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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Montrose – 23rd July 2022

Montrose were the visitors to Firhill as Partick Thistle ended their Premier Sports Cup group stage campaign knowing a win over the Gable Endies would book their spot in the last 16 of the competition.

The Jags came into the game following a 2-0 win over Fraserburgh in their first competitive home game of the new season while Stewart Petrie’s side were looking to return to winning ways following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Kilmarnock and Stenhousemuir.

Ian McCall made four changes to the team which started against the Broch in midweek with David Mitchell returning in goals behind a back four of Jack McMillan, Harry Milne, Kevin Holt and Darren Brownlie who was making his first competitive start since May of last year. Stuart Bannigan was back in midfield alongside captain Ross Docherty and Tuesday’s Man of the Match Cole McKinnon while Brian Graham and Cammy Smith retained their places in the frontline alongside Aidan Fitzpatrick. The club’s latest signing Danny Mullen took a place on the bench two days after joining on a one-year deal.

With Montrose already out of the cup, the pressure was on the home side to go and win the game and that told in the early pattern of play. The Jags dominated much of the ball and looked the more likely scorers in the opening stages. The first real chance of the game fell to Brian Graham after five minutes when an Aidan Fitzpatrick free-kick from the left wing found the striker at the near post area and he tried to redirect it past Aaron Lennox at the near post. The number nine’s shot found the target but was turned round the post by the Australian goalkeeper.

Nevertheless, the breakthrough came before too long as Thistle hit the front in the 17th minute. It came thanks to a teasing ball down the right channel by Cole McKinnon which had Andrew Steeves scrambling as he faced his own goal. The defender couldn’t force the ball away fully allowing Jack McMillan to capitalise by slotting home a left-footed shot in off the far post – his first across his two spells as a Jag.

After the opener, the game became a much more even encounter with Montrose maintaining possession more consistently without creating a great deal. Thistle still posed a threat though and Jack McMillan went close on 35 minutes as a bending right-footed shot flew low past the goalkeeper’s left-hand post.

Then, just as the game seemed to be trickling quietly towards half-time, Kevin Holt produced a moment of magic. Sean Dillon gave away a free-kick five yards outside the Montrose box seconds before the interval with Ross Docherty and Kevin Holt standing over the set piece for the hosts. It was the latter who took on the shot and bent a powerful effort around the wall and into the near corner, leaving Aaron Lennox wrong-footed and helpless.

With that second goal, Thistle’s last 16 prospects were looking pretty good, however, ten minutes into the second half Montrose got themselves right back into the game. A slack pass from Stuart Bannigan saw the away side break swiftly as the ball was worked over to Craig Brown on the right-hand side of the attack. The former Stirling University player cut onto his left-foot and curled a stunning shot into the top corner to half the deficit.

Just as things could have become very nervy for the home side, they were able to gather themselves and restore the two-goal lead on 65 minutes. The move all started with Steven Lawless winning a 50/50 on the half-way line which allowed Cole McKinnon to feed a ball into Anton Dowds’ feet. The striker then laid the ball off to Lawless who knocked the ball between the arm and torso of Andrew Steeves to move into space. He then picked out Aidan Fitzpatrick with a ball across the edge of the box and the number 21 sharply darted past two defenders before firing a low shot back across goal to pick out the bottom corner and score his first goal since returning to Firhill this summer.

A third summer signing was amongst the goals in the 80th minute as substitute Danny Mullen bagged a debut goal to make it 4-1. It was his fellow substitute Tony Weston who teed him up as the Rangers loanee burst through from Kyle Turner’s pass and got a low ball into the six-yard box at the second attempt. Weston’s ball came to Mullen two yards from goal and the former St. Mirren man had the simple job of tapping it home to open his Thistle account.

In trying to prevent that goal, Aaron Lennox injured himself and with no replacement ‘keeper available and all substitution opportunities used Montrose were forced to go down to ten men and put defender Kerr Waddell in goals. Simultaneously Harry Milne went down in need of treatment and was taken off with Thistle having already made five changes meaning the game ended as a 10v10 contest.

Only one goal came in the closing stages and it came for the away side. A corner kick was headed goalward by Graham Webster with David Mitchell equal to it at the near post, however, the ball ricocheted off Mitchell’s gloves and off the heel of Kyle Turner, taking it into Craig Johnstone’s path who prodded it into the gaping net.

That was how the game finished with a 4-2 win in Maryhill enough to secure a spot in the last 16 of the Premier Sports Cup for Ian McCall’s side.

Next up for the Jags will be their cinch Championship opener against Dundee at Dens Park. That one is a 3pm kick-off on Saturday 30th July.

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