the opposition ‘keeper before slotting home into the empty net. Following the goal, Scott MacKenzie made his final change with Dakota King replacing Aidan Fitzpatrick.
With 16 minutes to play, Thistle had a chance to double their lead. Neil McLaughlin was fed the ball just outside the St. Mirren box before shifting past his man and shooting. The opposing ‘keeper gets down well and parries to a defender who clears any potential further danger.
In the 81st minute, the away side had a good opportunity to level things through Conor O’Keefe. O’Keefe was found with a long ball in behind his marker at the back post and the wideman attempted a volley but he somewhat scuffed the shot and it bobbled a couple of feet wide of the near post.
That would be that for tonight’s game as Thistle held out for the three points as well as a clean sheet. St. Mirren would be rueing missed opportunities having completely dominated proceedings for the first period before going behind just before the hour mark, after the break. A single goal from Connor Higgins was the deciding factor as the young Jags picked up the win.
Scott MacKenzie’s side are back in action on Monday night at the Excelsior as they take on Dundee United in their final Development league fixture of the season with kick-off at 18:00 for that game.