Saturday 27th July, 2013 at 1:58pm
Thistle completed their pre-season programme with a visit of Cypriot First Division side AEL Limassol and although neither side managed a goal it proved to be a reasonably entertaining fixture for the 1,261 crowd.
Thistle included new loan signing Gary Fraser in their starting line-up and there was also a slot for Mexican trialist Gabriel Rojo de la Vega Piccolo in the centre of the Thistle defence. Gabriel, as he is better known as, would sign a two year contract shortly after full-time.
It was the Cypriot side that would have the first chance of this game. Soares crossed from the left for Ohene who side footed a shot wide of target from 15 yards out.
Thistle though were playing some nice football on the beautiful Firhill playing surface and their first opportunity arrived in the 12th minute when Ross Forbes curled a free kick from the left to the back post. There was, however, just a little too much elevation of Forbes’ free kick and although Kris Doolan was able to meet the ball at the back post he was unable to keep his header down.
Three minutes later Thistle thought they had a penalty. Stephen O’Donnell sent over a cross from the right and in attempting to connect with it Kris Doolan was barged in the box. The referee immediately pointed to the spot only to overturn his decision when he saw the flag raised for offside.
AEL too were thwarted by an assistant referee’s raised flag when they had the ball in the back of the Thistle net in 18th minute.
Midway through the first half Thistle had another opportunity from a Ross Forbes free kick. He again aimed the ball for the back post but this time no Thistle player was able to gather the ball. Gabriel, however, was able to collect the loose ball and he sent over a cross that Forbes blazed high over the bar.
The Cypriot side were clearly a talented team and Bebe tested Scott Fox was a rasping shot from fully 35 yards that the Thistle keeper was happy to fist away from goal. AEL too came close when a wicked corner from the right struck the frame of the Thistle goal.
Although a friendly there were a few hefty challenges flying around from Thistle’s Cypriot guests with Stuart Bannigan, just returned from injury, feeling the full force of one. He quickly recovered, however, and just seconds later came the closest to scoring a first half Thistle goal with a shot from the edge of the box that just cleared the crossbar.
There was a steady stream of substitutions during the course of the second half which an obvious impact on the rhythm of the game. There was still some action in front of goal with Thistle having the clearer of the second half chances.
Their first opportunity came in just the 3rd minute of the second half. Kris Doolan was able to touch the ball back into the path of Steven Lawless who sent his shot over the bar.
In the 67th minute a lovely back heel from one of the many second half substitutes, James Craigen, gave Christie Elliott a shooting opportunity but his effort lacked power and Romero was able to save.
The AEL goalkeeper, however, was more severely tested by a free kick from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair that Romero did well to turn round the post for a corner.
John Baird shot over the bar from 25 yards with the game in its’ final ten minutes but the best chance of them all came with the final whistle just seconds away. Christie Elliott flicked the ball on for Henoc Mukendi who was able to lift the ball over the AEL keeper but only onto the roof of the net.