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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Hamilton Academical – 21st January 2015

Thistle welcomed a Hamilton Accies side still flying high in the top half of the table with the Jags looking to bounce back from the disappointing result up in Perth.

Manager, Alan Archibald, was able to make changes from the side that lost to Saints with Frederic Frans, Christie Elliott, James Craigen and Kallum Higginbotham all returning to the starting line-up. Elliott lined up at left back as Dale Keenan dropped to the bench alongside Conrad Balatoni. Kiwi, Scott Basalaj, took his place on the bench instead of the injured Scott Fox. There was also a welcome return for club captain Sean Welsh who also featured among the Thistle subs.

The home side were the first to threaten when a brilliant piece of skill from Ryan Stevenson, taking a high ball on his knee, allowed him to send a first time pass behind the Accies defence for Higginbotham to burst through. Unfortunately for the returning winger, the Accies defence recovered, and Higginbotham went down under a challenge.

Accies’ Crawford fired a couple of shots just wide of Gallacher’s post as the visitors looked to catch the Jags defence on the hop. Thistle looked dangerous throughout the opening skirmishes though and Stephen O’Donnell worked himself some space on the right before cutting inside on to his left foot. Unfortunately for the in demand right back his shot was easily saved by McGovern.

It was Accies that would strike next catching Thistle on the break as Crawford drove forward before passing to Antoine-Curier who thankfully he dragged his 18 yard shot wide of the target.

It was Gallacher who had his gloves warmed first as Devlin forced a good save from the veteran keeper, with a header as both sides looked for the opener. O’Donnell hit another effort wide and Stevenson could do little with a cross fired straight at his head before Thistle drew first blood.

The Jags opened the scoring after 29 minutes, O’Donnell’s long throw was headed clear to the edge of the box, Higginbotham fired a rasping shot which McGovern did well to parry. It was Stevenson who reacted quickest flicking the ball across the box and Doolan tapped the ball home into an empty net from two yards out. 1-0 Thistle.

The home side now had their tails up and a Frans header flashed across the box, just wide. Higginbotham then skinned two defenders but his cross was too firm to coax a touch out of any of the Thistle front men.

O’Donnell linked up well with Higginbotham, as they did all nght, and got himself into the box, looking certain to get a shot away, only to get the ball caught in his feet and see the chance disappear.

In the 43rd minute Lawless flashed a shot inches wide after great build up involving Stevenson, O’Donnell and Doolan and, unfortunately for the visitors, it was a sign of things to come as sixty seconds later it was 2-0.

Lawless dug out a great cross and Doolan brilliantly controlled the ball, turned his man and fired low and powerfully past McGovern to give the home side a two goal lead at half time.

Thistle continued on the front foot and, in the 50th minute, it should have been three. Lawless slipped his man and curled a wonderful effort that smashed off the bar and fell to Stevenson just five yards out with the goal gaping. Thistle’s number 10 took a touch and it allowed McGovern to scramble across and save. On another day that might have been a sign of things to come for Thistle but not this night as, on the hour mark, Thistle did get a third.

Lawless did brilliantly to win a header at the edge of the box that found Doolan, he collected the ball with his back to goal and cheekily back heeled the ball past the stunned McGovern to make it 3-0 and complete his first senior hat-trick.

Neither Dools or Thistle were finished though.

Just 80 seconds after the third a magnificent O’Donnell cross on the right was met by the head of Doolan who seemed to hang in the air before powering the header home giving McGovern no chance whatsoever. It was party time at Firhill.

Sean Welsh made his return to the pitch in the 69th minute and McDaid came on too, as Thistle continued to pour forward.

Doolan nearly grabbed himself a fifth when brilliant play from McDaid and Lawless saw Dools right foot volley saved on the line by McGovern.

Lawless, who played well but had no luck in front of goal, then saw his 20yard shot saved before, in the 89th minute, the Jags scored a fifth.

McDaid did brilliantly to beat his man and drive forward, he fed the ball to Lawless who sent Elliott flying down the wing. His left foot cross was met by substitute, Eccleston, whose effort was brilliantly saved by McGovern. Eccleston was sharp though and reacted quickest to slot home and make the final score 5-0.

A faultless performance from the Jags and, while one man will rightly take the plaudits, make no mistake, this was a fantastic team performance from back to front.

Thistle: Gallacher, O’Donnell, Seaborne, Frans, Elliott, Osman (69), Craigen, Higginbotham (72), Stevenson, Lawless, Doolan (80)

Subs: Basalaj, Welsh (Osman), Balatoni, Eccleston (Doolan), Wilson, McDaid (Higginbotham), Keenan

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