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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Motherwell – 24th September 2016

Partick Thistle sat bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership coming into their sixth game of the campaign and faced Motherwell as they looked for their first win since the opening game of the season. The visitors were coming off the back of a 4-2 victory over Hamilton with ‘Well top scorer Louis Moult grabbing four goals.

There were three changes to the Thistle team that drew with Kilmarnock last week. Callum Booth was unable to play due to illness, Abdul Osman was suspended after being sent off late at Rugby Park and Kris Doolan dropped to the bench as Ade Azeez was given a starting spot. With Osman absent, it was Danny Devine who led the team as captain. David Amoo made his 50th competitive appearance in the red and yellow of Partick Thistle today aswell.

The away side kicked-off the game but there was only one team in it in the opening stages. The Jags were the ones dictating play early on and the home team almost had the chance to go ahead within five minutes when Alan Archibald’s men found themselves with a three-on-two attack. Chris Erskine attempted to play in Ade Azeez but the pass was short and the danger was cleared.

Thistle continued to dominate the game as Motherwell struggled to produce any meaningful passing play. Much of that was down to Ade Azeez. The Englishman’s closing down was excellent and he was giving the visiting defenders no time to get the ball down and play from the back. His workrate almost got him a goal when ‘Well keeper Craig Samson spent slightly too long with the ball at his feet and Azeez slid in to try to block any clearance. He was inches away but Samson was able to punt the ball out for a throw-in.

Despite Thistle’s dominance, there weren’t many chances to be had. Steven Lawless almost created an opportunity all by himself 12 minutes in when he made a mazy run into the box, dodging through several challenges in the process. Unfortunately, as he to navigate past the last defender he took a heavy touch and the ball went out of play.

The Steelmen had their first chance of the game in the 28th minute as Ryan Bowman found space in behind the Jags’ defenders. The forward tried to lift the ball over Ryan Scully but the Thistle ‘keeper stood tall and made the save.

Just as Motherwell were beginning to come into the game, their progress was halted by a Thistle goal 32 minutes in. The visitors created their own problems here as a wayward back pass by Steven Hammell went between his nearest centre-half and the goalkeeper. Chris Erskine was first to the loose ball and without taking a touch, he slotted the ball home under the ‘keeper to give Thistle the lead.

Half-time came with the score at 1-0. Thistle’s lead was a deserved one with Alan Archibald’s side dominating possession. Chris Erskine was a standout performer as he so often is and Ade Azeez, with his aforementioned pressing, was playing well. Ryan Edwards had been an asset in the midfield, showing extraordinary energy in the centre of the park.

It was a rapid opening to the second half by Thistle with red and yellow jerseys streaming forward right from kick-off. In the 51st minute it should have been made 2-0. Chris Erskine slotted through Ade Azeez who had a free run on goal but his shot went wide of the far post.

David Amoo found managed to manufacture an opening for himself 54 minutes in. The winger skipped through two challenges and found himself just inside the box. He hit a low shot towards the front post which was easily stopped by Samson.

There was another decent chance for Jags frontman Ade Azeez just after the hour mark. Adam Barton ran 40 yards from inside the defensive half to the attacking third where he played in Azeez but the angle was a difficult one and the striker’s left-footed attempt went wide of Samson’s left-hand post.

One of the game’s most controversial incidents presented itself in the 63rd minute. A deep Motherwell free-kick towards the back post was headed back across goal by a ‘Well player and Scott McDonald guided a headed effort into the net. The goal was, however, chalked off for offside.

Just two minutes later, another controversial moment occurred. Ade Azeez was played in for a third time in the second half, this time by Lawless, and as he was approaching the goal a challenge came in from Motherwell defender Ben Heneghan. The centre-half clattered into the onrushing attacker and if Azeez had gone down then you would have expected a penalty to be awarded but he did his best to stay on his feet and in the end he couldn’t get a shot away.

Stand-in Captain Danny Devine had a golden opportunity with 23 minutes to go. A Chris Erskine free kick wasn’t dealt with as he whipped the ball into the box and it found Devine. The centre-back got his foot on the cross from six-yards out but his attempt was straight at the opposition ‘keeper. Not long after this, Chris Erskine was withdrawn from the match after feeling a bit of an injury and was replaced by Sean Welsh who sat in central-midfield with Edwards taking up Erskine’s number 10 role.

It would be Ryan Edwards who came close next as he hit a ferocious shot from 30 yards out. Craig Samson was scrambling across his goal as the shot seemed destined to find the top corner but it crashed off the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick. David Amoo also came close when he found himself with a chance ten yards out but his curled effort only found the hands of Samson.

Just one minute later, the home side would be made to pay for their missed chances. Richard Tait was in possession on Motherwell’s right-flank when he hit a cross into the box. Experienced striker Scott McDonald was able pull away from his marker and get on the end of the cross. He directed an excellent header into the back of the net leaving Scully with no chance.

As the game entered the final two minutes of the 90, Kris Doolan was brought on for Steven Lawless as Alan Archibald looked to reenergise the attack. Despite that, the best late chance fell to the Steelmen. Firstly, Ryan Bowman got on the end of a cross into the box. He headed downwards and Ryan Scully had to be sharp to make a good save after the ball bounced up off the turf. Also, Chris Cadden had a shot stopped by Scully as the Motherwell man shot low towards the bottom corner but the Jags’ goalie got low brilliantly to turn the ball away.

In the end the Thistle men will feel like they’ve dropped two points rather than gaining one after an exquisite first half display and a plethora of second half opportunities. It was a familiar feeling as the team’s performance deserved more out of the game than they got. Despite missing a few good chances Ade Azeez was an integral part of the Thistle team. Chris Erskine and Ryan Edwards both had impressive games in the midfield. Adam Barton’s Thistle debut was a good one as he showed great composure and calmness throughout the match. The point takes Thistle off the bottom of the table, at least until tomorrow when bottom side Hamilton take on St. Johnstone.

Alan Archibald must now start planning for next Saturday’s trip to Ibrox in Thistle’s first encounter with Rangers since 2008.

THISTLE TEAM: Scully, Gordon, Devine, Lindsay, Elliott, Barton, Edwards, Amoo, Erskine (Welsh, 69), Lawless (Doolan, 89), Azeez

THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Stuckmann, Syme, Penrice, Wilson, McDaid

MOTHERWELL TEAM: Samson, Tait, Heneghan, McManus, Hammell, Lasley (Ainsworth, 79), Cadden Clay, Moult (McFadden, 71), McDonald, Bowman

MOTHERWELL SUBS (N/U): Brill, Lucas, Ferguson, Campbell, Macklin

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