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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Livingston – 24th November 2012

If the mark of potential champions is their ability to bounce back from a disappointing result then there is good reason for optimism inside Firhill. After losing to Morton earlier in the season Thistle promptly won four of their next five games. Yesterday they recovered from losing at Hamilton to defeat an in-form Livingston side.
The Thistle manager made a couple of changes to the side that had lost that game at Hamilton. Hugh Murray, who captained the side, and Stuart Bannigan came in to replace the suspended Paul Paton and Club captain Alan Archibald, who dropped to the bench. There were a couple of surprise inclusions among the five subs; appearing as a trialist was experienced goalkeeper Ludovic Roy and under 19 player Jonathon Black, who would make his first team debut before the conclusion of the game.
A Livingston side unbeaten in their previous six league games were expected to provide the sternest test yet to Thistle’s 100% home record and they did make it uncomfortable at times for Thistle, especially in the first 30 minutes or so, without creating much in the way of clear cut openings.
In the first ten minutes both Liam Fox and Stefan Scougall saw efforts from outside the box go wide or target before, in the 12th minute, Graeme Smith was called into serious action for the first time when he was required to touch an Andreu effort round the post for a corner.
Meantime it took Thistle a little time to get into their stride, and it was the 33rd minute before they truly threatened the Livingston goal. Chris Erskine burst into life and his run took him to the edge of the Livingston box where his shot was just a little on the high side.
Erskine was involved again minutes later, sending over a cross from the left that went agonisingly over the heads of the waiting Thistle players in the box.
These were encouraging signs from Thistle and as they continued to exert a grip on the game Stuart Bannigan was unlucky not to open the scoring with a curling effort that went wide of McNeil’s left hand post.
With half-time approaching there was a reminder of the potential threat that the visitors carried and Smith had to produce a smart save low to his left to keep out a well struck effort from McNulty.
The half-time score, however, remained blank but Thistle would change that inside ten second half minutes.
Thistle had already come close in the 50th minute when Chris Erskine’s neat pass set up Kris Doolan who saw his first time shot saved at the expense of a corner by McNeil.
Four minutes later Thistle would have the lead. Ross Forbes’ free kick just in from the left hand touchline was met by the head of Aaron Sinclair and his header found the back of the net.
Now a goal up Thistle immediately pressed to press home their advantage and, in the kind of swift counter attack that has left many a side floundering, Chris Erskine did well to keep the ball in before sending over a cross that Steven Lawless couldn’t quite direct on target with his head.
In the 62nd minute a confident looking Graeme Smith was well positioned to save a shot from distance from Andreu, but the game’s next incident of note came at the other end and gave Thistle the cushion of a two goal lead.
Sixty-three minutes were on the clock when Stuart Bannigan collected the ball at the edge of the Livingston penalty area and with his right foot lifted the ball over McNeil and into the back of the net.
It was nearly 3-0 just minutes later when a Livingston defender very nearly turned a Chris Erskine cross into his own net.
Conrad Balatoni nearly scored for the second home game in a row when he met a Ross Forbes corner only to see his bullet header go wide of goal.
A third goal would have sealed the Thistle win but even at 2-0 up Thistle couldn’t truly relax with Livingston still a threat. Graeme Smith had to look lively to whip the ball off the toes of an advancing Craig Barr as the game moved into the final ten minutes and Marc McNulty had a chance inside the Thistle box but he sent his shot high over Smith’s crossbar.
This though was a deserved win for Thistle against a Livingston side that look certain to win far more games than they will lose this season.

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