Saturday 17th February, 2018 at 8:28pm
With Partick Thistle’s William Hill Scottish Cup journey ending last Saturday away to Celtic, it was a return to the nitty-gritty of Ladbrokes Premiership action as the Jags welcomed Dundee to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. The side started the afternoon one point apart with the Dark Blues just above Thistle in ninth place. A win for either side would lift them to eighth at least until St. Johnstone play Celtic tomorrow.
Alan Archibald made five changes to the side that were defeated 3-2 at Parkhead last Saturday with alterations made to the defence, midfield and attack. Tomas Cerny retained his place between the sticks for the Jags but there were two changes to the four in front of him. Paul McGinn missed the game through suspension so Mustapha Dumbuya came into the side to make his third start since returning from injury. At centre-half, Niall Keown came into the starting XI in place of Daniel Devine, taking his place beside Baily Cargill who was flanked by Callum Booth at left-back. Abdul Osman returned to the starting line-up alongside Martin Woods with Thistle’s skipper, Osman replacing Adam Barton. Ryan Edwards and Chris Erskine both remained in the team at number ten and right-wing respectively while Kris Doolan and Blair Spittal dropped to the bench. Doolan and Spittal made way for Miles Storey and the red-hot Conor Sammon, who was looking for a sixth goal of 2018.
Thistle started the game brightly and created an opening in the third minute. The Jags deployed a well-organised corner routine to create space for Chris Erskine in the Dundee box. Martin Woods then drilled a low delivery towards the Jags’ number ten who shot first time. His effort was on target but was blocked and cleared by the opposition defenders.
The home side continued to control proceedings in the first half and had another good opportunity to break the deadlock in the 26th minute. Miles Storey knocked the ball down the line and flew past Cammy Kerr to get the ball back into the box. It wasn’t going to find a Thistle jersey until a touch off a Dundee man took it towards Martin Woods. The midfielder had little time to think about his shot and simply swung his leg instinctively at it. His effort stayed down but was straight at Elliot Parish allowing the ‘keeper to hold easily.
The hosts had another couple of half chances through Chris Erskine and Callum Booth before they would take the lead with three minutes left of the first half. Mustapha Dumbuya received the ball in some space on the Thistle right and he fed the ball into Chris Erskine. The midfielder then laid the ball off for Dumbuya who was rushing forward. The number two then delivered a curling cross into the Dundee box which Ryan Edwards knocked down. It landed in the vicinity of Conor Sammon who took a touch to bring the ball down before poking it home from close range to give the Jags the lead.
As such, Thistle went into the break with a one goal lead thanks to Sammon’s opener and you would be doing well to find one person in the ground who would argue the lead was undeserved. The home side had controlled almost all of the play in the match and had played some decent football at times with Miles Storey, Chris Erskine, Callum Booth, Martin Woods and Ryan Edwards all involved in attacking moves. However, despite having a few good chances and half-chances, Thistle only held a single-goal advantage which is never a safe one in football.
With the visiting Dundee side chasing the game, they started the second half well and could have been level within five minutes of the restart. Sofien Moussa received the ball in the Jags area and held it on the spot for a moment. He then attempted a volley above his head which he sliced, however, the ball fell to Simon Murray. He struck a shot first time but didn’t catch it and lashed his effort high into the North Stand.
As the Dee attempted to build themselves back into the match, the hosts had a golden opportunity to quash that comeback on 59 minutes. Miles Storey broke to the by-line and whipped a great delivery into the Dundee box. Conor Sammon helped the ball on with a light flick which got it to Chris Erskine. The number ten then turned brilliantly and fired on goal but Elliot Parish made an excellent stop with his right foot to keep the score at 1-0.
Alan Archibald then made a couple of changes as the game wore on. Blair Spittal came on for Chris Erskine in the 70 minutes while Kris Doolan replaced Miles Storey on 79 minutes.
As the game drew closer to a conclusion the pressure from Dundee grew and grew. The Tayside team were throwing everything at the Jags and got a reward for their pushing as they grabbed an equaliser with five minutes left of the regulation 90. The away side turned possession over in the Thistle half and the ball was played into A-Jay Leitch Smith. The Englishman then hit a first time shot without looking which dragged wide of the goal, however, Simon Murray anticipated that and made the move towards goal which allowed him to slam home into the empty net.
Dundee didn’t settle for on goal either as they nicked all three points with a 90th minute winner. The second goal came from a Roarie Deacon corner which then fell to Mark O’Hara. O’Hara fired a shot towards goal which deflected into the path of A-Jay Leitch Smith who cut the ball back into the six-yard box. It came to Steven Caulker who saw a shot blocked by Ryan Edwards on the line but the ball flew up into the air, in front of Simon Murray who nodded home from a couple of yards.
It was the all too familiar feeling of late heartbreak for Thistle as the roles were reversed from the Jags Maryhill meeting with Dundee earlier in the season. The defeat leaves Thistle in tenth just a single point above the relegation play-off position with six games left before the split.
Alan Archibald’s Jags now have to begin preparations for next Saturday’s clash with 11th place Hamilton as Thistle continue their push for Premiership survival. Kick-off is 15:00 from the SuperSeal Stadium.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Dumbuya, Keown, Cargill, Booth, Osman, Woods, Erskine (Spittal, 70’), Edwards, Storey (Doolan, 79’), Sammon.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Devine, Penrice, Barton, Lawless.
DUNDEE TEAM: Parish, Kerr, Caulker, Meekings, Aurtenetxe, Kamara, McGowan, O’Hara, Deacon (Curran, 79’), Moussa (Leitch-Smith, 60’), Murray.
UNUSED SUBS (DND): Malherbe, O’Dea, El Bakhtaoui, Spence, Lambert.
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