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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Queen of the South – 22nd September 2018

Partick Thistle returned to Maryhill for their first home game in three weeks as they played hosts to fourth placed Queen of the South earlier today. The Jags sat in seventh place ahead of play this afternoon, two points behind the visitors in what remains a remarkably tight Ladbrokes Championship. The Doonhamers were looking to bounce back after firing their first blank of the new league season against Ross County in a goalless draw last weekend.

Alan Archibald made two changes to the side that lost 3-2 to Inverness last Saturday with Cammy Bell retaining his place in goals behind an unchanged rear-guard consisting of Christie Elliott, Niall Keown, Sean McGinty and James Penrice. Having played almost sixty minutes last Saturday, Stuart Bannigan replaced Brice Ntambwe making his first start since Thistle played Ross County in the Highlands last September. Craig Slater started alongside the number eight with Chris Erskine just ahead of the pair. Miles Storey moved to the left wing with Blair Spittal on the opposite flank while Kris Doolan led the line, replacing Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo in the line-up. Mutombo dropped to the bench and was joined there by Jamie Sneddon, Daniel Jefferies, Max Melbourne, Brice Ntambwe, Aidan Fitzpatrick and Jai Quitongo.

The hosts started on the front foot but were hit by a stiff sucker punch after four minutes as the visitors netted through their first notable attack of the game. Andrew Stirling received the ball on the Doonhamers’ left and cut inside past Christie Elliott before laying the ball off to Stephen Dobbie. The marksman then fired a low effort into the back of the net, beating Cammy Bell at his near post as he made it 21 goals for the season.

The game then fell into Thistle’s hands. The away side sat off the Maryhill men with the Jags dominating possession, however, they were struggling to pierce a resolute Queen of the South defence. Chris Erskine, Niall Keown and Blair Spittal all had half-chances in the proceeding minutes but it wasn’t until Kris Doolan got in on the action that the home side drew level. After 32 minutes, it was Sean McGinty stepping out of defence which set in motion the passage of play that ended with the equaliser. McGinty fed a terrific pass to Blair Spittal in the Doonhamers’ box and the number seven fired a low delivery across the face of goal. Waiting in the middle was Jags striker, Kris Doolan who simply tapped home from a couple of yards. Having grabbed his first of the season last weekend, Doolan now moves onto two for the new league campaign as he levelled things on the day.

Unfortunately for the home side, Queen of the South retook the lead shortly thereafter. With Thistle pushing for a second in the immediate aftermath of their goal, Queens hit sharply with a slick break. Gary Harkins received the ball in the Thistle half and, although James Penrice caught up with the ex-Jag, he was able to find Josh Todd who skipped forward and found the far corner with a well-reversed finish.

However, the game had suddenly descended into madness and the Jags were quickly level again but this time it was Blair Spittal turning the ball home. Kris Doolan laid the ball to Chris Erskine and the number ten touched the ball into the Queens’ box with Christie Elliott running onto it. Elliott then played a low cross into the six-yard box which was blocked by a blue jersey but the ball fell to Spittal nevertheless and the midfielder slammed home from close range, via a deflection.

Feeding off the confidence of a goal and an assist in the first 40 minutes, Spittal then grabbed another in the 41st minute but this one was far more remarkable than his first. A clearance fell the ex-Dundee united man’s way and he took a touch past his marker. He then opted to take a shot which rifled into the top corner, beating Alan Martin all ends up as the Jags took the lead for the first time of the game.

After four goals in 15 minutes, the referee ended the first half with the score 3-2 to Thistle. The hosts had come back from a goal down on two occasions to lead at the break and the goal that completed the fightback was a worthy one with Blair Spittal’s drive sure to rival Jack Storer’s in the goal of the season contest come the end of the Championship campaign.

As the second half started, it was clear that Queen of the South weren’t going to go down without a fight but Thistle were the side with the better chances following the interval as Blair Spittal went close to a hat-trick goal in the 58th minute. The Scotsman picked up the ball 20 yards from goal following a quick free-kick and shot for the near post. The effort rippled the net which had many in the Thistle support thinking it was 4-2 but they quickly realised that the ball had hit the side rather than the back of the net.

There was another excellent opportunity to extend the Jags’ lead on 70 minutes as Kris Doolan struck the woodwork. Miles Storey started the attack, breaking from his own half and reaching the corner of the pitch. He then intelligently found Kris Doolan with a reversed pass but when the attacker ran forward and shot across goal, the attempt rebounded off the far post.

The away side’s first troubling shot on target came with 15 minutes to play as a high ball into the box found Lyndon Dykes who was challenging with Craig Slater but the headed effort was adeptly tipped over the bar by Cammy Bell.

Shortly after that, Alan Archibald made three quickfire substitutions as Andrea Mutombo, Brice Ntambwe and Jai Quitongo came on for Chris Erskine, Stuart Bannigan and Kris Doolan respectively.

There was one chance left in the game but it wasn’t for the pressing Doonhamers. It came when Thistle caught their opposition out with a quick break as Blair Spittal drove a ball forward for Miles Storey to run onto. The number 19 had acres of space to sprint into but also had options to his right with Andrea Mutombo and Jai Quitongo making supporting runs. He chose to go himself but at the vital moment his legs seemed to give out on him with Alan Martin able to come out and smother his attack.

The game would then end with the Jags claiming all three points and moving above Queen of the South into sixth place, within four points of league leaders Ayr.

The win makes it three from three at home in the Championship this term and sets Thistle up nicely for a Friday night trip to Dunfermline this coming week. Kick-off is 19:45 at East End Park.

THISTLE TEAM: Bell, Elliott, Keown, McGinty, Penrice, Bannigan (Ntambwe, 80’), Slater, Spittal, Erskine (Mutombo, 76’), Storey, Doolan (Quitongo, 85’).

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Sneddon, Melbourne, Jefferies, Fitzpatrick.

QUEEN OF THE SOUTH TEAM: Martin, Marshall, Semple, Doyle, Mercer, Jacobs, Stirling (Frizzell, 65’), Todd, Harkins, Dykes, Dobbie.

UNUSED SUBS (QOS): Leighfield, Watson, Murray, Bell, Norman, Harvey.

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