Saturday 21st July, 2012 at 8:43pm
Thistle reached tomorrow’s Final of the ARR Craib Cup with a comfortable and merited 2-0 with over a Celtic XI that offered little in the way of resistance to Thistle who dominated almost the entire 90 minutes.
It was Celtic, however, that had the game’s first genuine chance. Tony Watt was able to escape his marker at the end of the Thistle box and his effort went wide of Scott Fox’s dive, but also wide of goal.
After that early scare Thistle were pretty much in control for the remainder of the half. They came close to scoring in the 8th minute. Steven Lawless’ beautifully weighted pass was collected by Stephen O’Donnell who cross in turn was flicked goalwards by Christie Elliott who saw his effort saved on the line by Robbie Thomson in the Celtic goal.
Thomson, arguably the best Celtic player on show, was called into action three minutes later. Chris Erskine ran at the heart of the Celtic defence and after his skill had opened things up he saw his low shot turned round the post for a corner.
Thistle were moving the ball well over the excellent Firhill surface but they were forced to reorganise after Aaron Sinclair and Celtic’s Lewis Toshney clashed heads. The Celtic player was able to continue after being bandaged up but Sinclair was replaced by Sean Welsh.
Welsh’s first serious involvement in the game was to put Thistle 1-0 ahead in the 32nd minute. Paul Paton swung the ball over from the right hand side and Welsh’s header found the left hand corner of Thomson’s goal.
Welsh could even have had a second goal just three minutes later. Chris Erskine’s trickery give him a clear sight of the Celtic goal inside their penalty box. Thomson, however, made a fine save to deny Erskine goal, with the loose ball falling to Welsh who rather mishit his effort over the bar.
Thistle at this stage probably should have been at least a further goal clear and they were nearly made to pay for a failure to score a second goal when Scott Fox had to tip a Rasmussen effort over the bar.
The half finished though with Thistle firmly on top and after Christie Elliott had been fouled just outside the Celtic penalty box, Aaron Muirhead was unlucky to see his well struck free-kick pushed away by Thomson.
It took Thistle just 4 minutes of the second half to net the second goal that their play clearly merited. After good work from Christie Elliott, Steven Lawless netted his fourth pre-season goal with an excellent finish from the edge of the box.
With a regular flow of substitutes throughout the second half there wasn’t the same degree of fluidity to Thistle’s performance as there had been during the opening half. They did, however, remain much the better side with Celtic only infrequently posing any threat to the Thistle goal.
Callum McGregor though did force Scott Fox into a smart save to his left from a free kick in the 74th minutes.
Thistle though continued to look the more likely to score again. Aaron Muirhead, who impressed in his first Firhill appearance, forced Thomson into a save with a shot from 20 yards and a Kris Doolan shot clipped the edge of the post after the ball had been laid back into his path by Mark McGuigan. Paul Paton too came close with a shot that was just a yard or two too high as Thistle ran out comfortable winners.