Friday 4th March, 2022 at 11:01pm
After climbing into fourth on Tuesday night with a draw against Arbroath, Partick Thistle had the chance to move up another place as Inverness visited Maryhill for some Friday night football.
The Jags came into the game without a win against Billy Dodds’ side in three attempts this season with the most recent meeting being a 3-3 draw at the Caledonian Stadium when the home side equalised in the 94th minute.
Ian McCall made four changes to the team which started against Arbroath in midweek with Tunji Akinola, Kyle Turner, Scott Tiffoney and Cammy Smith dropping out of the starting XI. Richard Foster and Juan Alegria were both given starts having come off the bench to good effect at half-time at Gayfield Park. Thistle’s other two substitutes from that game were also given places in the first XI as Robbie Crawford and Connor Murray took their place on either side of the Jags’ midfield.
The hosts had the better of the early goings and could have been in front in the 8th minute as Lewis Mayo went close to a second goal of the season. Connor Murray’s cross from the left flank skipped through to Kevin Holt in the Caley box and the 29-year-old laid it off for his central defensive partner. Mayo cleverly cut inside onto his left foot but fired his shot wide of the near post.
There was another big chance for the Maryhill men with 18 minutes on the clock as Juan Alegria came close to opening his Thistle account. A high ball over the Inverness defence by Richard Foster was controlled beautifully by the Colombian striker. He then tried to lift the ball over Cammy Mackay but could only find the roof of the net with his attempt.
Inverness had their first serious opportunity of the game in the 23rd minute as Austin Samuels found some space in the Thistle box. The number 24 played a one-two with Billy McKay which got him moving towards goal and after the ball deflected off Ciaran McKenna, the winger was able to unleash a shot. Fortunately for the home side his effort flashed narrowly wide of Jamie Sneddon’s goal and out for a goalkick.
That was only a brief moment of Inverness attacking though during a first half dominated by the Glaswegian Jags. With 10 minutes to go until half-time, Juan Alegria almost scored again with the woodwork denying him this time. A switch to the right wing from Ross Docherty was nodded down into the box by Ciaran McKenna and Alegria was on it like a flash ahead of Caley goalkeeper Mackay. He once again tried to lob the ‘stopper but saw his shot rebound off the post before being cleared.
The away side made a couple of changes at the break and came out for the second half looking reenergised so much so that they could have been level seven minutes after the restart. A Robbie Deas ball into the box wasn’t properly cleared allowing Aaron Doran to head it into the path of substitute Joe Hardy. The forward endeavoured to fire the ball low into the far corner of the goal but couldn’t beat Jamie Sneddon with his volleyed attempt.
Five minutes later Caley Thistle had another chance to go ahead as they caught their hosts on the counter-attack. A quickly taken Thistle free-kick was snuffed out by Inverness and a long ball into the Jags’ half got Joe Hardy moving again with Aaron Doran making a lung-bursting run forward to support him. After cutting past his man Hardy slotted a perfectly weighted pass through to Doran who looked to be clear through on goal, however, as he rocketed a shot towards goal Richard Foster got back and deflected it away for a corner kick.
As the second period rumbled on it was clear that neither side was settling for a draw in this one and there were half-chances for both sides as the minutes ticked on. Joe Hardy had another shot which bobbled just wide of Sneddon’s right post and Brian Graham had a somewhat mishit shot which made for a comfortable save in the end.
The openings then became a bit more dangerous as the game got towards the 80 minute mark. With just over 10 minutes to play Joe Hardy was involved again as he played the ball to Billy McKay who in turn fed it on to Shane Sutherland breaking infield from the left flank. Sutherland tried a first time shot but sent it well over the bar via a Thistle touch.
In the 82nd minute it was Ian McCall’s side threatening to break the deadlock as they worked the ball into the box from the right wing. It was an Alex Jakubiak cross which found Brian Graham and the Jags’ top scorer teed up Ross Docherty who after taking a touch could only fire a shot over the bar from 15 yards.
Just as it seemed the teams might have to settle for a point each, Kevin Holt popped up with a moment of magic to win for the Maryhill men. A Kyle Turner corner was fizzed into the box with Ross Docherty lined up to direct it towards goal, however, he missed his kick at the delivery. Thankfully for Thistle Kevin Holt was stationed behind Docherty and he made no mistake with his swing as he drove a low shot through Alex Jakubiak’s legs and into the back of the net.
It was a big goal in a big moment from Thistle’s number three and proved to be enough to win the game with Inverness unable to answer back in the remaining eight minutes including injury time. The victory moved the Jags above their opponents into the top three for the first time since matchday four.