Wednesday 13th December, 2017 at 10:54am
Coming off the back of one of their heaviest defeats since promotion against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park, Partick Thistle looked to bounce back with a result as Motherwell visited the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. The Jags were without a win since late October and faced the challenge of tops six side Motherwell who comfortably beat them 3-0 at Fir Park earlier in the season.
The side underwent numerous changes although the defensive personnel stayed much the same. Tomas Cerny was in goals behind a back five of Paul McGinn, Niall Keown, Daniel Devine, Jordan Turnbull and Blair Spittal as Alan Archibald reverted to the five-at-the-back system. Thistle started with three in midfield; something that they haven’t had the chance to do much this year. Martin Woods made his first Partick Thistle start alongside Adam Barton and Ryan Edwards. The Jags attack was completely changed from the previous game as Miles Storey and Conor Sammon started together.
Thistle started well, looking dangerous in the wide areas although they were struggling to find that killer pass early on. However, their positive play was rewarded in the 16th minute when they took the lead. Conor Sammon was brought down right at the corner of the box on the Colin Weir Stand side of the park and that gave Blair Spittal a chance to try one of his trademark set pieces. Spittal curled a right-footed effort on goal, finding the net and putting the hosts one up.
Thistle didn’t hold up after the goal though as they doubled the deficit on 22 minutes. Daniel Devine just about managed to find Miles Storey with a ball out wide and the number 39 moved forward with the ball. He spotted the marauding run of Ryan Edwards who he proceeded to play through, in behind Carl McHugh. Edwards then got his foot around the ball, shooting first time and beating Griffiths to make it 2-0 to the home side.
Then just five minutes after the second, Thistle had a third. Miles Storey ragdolled Motherwell captain, Carl McHugh on the Jags’ left before squaring the ball with the outside of his foot. Allan Campbell looked to intercept but Conor Sammon nicked the ball from the youngster’s toes. He then had two options; shoot or square the ball to Ryan Edwards for a tap-in. Looking for his first Thistle goal, Sammon shot, finding the bottom corner and reeling off to celebrate as he broke his red and yellow duck and sent the Jags support into a mix of jubilation and surprise with the Jags enjoying a three-goal lead for the first time in the league since the 23rd of December last year during a game at Dingwall which kickstarted the club’s season.
The visitors’ first big opportunity of the game came eight minutes before the break through defender, Charles Dunne. It was Elliott Frear’s cross which found Dunne but when the centre-half tried to head it goalward, be caught too much of the ball and nodded it wide of the target.
The ‘Well had a couple of other half chances before the interval through Frear and Andy Rose however they didn’t make anything of them and the game reached half time at 3-0.
Stephen Robinson’s Steelemen made two changes at half time and as a result were much improved in the second half. So much so that they thought they had found a route back into the game on 54 minutes. One of the ‘Well substitutes Craig Tanner curled a free kick in from the visitors’ right. It found the head of Cedric Kipre who headed back across goal. His attempt looked to be heading in but Charles Dunne made a lunge for it and seems to get a slight touch on it. At first the goal was given but the referee deliberated with his official amongst a storm of furious Thistle players and chalked the goal off for offside against Dunne.
The denial of that goal didn’t deter the Steelmen though as they would pull one back a minute later. Elliott Frear’s corner floated into the box and Ryan Bowman peeled away from Adam Barton heading on goal. Tomas Cerny did his best to keep it out but didn’t get enough behind the ball to stop it finding the net.
The Jags were then faced with further problems when Martin Woods was forced off with some bad cramp due to a lack of match fitness. The ex-Barnsley man, who had been so good in the first 45 minutes, was replaced by Gary Fraser.
From this point on, Motherwell were the side applying all the pressure; pushing for another goal to set up a dramatic finish. The away side would eventually get that goal in the 78th minute. Craig Tanner received the ball 25 yards from goal before evading challenges from Ryan Edwards, Adam Barton and Daniel Devine. He then rifled a shot on goal, beating Tomas Cerny at the near post. Sudden to the pressure was amped up as the Steelmen moved to within one goal of a sensational second half comeback.
Miles Storey saw a curled effort go just over the bar in the 82nd minute before the Jags made their final two changes. Steven Lawless and Kris Doolan coming on for Blair Spittal and Miles Storey.
There would be two chances left in the game for Motherwell to level the score. Firstly, Richard Tait’s whipped cross found the run of Elliott Frear at the back post. The number 11 headed in goal but his effort bounced up straight into Tomas Cerny’s arms as the Czech ‘stopper grasped the ball gratefully.
Charles Dunne also has a headed opportunity as he got in the end of a free kick from deep. His headed attempt looped well over the bar though as the visitors saw their final chance go begging.
With that being the final chance of the game, the game ended 3-2 as the Jags survived the second half comeback scare. A first win since October for Thistle saw them move to within one point of 11th place.
Alan Archibald’s side now travel to Dundee on Saturday knowing that a win will move them above the Dark Blues and off the foot of the Ladbrokes Premiership table. Kick-off is 15:00 from Dens Park.
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