Sunday 20th May, 2018 at 5:20pm
Partick Thistle returned to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill this afternoon for their final game of the 2017/18 season. The game represented the club’s biggest of the current campaign as a defeat or draw would send the Jags tumbling down into the Ladbrokes Championship. A win for the Jags would keep the tie alive with a win by two or more goals keeping Thistle up.
Four changes were made to the side who fell to a 2-1 defeat in Lothian on Thursday as the Jags reverted to their very familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Tomas Cerny retained his spot between the sticks behind a changed rear-guard. Christie Elliott came in for Callum Booth at left-back with Paul McGinn still at right-back. Adam Barton moved from central midfield to centre-half alongside Baily Cargill with Daniel Devine dropping to the bench. In the midfield, Martin Woods remained in a deep-lying role beside the returning Andrew McCarthy who replaced Ryan Edwards. Steven Lawless and Kris Doolan both stayed in the team as part of the attack with Blair Spittal and Chris Erskine coming back into the starting line-up to try to create a formidable front-line.
The game began fairly frantically, as it did in the first leg three days prior, but Thistle were able to carve out the matches opening chance on 12 minutes. Steven Lawless shifted quickly and got to the by-line before lifting a cross into the Livi area. He found Chris Erskine who made a late run to attack the ball but the number ten couldn’t make contact with his head and the ball deflected wide off his shoulder.
The hosts would go on to spend the rest of the first half controlling the game without penetrating the solid Livingston defence until first half stoppage time when Blair Spittal went close from just outside the box. It was Andrew McCarthy’s good work that spawned the attack as he turned away from three Livi markers to pass to Spittal. The ex-Queen’s Park wide-man then took the ball forward towards the away side’s 18-yard box. He had the option of Chris Erskine to his left but opted to shoot instead, however, his low drive was turned past the post excellently by Neil Alexander.
That shot would prove to be the final meaningful attack of the half as the break arrived with the game goalless. The first half brought forward a familiar situation for the Jags as they went into the interval without the lead despite dominating proceedings. The hosts use of the wide areas was great but the final ball was still lacking and Livi still looked dangerous on the counter and from set plays.
Unfortunately for Thistle, those set plays would bear fruit for the travelling Lions in the opening 30 seconds of the second period. A throw-in from the Livi left caused problems in the Thistle box. Christie Elliott headed a half-clearance but it came to Byrne. The Livingston number six then laid the ball off to Keaghan Jacobs who fired past Tomas Cerny as he had in the previous two Livi-Thistle meetings this season. The goal was a sucker punch for the hosts as they now needed two goals to even take the tie to extra time.
Alan Archibald then moved quickly to try to give his side more of a presence in the Livingston box by bringing on Conor Sammon for Andrew McCarthy in the 54th minute. Then after a further 15 minutes of lacking creativity, Martin Woods was brought off to be replaced by Ryan Edwards and the final throw of the dice came as Callum Booth came on for the injured Chris Erskine with 15 minutes to play.
There were a small selection of half chances for the Jags with Steven Lawless, Christie Elliott and Blair Spittal all forcing simple saves out of Neil Alexander, however, there was a glimmer of hope for the home team when they were awarded a penalty in the 90th minute after a Livingston player blocked a shot with his arm. Conor Sammon stepped up to take the spot kick having scored three already this season but he saw his penalty saved by Neil Alexander with any faint hopes of survival vanishing in that moment.
After four added minutes, John Beaton blew for full time, condemning Partick Thistle to relegation and Championship football next season. A 3-1 defeat on aggregate over two legs was deserved for Livingston who are now promoted, at the Jags’ expense, to the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Thistle now look towards the 2018/19 season as they try to push for an immediate top flight return. Updates on the new season will be found at ptfc.co.uk throughout the summer.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, McGinn, Barton, Cargill, Elliott, McCarthy (Sammon, 54’), Woods (Edwards, 69’), Spittal, Erskine (Booth, 75’), Lawless, Doolan.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Devine, Penrice, Storey.
LIVINGSTON TEAM: Alexander, Longridge, Halkett, Lithgow, Gallagher, Jacobs, Byrne, Pittman, Robinson (Buchanan, 78’), Thompson (Cadden, 58’), Miller (McMillan, 66’).
UNUSED SUBS (LVS): Maley, Mullin, Frizzell.
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