Saturday 23rd December, 2017 at 8:53pm
Having suffered four defeats in their first five games of a hectic eight-game December, Partick Thistle looked to get back on track as they faced Hamilton in Maryhill. Despite Thistle’s poor overall form, the Jags had won three of their last four at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. The game offered not only a chance for Thistle to get one over on one of their bottom six rivals but also another opportunity to get off the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership with Ross County, who were playing away at Hibernian at the same time, only two points ahead of the Maryhill men at the beginning of play.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side which lost 2-0 to Celtic three days ago. Miles Storey dropped to the bench to be replaced by Kris Doolan. Jordan Turnbull was suspended for the day’s game and as such was replaced in the starting XI by Martin Woods while Andrew McCarthy fell to the bench after a good midweek performance, making way for Chris Erskine who started his first match in four. Adam Barton dropped into the defence in Jordan Turnbull’s absence to form a three with Niall Keown and Daniel Devine while Paul McGinn and Steven Lawless played at wing-back. Martin Woods and Ryan Edwards provided the base in midfield while Blair Spittal sat just ahead of the duo. Up front, Chris Erskine played just off Thistle goalscoring centurion, Kris Doolan.
The match began well for Thistle as they almost broke the deadlock on seven minutes. Under the pressure of Chris Erskine, Scott McCann played a dreadful back pass that allowed Erskine a run on goal. The midfielder tried to break into the box and shoot but the ball wouldn’t sit for him and McCann made an excellent recovery challenge to put the ball behind.
The resulting corner is whipped in by Martin Woods finding Niall Keown. The ex-Reading man then heads on goal. Unfortunately for Keown, he can only find the side netting as another chance goes begging for the hosts in a crucial game.
Luckily for Alan Archibald’s Jags, they would take the lead despite passing up a pair of good opportunities. It was the same connection that saw them go close previously that created the opener as Martin Woods once again picked out Keown with a corner kick. This time Niall’s marker, Georgios Sarris tripped and fell as he scampered toward the ball allowing Keown to stroke the ball home with his right foot, beating Gary Woods easily at the back post.
The hosts went mightily close to a lead-doubling second just two minutes after breaking the deadlock. Kris Doolan was played in behind by a lofted ball from the Thistle half and he collected before looking to pick out a teammate in the box. With both Chris Erskine and Blair Spittal making good offers he seemed to play it in for the former. Accies defender, Xavier Tomas got a toe to the ball but the deflection just took the ball into the path of Blair Spittal. The number seven shot low for the near post with his right foot but his effort just fizzed wide as the Jags top scorer missed out on his eighth goal of the season in all competitions.
The teams went into the interval with the score at 1-0 thanks to Niall Keown’s second strike of the season. Based on the balance of play and chances created it was fair that the home side were in the lead as Accies had struggled to halt the attacking power in the Jags team.
Despite a much improved start to the second half it was Thistle who clipped the bar in the 58th minute. A quick Jags break saw Blair Spittal feed Chris Erskine the ball as he charged goalward. Erskine then saw the run of Kris Doolan at the back post and aimed to find his strike partner but as he tried the square pass, he failed to get his foot round the ball and his delivery flew towards goal. The ball sailed over Gary Woods and clipped of the top of the crossbar as Thistle’s counter-attack almost gave them a two-goal lead.
Alan Archibald made his first change of the match when Mile Storey was introduced to the match, replacing Chris Erskine who had performed well on the day.
Hamilton passed up on their best chance of the match so far when Tomáš Černý denied the SuperSeal Stadium side a leveller on 71 minutes. Steven Lawless looked to hook the ball clear but smashed the ball off Accies attacker, Rakish Bingham. The ball then spun into the path of David Templeton who struck on goal with a first time shot. Tomáš Černý was alert and well positioned though and was able to bat the ball away with two strong hands.
Templeton went very close once again with 13 minutes remaining of the regulation 90. The number 16 picked up some space around 25 yards from goal and he decided to thump a shot goalward. His effort dipped and swerved before ricocheting off the bar as Tomáš Černý stood rooted to the spot.
Thistle made two more changes in the latter stages to freshen things up. A tiring Martin Woods was replaced by Andrew McCarthy on 78 minutes as the former Ross County midfielder completed another solid performance. Kris Doolan was also withdrawn and Conor Sammon came on his place with six minutes left of the game.
Hamilton were unable to muster up any further chances in the late stages and the Jags held out for a narrow victory. News then filtered into the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill that Hibernian had beaten Ross County meaning for the first time since the end of November, Thistle were off the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Alan Archibald’s side now turn their attention to Wednesday’s clash with second-placed Aberdeen. Kick-off is 19:45 from Pittodrie.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, McGinn, Keown, Barton, Devine (c), Lawless, M. Woods (McCarthy, 78′), Edwards, Spittal, Erskine (Storey, 63′), Doolan (Sammon, 84′).
THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Scully, Nitriansky, Nisbet.
HAMILTON TEAM: G. Woods, Lyon (Gogic, 83′), Sarris, McMann, Tomas, Imrie (c), MacKinnon, Docherty, Redmond (Crawford, 61′), Templeton, Rojano (Bingham, 61′).
HAMILTON SUBS (N/U): Fulton, Gillespie, Donati, Cunningham.
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