Saturday 23rd March, 2013 at 9:34pm
Thistle celebrated Alan Archibald’s permanent appointment as Jags boss in fine style with a clinical display against Livingston; the side sitting third in the league table.
Archibald made two changes to the side that had defeated Hamilton 2-0. Suspension plus Scotland under 21 duties ruled out Stuart Bannigan but on the plus side captain Paul Paton was able to return after a period on the sidelines through injury. The other change saw James Craigen get the nod over Ross Forbes who dropped to the bench.
Thistle were in a positive mood right from the start with Chris Erskine in particular causing the visiting defence no end of problems, and he was heavily involved in the move that so nearly gave Thistle a 5th minute lead. Erskine pushed the ball out wide to Aaron Sinclair and his cross from the left was met by Steven Craig who saw his first time shot brilliantly stopped by Andy McNeil.
Despite the pitch understandably cutting up both teams were playing some good passing football and in the 19th minute we had the game’s first goal. Steven Lawless’ shot struck the arm of Paul Watson and referee Salmond pointed to the spot. Aaron Muirhead has a 100% record from the penalty spot this season and he made no mistake with this one either, slamming the ball low into the net.
Just three minutes later Thistle had a second goal and were well on the way to three points. Sean Welsh was able to pick out Steven Craig with time and space in front of the Livingston goal and Craig steered his header into the corner of the net for his 14th goal of the season.
Although 2-0 down Livingston were still in the game at this point, though Scott Fox was rarely pressed into any serious action. The third Thistle goal, however, in the 36th minute all but secured the victory.
Livingston were caught on the break and when James Craigen’s shot deceived McNeil Thistle had a three goal lead and James Craigen had his first goal for the Club.
Seven minutes later and a rampant Thistle side claimed a fourth goal. Steven Craig did well to prevent himself from being flagged for offside as Chris Erskine moved in on goal. Erskine was able to set up Steven Lawless who calmly knocked the ball home.
After not conceded a goal in any of their previous five games there was disappointment when Livingston pulled a goal back just two minutes after the restart. A free kick from the right was headed back towards goal where Paul Watson had the space to pick his spot behind Scott Fox.
A second Livingston goal early in the second half and things might have become a little interesting, and they did have an opportunity to score again. Marc McNulty though was denied by an excellent Scott Fox save.
Thistle though would bounce back in fine style from their sluggish start to the second half and in the 57th minute they were once again four goals in front. James Craigen started the move wide on the right hand side but it was a delightful interchange of passes between Chris Erskine and Kris Doolan that once again opened up the Livingston defence. Chris Erskine was duly left with just McNeil to beat and he tucked the ball past him and into the net.
Livingston were still showing spirit and sub Danny Mullen wasn’t too far away from scoring with a shot that clipped the outside of Scott Fox’s right hand post.
Thistle, however, were still in the mood for more goals. An Aaron Sinclair cross from the left found no one on hand to divert the ball into the net for the goal that cross deserved and a Steven Lawless shot from the edge of the box skimmed the Livingston crossbar.
A sixth Thistle goal though was not too far away and it arrived in the 70th minute, and it was another cracker. Aaron Sinclair’s cross was controlled on his chest by Kris Doolan. Doolan then turned before burying the ball into the back of the net.
It was understandable that with a five goal cushion and a tough schedule of fixtures ahead that Thistle took the foot of the gas in the time remaining; electing to simply maintain possession of the ball and conserve energy for more arduous tasks ahead. For 70 or so minutes though this was as clinical and as an impressive display as Thistle have produced all season.