Saturday 8th December, 2018 at 8:00pm
Nearly a month after their last home fixture, Partick Thistle returned to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill this afternoon to take on Dunfermline Athletic. The travelling Pars came into the game off the back of a 3-0 home win over Morton a week prior while it had been nine games without the taste of victory for their hosts.
With Gary Caldwell still awaiting his first win as Jags boss, he made three changes to the side that was defeated at Palmerston last Saturday. Jamie Sneddon remained in goal with Cammy Bell still sidelined, however, there was a change in front of him. Dundee loanee, Dan Jefferies came in as part of the back three to make his debut alongside Tam Scobbie and Sean McGinty. Once again, James Penrice and Christie Elliott were the wing backs with Stuart Bannigan and Blair Spittal in central midfield. In the attack, Miles Storey and Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo played wide, replacing Chris Erskine and Aidan Fitzpatrick while Kris Doolan started up front again looking to end a seven game goalless run.
The home side came flying out of the blocks and established their dominance early with a shot on target after a matter of seconds. Tam Scobbie won a header inside the Thistle half and found James Penrice with the knockdown. The Thistle Weir Youth Academy graduate then charged forward and unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards which Lee Robinson needed two attempts to hold.
Then after just over ten minutes of back and forth, the Jags took the lead through Blair Spittal. The deadlock-breaking strike came from James Penrice’s cross which feel in the box with Kris Doolan fighting for the loose ball which deflected into Spittal’s path. The number seven who missed a penalty in Thistle’s last home game then more than made amends by slamming home the opener with his right foot, leaving Lee Robinson with no chance in the away side’s goal.
Eight minutes after the goal, Thistle could have easily been two ahead following back-to-back chances. The first opportunity fell to Miles Storey who saw an attempt from a tough angle saved, however, he then collected the rebound and lifted a delicate cross towards the back post where Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo met it. Unfortunately, the Belgian-born attacker was unable to keep his headed effort under the bar and the score remained 1-0.
Another chance came for the Maryhill men on the half hour mark as Kris Doolan had his first sight of goal. The Thistle legend latched onto a ball over the Dunfermline defence and brought it under control with his first touch before shooting with his second, however, that touch gave Robinson time to close the angle and the Pars ‘stopper made the block at close range.
The visitors came close to drawing level in the 43rd minute as an ex-Thistle man almost netted on his return to Maryhill. It was Danny Devine whose header caused the problems for the home team with the central defender meeting a deep corner into the Jags box. Devine failed to score in any of his 71 appearances in the red and yellow and luckily for Thistle he wasn’t able to score here either as his attempt skipped up off the turf and came back off Jamie Sneddon’s crossbar.
Shortly following that Gary Caldwell switched things up with his first substitution of the day. Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo was withdrawn with Andrew McCarthy coming on for the DR Congo international. This meant a change of formation as the team changed for a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2 with Miles Storey going from right-wing to centre forward.
Then right on the stroke of half time Dunfermline had another decent opportunity to make it 1-1. This time it was Faissal El Bakhtaoui with a header as he got on the end of a cross from the Dunfermline right. The Tunisian forward tried to power an effort beyond Jamie Sneddon but the number 23 was equal to it, tipping the shot over the bar magnificently.
With that, the Jags got into half time with their lead intact as Blair Spittal’s goal separating the teams. Thistle and Dunfermline had both had chances with the latter’s best football being played in the final ten minutes of the opening 45.
Thistle regained some level of dominance as the second half got underway with Miles Storey seeing two very similar opportunities saved by Lee Robinson. However, the attacker was not deterred and was rewarded for his persistence in the 56th minute as he scored his first league goal of the season. James Penrice was the creator as he drove forward into the Pars’ box and played a low ball across to Miles Storey. Storey used a smart flick to direct the ball goalwards and by the time Lee Robinson got to the ball, it had already crossed the line with the assistant flagging to indicate as much.
With 11 minutes to go, Gary Caldwell made his second change of the game with Chris Erskine coming on at left-midfield, replacing Kris Doolan. With this, the team moved into a 5-4-1 formation with Blair Spittal the other wide midfielder and Miles Storey the lone striker. However, Storey would be subject to the Jags final substitution as Jai Quitongo was brought on for the final few minutes.
Dunfermline had a couple of half chances in added time through Lewis McCann but with one saved and one off target, it wasn’t to be for the away side and things finished 2-0.
The win lifts Thistle above Alloa and Falkirk into eighth with the Wasps visiting Maryhill next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Sneddon, Jefferies, Scobbie, McGinty, Elliott, Bannigan, Spittal, Penrice, Storey (Quitongo, 87’), Mutombo (McCarthy, 43’), Doolan (Erskine, 79’).
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Stevenson, Keown, Ntambwe, Storer.
DUNFERMLINE ATHLETIC TEAM: Robinson, Williamson, Devine, Ashcroft, Longridge, Craigen (Hippolyte, 58’), Vincent (Beadling, 58’), Thomson, Muirhead (McCann, 85’), El Bakhtaoui, Keena.
UNUSED SUBS (DFA): Gill, L. Martin, Durnan, M. Martin.
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