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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Hibernian – 15th March 2014

After having broken their home duck in the previous home game against Aberdeen, Thistle made it back to back home wins with a deserved success against Hibs in a game played in tricky conditions.
Alan Archibald made just the one change to the side that had drawn at Ross County a fortnight earlier. Suspension denied him the opportunity to select Stuart Bannigan and that provided Kris Doolan with the chance to start a game for the first time in 2014. Doolan’s return to the starting eleven allowed Jordan McMillan to take up a place on the bench.
Thistle made a bright opening to the game and won a free kick at the corner of the Hibs box following a foul on Lyle Taylor after just 15 seconds. Kallum Higginbotham was able to get the free kick round the Hibs wall but there was no real pace on his shot and Williams was able to make a comfortable save. It was, however, an encouraging start from Thistle.
It was Hibs though that probably had the better of the opening quarter of the game albeit Paul Gallacher in the Thistle goal was never seriously tested. One Paul Cairney cross caused problems for the Thistle rear guard before the ball was cleared, Stephen O’Donnell had to be across quickly to snuff out any danger when Cummings attempted to pick out Collins to his right and Lee Mair had to block a McGivern cross after the Hibs player had been given far too much room on the left hand side.
The longer the half went on though the more Thistle began to assert themselves and they were close to taking the lead in the 30th minute when Kallum Higginbotham saw his effort from the edge of the box expertly tipped over the bar by Ben Williams.
From the corner that followed both Conrad Balatoni and Gary Fraser saw shots blocked as Hibs struggled to clear their lines.
Thistle were close again to taking the lead in the 35th minute. Higginbotham was able to get the ball through to Chris Erskine who attempted to side foot the ball beyond the reach of Williams but the Hibs keeper, however, was able to save.
Erskine though did open the scoring with half-time just two minutes away. Lyle Taylor got space down the right, his cut back was expertly dummied by Kris Doolan and after Erskine had taken a touch to steady himself he fired a shot high past Williams and into the net to give Thistle a narrow interval lead.
Hibs were the first to threaten at the start of the second half with Paul Gallacher getting down low at his left hand post to turn a Cummings shot round for a corner.
Despite that rare effort on the Thistle goal it was the home side that looked the much more dangerous and in the 55th minute they came close to extending their lead with a sharp, incisive counter attack. Prince Buaben gave the ball to Kallum Higginbotham to his left and Williams did well to push Higginbotham’s effort away with Chris Erskine unable to force the loose ball home.
A second Thistle goal though was just a few minutes away. After Lyle Taylor had been fouled close to the touchline, Kallum Higginbotham sent over a free kick in the 59th minute which picked out Lee Mair at the back post and the central defender was able to nod home his first goal as a Partick Thistle player.
Thistle were able to enjoy the comfort of a two goal lead for just three minutes; Duncan Watmore’s shot finding the corner of the Thistle net to put Hibs right back into the game.
Pushing men forward at every opportunity Hibs did have the Thistle defence under pressure at times but the home team looked a real threat on the break and Lyle Taylor, at full stretch, was just unable to connect with a driven Higginbotham cross when all it needed was the merest of touches to produce a third, and potentially decisive, Thistle goal.
With the game deep into the final 10 minutes Thistle hearts were in mouths when Stephen O’Donnell diverted a Heffernan cross back towards his own goal and had it not been for an excellent stop from Paul Gallacher Hibs would have found themselves back on level terms.
O’Donnell was quickly involved at the other end of the pitch with Williams whipping the ball off his toes as he burst into the Hibs box.
With the stiff breeze making things a little tricky anxiety levels among the Thistle support grew as Hibs forced four corners in quick succession as the game neared the 90 minute mark. Thistle eventually cleared the danger and in injury time they made the points safe.
Hibs were left exposed at the back as they searched for an equaliser and as Thistle broke Christie Elliott sent a crossfield pass to the impressive Kallum Higginbotham. Higginbotham was left with a clear run on goal, albeit with plenty of work still to do, and he was able to cap his Man of the Match display with the goal that it richly deserved when he tucked the ball into the back of the Hibs net for his 6th goal of the season.

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