Saturday 10th November, 2012 at 9:08pm
In front of Firhill’s biggest league crowd for over 8 years, and that a SPL fixture, Thistle went back to the top of the league in scintillating style.
Although the manager’s team selection showed just the one change to the side that had started against Cove in the Scottish Cup, Alan Archibald returning while the suspended Steven Craig sat out, the shape of the team raised a few eyebrows. Aaron Muirhead moved over to right back with Stephen O’Donnell pushed further forward up the field.
The wisdom behind the manager’s thought process soon became apparent and Thistle were close to opening the scoring inside the game’s first minute. Thistle quickly forced a corner on the right hand side and when Dunfermline couldn’t clear Aaron Sinclair saw his shot smothered on his goal line by Dunfermline keeper Gallacher.
An opening goal for Thistle, however, was merely delayed. With just five minutes on the clock, Stephen O’Donnell swung over a cross to the back post that Steven Lawless managed to divert into the net from a tight angle.
With the stadium rocking Thistle looked to press home their early advantage and Ross Forbes was unlucky not to double Thistle’s advantage in the 12th minute, but saw Gallacher turn his well struck shot round the post for a corner.
Dunfermline though, despite Thistle’s whirlwind start, were able to force themselves back into the game. A free kick from the right hand side initially caused the Thistle defence problems before Scott Fox was able to gather the ball. It was a free kick from a similar position that led to Dunfermline’s equaliser in the 24th minute. This time as the ball came across Aaron Muirhead knocked the ball into his own net.
Six minutes later Dunfermline could even have been in front. Ryan Wallace got clear of the Thistle defence on the right hand side of the Thistle box and his angled drive was only just wide of Fox’s right hand post.
Thistle though regained their lead in the 34th minute. Gallacher had been called into action to deny Doolan and O’Donnell in quick succession but he had no chance when Conrad Balatoni bulleted home a Ross Forbes corner.
Five minutes later and Thistle were well on the way to full points and top of the league. Chris Erskine sent Stephen O’Donnell clear and when left with just Gallacher to beat O’Donnell deftly lifted the ball over the Dunfermline keeper and into the net.
Dunfermline have been noted for their comebacks this season and a two goal lead wasn’t an entirely comfortable advantage at half-time. Indeed had Dunfermline managed to pull a goal back at the start of the second half then the outcome may have been in the balance once more. And they had a chance to do just that. Three minutes after the restart a corner kick fell at the feet of Ryan Thomson and had his shot gone either side of, rather than straight at, Scott Fox then Dunfermline would have reduced the deficit to just one goal.
Instead, in the 56th minute, Thistle found themselves three goals clear. A corner kick was cleared only as far as Ross Forbes and his shot from fully 35 yards was destined for the back of the net from the second it left his foot.
Having scored his first goal of the season in the first half, Stephen O’Donnell nearly grabbed himself a second goal as the game approached the hour mark but this time he couldn’t find a way past Gallacher.
Scott Fox had been having an altogether quieter afternoon but his involvement in the game was to come to an end in 70th minute when injury forced him to come off with Ryan Scully taking over in goal.
Scully would have little to do in the 20 minutes of the game that remained. Most of the action continued to come in front of the Dunfermline goal and in the 75th minute Thistle had a fifth goal. A corner was only partially cleared and Steven Lawless was able to seize the opportunity given to him at the edge of the box to net his second goal of the afternoon.
That completed the scoring for the afternoon but Thistle were close to heaping more misery on Dunfermline most notably when Aaron Sinclair spotted Kris Doolan to his left with Doolan’s effort thumping into the midriff of Gallacher.
There were few, if any complaints, at full-time that Thistle hadn’t managed a sixth goal. The well deserved ovation that the players received from an appreciative Thistle support was a fair indication of just how good Thistle’s performance had been.