Saturday 21st April, 2018 at 8:50pm
Almost three months after their last win in any competition, Partick Thistle welcomed Hamilton Accies to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill with a huge three points at stake. The match was not the first port of call in Maryhill earlier today as the afternoon began with tributes to the late John Lambie who had a huge impact on both Partick Thistle and Hamilton. There were banners displayed in the newly named John Lambie Stand honouring the legendary gaffer who did so much for Partick Thistle Football Club.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side who narrowly lost out to Kilmarnock two weeks ago. Ryan Scully dropped back to the bench with Tomas Cerny returning to the Thistle side after three weeks out through injury. The back four was left unchanged with Christie Elliott, Niall Keown, Baily Cargill and Callum Booth making up the Jags’ backline. In midfield, Martin Woods replaced Abdul Osman with Andrew McCarthy retaining his starting spot beside the ex-Ross County man. The three in behind the striker also remained unaltered with Blair Spittal, Steven Lawless and Chris Erskine supporting Kris Doolan who came in for Conor Sammon up top.
The Jags started the match positively and showed their intent five minutes in. Chris Erskine skipped away from an Accies challenge and tried a right-footed shot across goal. The number ten dragged his shot well wide of the far post but his effort set the tone for Thistle early dominance of the game.
The hosts went close once again in the 11th minute as Kris Doolan went close to his 100th league goal for Partick Thistle. Andrew McCarthy stole the ball off an Accies man expertly and Chris Erskine was able to feed Kris Doolan. The talismanic frontman moved into the box and poked the ball goalward under pressure and on the stretch. He got a decent amount of power behind his shot but Gary Woods was out quickly and made a good save to deny the marksman, Doolan.
For the opening 35 minutes, Thistle were well in control of proceedings, however, they struggled to create much with a number of decent attacking opportunities being sniffed out by good defending or confident cross-claiming by Accies ‘stopper, Gary Woods and the home side would be made to rue their failure to capitalise on early control when the visitors went ahead on 43 minutes.
The goal came from a forward pass which Christie Elliott attempted to intercept. The full-back made the move to header the ball but didn’t get enough on it, allowing the ball to reach David Templeton and leaving the Jags rear-guard a man down. Templeton then moved towards the hosts’ 18-yard box, shifting onto his right foot before bending a low shot home into the bottom corner to give the away side the lead.
The game went into half-time at 1-0 and the Jags would no doubt be feeling hard done by after a positive start to the game. The Maryhill men had struggled to convert their possession into clear cut opportunities and it had cost them. Templeton, who had been Hamilton’s outstanding player from the opening 45 minutes, made the most of his time on the ball showing the bit of quality that Thistle had been sorely lacking for some weeks.
Alan Archibald made a change early in the second half, altering not only the personnel on the pitch but also the formation of his side. In the 56th minute, Steven Lawless was withdrawn with Conor Sammon being introduced to the game. The move saw Thistle go to a 4-3-1-2 set-up with Sammon slotting in beside Kris Doolan who had looked isolated at time during the game.
The change gave Thistle an extra dimension up top but just three minutes after the substitution, Accies had a terrific opportunity to double their advantage. Marios Ogkmpoe was the man with the shot after a quick turnover of possession in Hamilton’s favour. He was forced slightly wide but still had a decent angle for a shot, however, he fired an effort straight at Tomas Cerny who got plenty behind the shot with the danger subsiding after the save.
That save would prove to be an important one too as Thistle drew level just six minutes later. In the second phase of play following a corner, Callum Booth delivered a left-footed cross into the visitors’ box. The ball found the head of expert attacker, Kris Doolan who had miraculously created a few yards of space in a crowded penalty area before nodding home from 15 yards. Doolan, as he so often has before, helped to get the Jags back into a positive mind-set and, in the process, he bagged his 100th league goal in the red and yellow of Partick Thistle, becoming the first man to achieve the feat all whilst wearing the captain’s armband, consolidating his status as a Thistle great.
Following the goal, Ryan Edwards came on for Andrew McCarthy as Alan Archibald looked to rejuvenate the midfield with the Australian’s endless reserves of energy.
The goal had a visible effect on the team as suddenly everything started to click. Passes were finding the right men, second balls were falling the hosts’ way and eventually, the second goal did come in the 72nd minute. A corner, won by Conor Sammon after some excellent interplay with Blair Spittal, was whipped into the Hamilton box. A scramble ensued suddenly with Niall Keown and Chris Erskine trying desperately to bundle the ball home for a vital goal but the ball was half-cleared by the visiting Accies. Unfortunately for Martin Canning’s men, the clearance fell straight to Jags substitute Ryan Edwards who rifled a low shot towards goal. The shot took a very slight deflection which was enough to take it past Gary Woods and into the back of the net as the entire team sprinted to the dugout to celebrate a crucial goal.
The final 18 minutes plus stoppage time were very nervy ones for everyone associated with Partick Thistle as the Jags have already tasted the disappointment of conceding a late goal against Hamilton this year. Nevertheless, the Thistle defence was resolute and, with the help of Adam Barton who came on for Blair Spittal in the 90th minute, they held on for the three points.
The win takes Thistle to within two points of today’s opposition and a point clear of Ross County as the Jags come off the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership table once again. The Maryhill men must now look towards a meeting with St. Johnstone next Saturday as they prepare for their first of two post-split away games. Kick-off is 15:00 from McDiarmid Park.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Elliott, Keown, Cargill, Booth, McCarthy (Edwards, 65’), M. Woods, Spittal (Barton, 90’), Erskine, Lawless (Sammon, 56’), Doolan.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, McGinn, Osman, Storey.
HAMILTON ACADEMICAL TEAM: G. Woods, Imrie, Want, Tomas, van der Weg (McMann, 84’), Lyon, Ferguson, Jenkins, Templeton (Miller, 66’), Ogkmpoe, Bingham (Redmond, 58’).
UNUSED SUBS (HMA): Fulton, Scott, Hughes, Cunningham.
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