Tuesday 8th March, 2016 at 2:38pm
Aberdeen were the latest visitors to Firhill as Thistle looked to secure more precious Premiership points in the quest to catch the sides above them in the league. There was a chill in the air at Firhill as kick-off approached with the Dons keen to pick up the points in order to threaten Celtic at the summit of the Ladbrokes Premiership table.
Manager Alan Archibald made two changes to the side which lost narrowly against Hearts on Saturday afternoon; one enforced through injury, the other a tactical switch. Stuart Bannigan, so influential for the side this season, had limped off with an injury on Saturday and instead of being available for selection on the pitch, he took his place in the Thistle commentary box to bring audio analysis to the proceedings. His place was taken by Gary Fraser, who was looking to re-capture the form he had shown earlier in the season before injury and bereavement so cruelly denied him much needed game time. In defence, Christie Elliott replaced Gary Miller as Thistle looked to match up against the potent Aberdeen attack throughout the game. For Aberdeen, the influential Jonny Hayes returned from injury and was fit to start the game.
Aberdeen looked in determined mood early on, but it was Thistle who looked the more dangerous side with David Amoo probing in the early stages. From the first corner of the game, Gary Fraser found Sean Welsh who fired high over the bar from the edge of the box.
With the rain beginning to tumble Hayes, returning from injury for the visitors, was looking to use the surface to his advantage but his 25 yard effort lashed high off Tomas Cerny’s bar.
The opening 20 minutes didn’t have anything in way of real goalscoring threat but Kenny McLean had the game’s first real opportunity. The ball skidded off the surface, allowing the late run from the midfielder to get in behind the defence. Under pressure from Liam Lindsay, he could only fire tamely into the arms of Tomas Cerny.
Gary Fraser and Mathias Pogba were linking up well in the advanced areas of the pitch and after the returning midfielder curled a really good ball through to the striker, the ball just wouldn’t fall kindly for Pogba to bury past Brown.
Gary Fraser had Thistle’s best opportunity to open the scoring in the first half when Sean Welsh sprayed the ball into his path, after benefiting from an Aberdeen mistake. Under significant pressure from the advancing goalkeeper, Fraser could only lift his effort inches over the bar.
Set pieces were proving troublesome for Thistle and after McLean had cleared the Thistle bar with one from 20 yards after 30 minutes, Simon Church got on the end of Hayes free kick to fire a shot against the top of the bar and over for a goal kick.
In an open entertaining game, it was perhaps surprising that the score line remained at 0-0 at the half time interval.
Thistle could sense that they’d get at the Aberdeen defence, but they had to be wary of the threat posed by the Dons. From another dangerous free kick, Sean Welsh was able to clear the ball from inside the six yard box denying Storie the game’s opening goal. The opener did arrive with the hour mark approaching.
Steven Lawless has scored many spectacular goals for Thistle, but this is right up there. He showed good trickery to get space for himself 30 yards from goal. He unleashed an absolute screamer which flew past Brown and into the top corner of the net to give Thistle a lead which they had worked incredibly hard to get.
Amoo was continuing to prove a handful to another left back and from his cross, Pogba nodded goalwards appearing certain to double the lead. The intervention of Scott Brown, who tipped the ball over the bar for a corner, denied Thistle the second goal which may well have proved decisive.
With the game entering the closing stages, Aberdeen didn’t look like breaching Tomas Cerny’s goal, until they did.
A cross from Hayes, was deflected by Dan Seaborne to the back post where it fell for Andrew Considine who was in the right place at the right time to nod the visitor’s level.
No sooner than Aberdeen scored one, than they took the lead. Barry Robson fired a corner into the Thistle penalty area, Simon Church got a run on his marker to plant a header beyond Cerny at the far post.
Thistle had one great chance to grab a leveller, but Doolan’s effort on the turn dragged wide of Simon Brown’s left hand post.
Tomas Cerny adventured into the Aberdeen penalty area in stoppage time as he looked to salvage an unlikely leveller but there was to be no heroics as Aberdeen won a valuable three points to continue their title battle at the top of the league.