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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Inverness CT – 7th February 2015

It was a break from league duty for the Jags as Inverness Caledonian Thistle were the visitors to Firhill for our William Hill Scottish Cup tie on Saturday afternoon. Having been comprehensively beaten in the two previous league meetings between the sides, hopes were high among the home support that it could be a hat-trick of victories against the Highlanders. With both sides only a couple of wins away from a visit to Hampden Park there was much to play for, both on the pitch and financially off the pitch as well.

Thistle manager, Alan Archibald, made three changes to the starting line-up which had been defeated by St Mirren. Dan Seaborne, Gary Fraser and Christie Elliott all returned to the side while Ryan Stevenson started as the main focus of the attack with Kris Doolan and recent loan signing, Lyle Taylor, returning to the club alongside Dools on the bench. Nine out of the starting eleven were part of the victorious 4-0 winners up at Inverness in December so there was a ripple of optimism around the ground as the game kicked off.

Inverness started the game stronger but the home side forced the game’s first corner after good link up play between O’Donnell and Lawless. The visitors showed their intentions in the early stages with Watkins caught offside on a couple of occasions and Williams firing well wide from 25 yards.

The visitors had the first real chance of the day, and what a glorious chance it was. Watkins only had Gallacher to beat having been layed clean through but the keeper made himself big and kept the ball out of the net. It was an early warning to the Jags defence and one that should perhaps have been heeded more strongly.

In the 16th minute a loose ball saw Draper find Ross and his through pass sent Watkins away as he easily outpaced Frans before letting rip with his left foot beating Gallacher to make it 1-0. Draper saw his shot from from 16 yards saved minutes later before Watkins again went one on one against Gallacher after a terrific pass from Ross. The move was a carbon copy of that which led to the first goal but, luckily for the home side, this time the ball whistled past the post – just inches wide.

Thistle were poor in possession and long balls to Stevenson found him isolated with no support from midfield. The lack of care in possession proved decisive for the home side and the visitors made it 2-0 after 27minutes. O’Donnell lost the ball in midfield and Tansey collected the ball, dancing through the Thistle defence before firing a right foot effort past Gallacher from 16 yards.

The home side tried to hit back and Fraser fired well over after a corner on the half hour mark but the breakthrough would not come. There was a flurry of chances as half time approached, Gallacher doing well to save at the feet of Draper. Higginbotham also saw a shot blocked by the heels of Stevenson after a Seaborne header was off target. As half time came it was the visitors who deservedly led two goals to nil and the home side were thankful it was only the two.

Craigen and Taylor replaced Fraser and Higginbotham at half time as the Jags looked to get back in the game. The home side started a little better in the second half and enjoyed a spell in the Caley half, but the visitors did see a Vincent shot deflected by Seaborne. Bannigan then saw a right footed effort saved after Stevenson won a long throw from O’Donnell.

Returning striker, Taylor, couldn’t quite squeeze his effort past Esson from a tight angle but the Jags looked like a different side second half.

Thistle did manage to pull one back after 67 minutes. A great run by O’Donnell which went from his own box, saw him into the opposition half. His lofted ball behind the defence saw Taylor hold Meekings off and blast home to make it 2-1 and throw the home side a lifeline. The goal seemed to inspire the crowd as well as the team and Seaborne perhaps should have hit the target 10 yards out with a header from a corner.

Elliott saw a curling shot easily saved by Esson as the home side huffed and puffed looking for an equaliser. There was at least one moment of controversy when, after a cross ball and with the Jags on top, Taylor collected the ball on the far side of the 18 yard box only to hear referee, Willie Collum, blow for a head knock despite the player already being back on his feet. Strangely no Jags player contested the resulting bounce ball. Frans saw an effort saved at the second attempt before Seaborne brought out a wonderful stop from Inverness keeper, Esson, after a Stevenson free kick.

Gallacher did well to save from Christie as he got in behind the home defence before the referee brought both the match and Thistle’s Scottish Cup run to an end.

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