Saturday 10th November, 2018 at 7:30pm
Partick Thistle returned to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill following last weekend’s 5-1 defeat to Morton looking to end their run of six straight losses with a result against Inverness Caley Thistle. The Jags welcomed Inverness with the Highlanders having drawn all of their last seven games having last won a game when the Maryhill men travelled north in September.
Gary Caldwell made just one change to the side that were beaten at Cappielow last week with that alteration facilitating a change in formation. Cammy Bell retained his place in goals behind an unchanged defence featuring Christie Elliott, Niall Keown, Sean McGinty and James Penrice. It was a flat four in midfield too with Blair Spittal, Stuart Bannigan, Craig Slater and Miles Storey forming a second bank of four across the middle of the park. Up front was the new partnership of Jai Quitongo and the fit again, Kris Doolan who returned to the starting line-up in place of Brice Ntambwe.
To begin with, the game was very open and the home side really should have taken the lead on ten minutes. The chance came from Kris Doolan’s first touch which knocked a long ball perfectly into Jai Quitongo’s path. The number 33 charged into the penalty area and had a clear shot on goal. He tried to find the space at the near post but Mark Ridgers was alert enough to get down and save the attempt.
The Jags created another great opportunity after 24 minutes when Kris Doolan had his first sight of goal. The attack was started by Stuart Bannigan’s excellent tackle in the midfield with the loose ball falling to Blair Spittal. The number seven then put his head down and sprinted forward, getting past four challenges in the process before passing to Kris Doolan. The Thistle marksman took a touch before striking on the spin but his effort bent just past the post.
Inverness created their first real chance of the game just ahead of the hour mark as Tom Walsh forced Cammy Bell into a save. The ball bounced in front of the Caley number 11 around 20 yards out and Walsh decided to take a snap shot, aiming for the far corner of the goal. His shot was on target and moved slightly as it travelled towards goal but Jags ‘keeper, Bell got down quickly to parry.
Kris Doolan had another opportunity to give his side the advantage after 36 minutes when the hosts kept the ball alive following a cleared corner. Craig Slater’s initial set piece came back to the number 17 and his subsequent cross fell to Kris Doolan. The number nine once again took one touch and fired goalwards but it was the same result as the ball flew past the post.
At the start of the second half, Caley frontman, George Oakley had two great opportunities to give the travelling Highlanders the lead with the first opening presenting itself on 50 minutes. Tom Walsh’s in-swinging corner found the head of the number 14 at the front post and with just a little touch needed, Oakley put far too much on it and nodded it over the bar from a matter of yards.
The second opportunity, which fell to the same man, came after 62 minutes. This time, after a well-worked short corner, the ball was delivered to the back post where Oakley was waiting but once again the forward failed to find the target from close range. Shortly thereafter, Aidan Fitzpatrick was brought on in place of Miles Storey.
Despite missing those two big chances, Caley Thistle were still able to take the lead with 19 minutes left to play. Tom Walsh picked the ball up around 20 yards from goal and quickly shifted the ball onto his right foot. The ex-Dumbarton man then unleashed a curling effort which Cammy Bell got a hand to but was unable to keep out as Caley took the advantage.
Thistle were gifted an immediate chance to get back level as Steven Kirkland awarded a penalty in their favour three minutes after the opener. A high ball into the box was headed on by Kris Doolan by it struck the arm of a Caley man and although it was at close range, the referee pointed to the spot. Blair Spittal was the man who stepped up but unfortunately for the hosts, his spot kick was saved well by Mark Ridgers down to the ex-Jag’s left-hand side.
There would be one last chance for Thistle with substitute Aidan Fitzpatrick getting the chance to equalise. It was Kris Doolan’s good work that forged the chance with a quick pass splitting Brad McKay and Coll Donaldson. Fitzpatrick was then able to skip forward and get a shot away but on his weaker left side, he dragged the attempt wide of the far post as Thistle passed up on another big opportunity.
That would be it as far as chances went for the Maryhill men as Steven Kirkland blew for full-time with the score at 1-0. It represented a seventh straight defeat for Thistle in a game they should never have lost considering the chances they created. Nevertheless, the defeat leaves the Jags in ninth place ahead of a massive clash with bottom side Falkirk next Saturday which kicks off at 15:00 from the Falkirk Stadium.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, Keown, McGinty, Penrice, Bannigan, Slater, Spittal, Storey (Fitzpatrick, 65’), Doolan, Quitongo.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Scobbie, Ntambwe, McCarthy, Wilson, Storer.
INVERNESS CT TEAM: Ridgers, McKay, McCart, Donaldson, Chalmers, Trafford, Welsh, Doran, Polworth, Walsh, Oakley (White, 67’).
UNUSED SUBS (ICT): Hoban, Austin, McGregor, Harper.
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