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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Ayr United – 17th December 2022

Match Report written by Amy Banks

After that dramatic late equaliser against Cove Rangers, Partick Thistle returned to familiar surroundings on Saturday in the search of maintaining a home winning streak as they took on the current league leaders Ayr United at Firhill.

Naming 2 changes from the draw last weekend, Ian McCall brought in Aidan Fitzpatrick and Stuart Bannigan for Lee Hodson and Cammy Smith, who began the match on the bench.

Thistle showed an uncharted dominance for the opening 5 minutes of the fixture, finding success getting in behind the Ayr back line. After several blocked attempts and corners, the most notable scoring opportunity fell to the feet of Brian Graham, who following a cross ball played in from outside the box tipped the ball just wide of the post. Thistle showed an aura of determination to make the game theirs and gave the team at the top a lot to reconsider from kick off.

The high home spirits were soon dampened by the opposition however, as Ayr capitalised on a loss of possession from the centre of the pitch leading Ayr’s number 9 Dipo Akinyemi to break forward at pace and curl the ball into the top corner beyond the reach of both the Partick Thistle defence and Jamie Sneddon in the 9th minute, giving Ayr the opener and rallying the noise of the travelling support.

A riled up away side paired with the gritted determination of the home side left most of the first 20 minutes with either team struggling to locate an opening and the ball very rarely exited the centre third. The Jags however pieced together several intricate passes paired with some enticing breaks forward, which suggested that it would only be a matter of time before the score levelled.

Following his bright run at the Ayr back line, Kyle Turner forced a Thistle corner which he sent looping high into the heavily congested box. Leaping higher than those who surrounded him, the ball landed at the head of the eventual ‘Man of the Match’ Harry Milne, who placed it into the back of the net in the 21st minute, putting the game level and reigniting the belief that the all important three points were available for anyone to take.

From the equaliser, the match resumed a level of Thistle majority as the Jags looked to double their lead before the break. Steven Lawless found a gap in the Ayr defence and placed a precise high cross towards the body of Brian Graham whose shot fell wide of the post and minutes later Fitzpatrick danced his way through a host of Ayr jerseys, but his pass proved unable to be capitalised upon. The Firhill crowd were in electrifying spirit as the Jags continued to push forward in their bid to get ahead, knowing that any attack could be the one to gain the goal advantage.

With an additional minute to the first half, Thistle looked increasingly dangerous. Following an attempt that flashed across goal just seconds prior, the ball is put back into the box and sent thundering towards the back of the net by Harry Milne before it took its final touches from Brian Graham in the 46th minute of play. The pair wheeled away in celebration, pictured jokingly deliberating who the goal stood for. Whilst jubilant on one side of the pitch, the goal was being largely contested by the Ayr side who took up their concerns with both the linesman and referee who ultimately remained unphased. This concluded the first half as both sets of players headed down the tunnel to the deafening noise of the Partick Thistle support behind them.

The teams re-emerged for the second half, and it didn’t take long for the Ayr half time substitute Logan Chalmers to make his presence known. Straight from kick off he charged his way past several Thistle players before curling a shot in from the edge of the box and into the top corner of Sneddon’s net, putting this enticing match level in the 47th minute.

Play halted for a period following treatment required for an Ayr injury, but Thistle refused to let this stop their stride as they managed to break up the park and through the Ayr United rearguard. Kyle Turner presented his second assist of the match through a cross to Steven Lawless of who darted a forceful volley into the back of the net 12 minutes into the second half, lighting up the home support who echoed his name in celebration.

It wasn’t just the fans who intensified their energy, it proved not long until the temper of the players on the pitch met the same fate. An altercation arose between Ayr captain Sean McGinty and Brian Graham had the surrounding noise of both fans channelling the suggestion that the respective opposition player should’ve seen red. The claims were soon quietened by the referee who issued the pair with a yellow card and the match continued, where it appeared that everyone on the pitch radiated their flaring emotions towards their play, giving a fiery watch on a rather icy day.

The game settled, and the Jags defended their lead through a huge double save by Jamie Sneddon which prevented the equaliser as the match reached its later stages. The first shot from outside the box hurdled past the Thistle defence but was saved by a diving Sneddon before the imminent rebound from short range was denied again and matched with a resounding cheer from behind the goal. Just moments later, a series of important interceptions were made to prevent any further advances, most notably a Harry Milne challenge that was rewarded by a standing ovation from the Jags fans, who had begun to embrace that the three points were staying at Firhill.

There was one last free kick for the opposition deep into both added time and the Thistle half but after a series of attempts at clearance, the ball fizzled out of play and the eventual final whistle was blown. Met with intense cheers from the home end, the fixture had delivered a fighting Partick Thistle three goals from Milne, Graham and Lawless and the vital three points in the league table.

The Jags compete in one more fixture before Christmas, facing Inverness at Firhill on Friday December 23rd at 7:45pm, where Partick Thistle look to continue their successful home form.

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