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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Hamilton Accies – 19th February 2013

Points in the bag are always much more preferable to games in hand and Thistle were able to turn the first of their three games in hand over league leaders Morton into three points with victory in this game against Hamilton, and in doing so close the gap at the top to five points. The 1-0 victory over Hamilton although narrow was a richly deserved one and as well as earning Thistle full points it provuided Alan Archibald with his first win as Thistle manager.
In his second game in charge Archibald made two changes to the side that had drawn 2-2 with Morton. The suspended Hugh Murray was obviously unavailable while Ross Forbes dropped to the bench. In their place came Stephen O’Donnell and Steven Lawless; two players who have missed a fair bit of football recently due to injury.
On a cold night Thistle made something of a nervy start to the match and the first half chance of the evening fell to Hamilton’s Darian MacKinnon who shot over the bar after Stevie May had managed to knock the ball back into his path.
Thistle though were soon into their stride and were in almost total control during the first 45 minutes but were unable to make the breakthrough that their play clearly merited.
The closest the came to a first half goal was an Aaron Muirhead header from a Stuart Bannigan free kick in the 18th minute that Cuthbert in the Hamilton goal somehow managed to prevent from entering the back of the night.
There were other close things in and around the Hamilton box with the ball on numerous occasions just not falling right for Thistle inside the Hamilton penalty area. Aaron Sinclair wasn’t too far away with a shot from the left hand corner of the box before the same player saw an effort blocked by a Hamilton defender after he had been set up by Steven Lawless.
The ball was cleared off the line following a Lawless corner on the right in the 38th minute with Aaron Muirhead rather snatching at the opportunity that came his way when the ball was cleared into his path.
At the other end Hamilton offered very little, although Scott Fox had to turn a shot round the post for a corner and excellent defending from Conrad Balatoni rescued a potentially dangerous situation as May advanced into the Thistle box after possession had been given away cheaply in midfield.
The half-time score, however, remained goalless.
Thistle were close to finally opening the scoring just five minutes after the restart when Steven Craig headed over a Stuart Bannigan cross. The game’s opening, and ultimately only, goal though would soon arrive, and it came via the penalty spot.
Steven Craig was able to work the ball into the path of Chris Erskine and as Erskine drove at the heart of the Hamilton defence he had his legs taken away from him with the result a rather obvious penalty kick.
Aaron Muirhead was the player entrusted with the spot kick and he tucked the ball into the bottom right hand corner with the minimum of fuss.
A second Thistle goal would have provided them with a degree of comfort and they would have had it in the 68th minute had Cuthbert not produced another excellent stop; this time to prevent Chris Erskine from finding the back of the net.
Ten minutes later Stuart Bannigan spurned a great chance to score the second Thistle goal that would have settled a few nerves.  Bannigan, recent capped at under 21 level for Scotland, was unable to force the ball past Cuthbert from inside the six yard box.
You can never be truly comfortable when your lead is just a solitary goal and there was some anxiety as Hamilton pushed men forward in the closing stages of the game. Scott Fox, however, was never seriously called into action although he did watch nervously as a deflected shot slid past his right hand post with the game deep into the final five minutes.
Thistle though would claim the three points and extend an unbeaten run to a fourth game while increasing the pressure on the one side above them in the league table.

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