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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Celtic – 18th August 2018

Following back to back victories over Falkirk and Stranraer, Partick Thistle competed in a third competition in the last seven days as Celtic came to Maryhill for a Betfred Cup round of 16 clash. The Jags secured a first league win of the season against Falkirk last Saturday before romping past Stranraer by beating the Blues 5-0 in the Irn-Bru Cup on Tuesday.

Alan Archibald made three changes to the side who started at Stair Park in midweek with the first of those coming in goals as Jamie Sneddon returned to the bench to be replaced by Cammy Bell who sat out Tuesday’s fixture. The back four remained the same as it was once again Christie Elliott, Tam O’Ware, Sean McGinty and Max Melbourne across the backline while James Penrice sat just in front of the rear-guard as he did against Stranraer. Shea Gordon and Jack Storer completed the midfield while Blair Spittal, Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo and Kris Doolan formed a three-pronged frontline. The bench featured Jamie Sneddon, Niall Keown, Callum Wilson, Craig Slater, Aidan Fitzpatrick and Chris Erskine with Miles Storey, Stuart Bannigan and Andrew McCarthy all missing out through injury.

As expected, the match started frantically with Celtic looking to impose themselves on the contest and Cammy Bell was called into action in the fifth minute. Smart work from Leigh Griffiths got him away from Tam O’Ware and the ex-Wolves man played the ball across the box, finding Tom Rogic. He tried to beat Cammy Bell at the near post but the Jags’ number one was able to save down to his right.

Celtic continued their dominance throughout the early stages and would capitalise on their control in the 18th minute as Leigh Griffiths bagged his first of the 2018/19 season. Scott Sinclair, who had looked dangerous up to that point, got past Christie Elliott on the Bhoys’ left wing. He then cleverly reversed a ball towards the penalty spot, where Leigh Griffiths had positioned himself and the Scotland international striker struck home despite the best efforts of several Thistle bodies in the goalmouth.

The visitors had another half chance after 24 minutes as Mikey Johnston got a shot away on the Jags goal. A quick one-two between Johnston and Hoops midfielder, Tom Rogic got the former into the hosts’ box and he fired a low shot on target. The attempt had plenty of power behind it but was straight at Cammy Bell who saved and held.

Unfortunately for Thistle, they were forced into their first change of the game in the 37th minute as Shea Gordon was forced off the pitch with a knee injury. The Motherwell loanee went down shortly after a meaty challenge with Kris Ajer and was replaced by Craig Slater after coming back onto the pitch very briefly.

There was one last chance in the first half and it was for the away team once again as Olivier Ntcham went close. The Frenchman picked up the ball midway inside the Thistle half and took a shot, looking to replicate the ranged effort he scored in Maryhill at the start of last season.

The teams went into the interval separated by Leigh Griffiths’ strike in the 18th minute with almost all the play going Celtic’s way, however, Thistle had given a decent account of themselves without quite carving out any real chances. Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo had looked dangerous when in possession and James Penrice had performed admirably in front of the back four. With a couple of good options remaining on the bench, the home side were very much still in the game at 1-0.

In the 51st minute, new Jags signing, Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo had his first sight of goal as he took the opportunity to shoot from 25 yards. He picked up the ball just outside the Celtic box before firing an effort goalwards, however, the DR Congo international dragged his shot wide, causing Scott Bain no problems whatsoever.

In the 58th minute, the Jags made their second alteration of the day as Kris Doolan was withdrawn to be replaced by Chris Erskine who was looking to add to his goal against Falkirk and his assist against Stranraer. Then in the 70th minute Thistle’s final change as Academy graduate, Aidan Fitzpatrick replaced Jack Storer.

Fitzpatrick made a near-instant impact too as he set up the Jags’ equaliser after two minutes on the pitch. Blair Spittal laid the ball off to the youngster and Aidan nipped past two Celtic challenges before dribbling away from Kris Ajer. He then slotted a well-weighted pass into Andréa Mbuyi-Mutomb, who now occupied the striker’s role, and the Belgian-born forward slotted past Scott Bain, knocking the ball in off the far post. The goal sent the Thistle fans wild as the Jags recorded their 14th goal of the season in game number eight.

The lead wouldn’t last long though as the visitors re-established their lead three minutes later. Christian Gamboa surged forward from right-back and delivered a low, whipped cross into the danger area. Celtic substitute, Moussa Dembele was the man to meet it as instinctively lifted a leg at the ball, diverting it past Cammy Bell.

The Hoops would make it three quickly thereafter with Christian Gamboa once again the provider for the travelling holders. The Costa Rican defender once again advanced down the Celtic right, firing a lovely cross into the box. This time Tom Rogic was the man to get on the end of it with the Aussie playmaker volleying home with his right foot from relatively close range.

There were no more chances of note in the closing stages with the match ending 3-1 to the treble-winning Celts. Thistle had done well to stick in the game until the final 20 minutes with Mutombo taking his goal well but Celtic’s depth of squad helped them power through with Moussa Dembele coming off the bench to put them back in front.

The Jags now look forward to a clash with Dundee United as they return to league action next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 at Tannadice in the Ladbrokes Championship.

THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, O’Ware, McGinty, Melbourne, Penrice, Gordon (Slater, 37’), Storer (Fitzpatrick, 70’), Mbuyi-Mutombo, Spittal, Doolan (Erskine, 58’).

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Keown, Wilson.

CELTIC TEAM: Bain, Gamboa, Hendry, Ajer, Izaguirre, Brown, Ntcham (McGregor, 78’), Rogic, Sinclair, Johnston (Forrest, 69’), Griffiths (Dembele, 64’).

UNUSED SUBS (CEL): Gordon, Simunovic, Lustig, Hayes.

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