Saturday 23rd July, 2016 at 6:00pm
After a 1-0 win over Airdrie in Thistle’s Betfred Cup opener, the Jags were looking to continue the winning trend against a Queen of the South team who had already secured two wins in the competition. Queens were looking for a win that would put them further ahead of the rest in Group E.
Alan Archibald made two changes to the side who started at the Excelsior Stadium last Friday night with Ade Azeez replacing Kris Doolan up front and David Amoo returning to the starting line-up, replacing Declan McDaid. Danny Devine, David Crawford, Ziggy Gordon and Ade Azeez all made their home debuts, while Chris Erskine returned to Firhill after two years away.
Thistle got the game underway but it would be Queens that went close first. Ziggy Gordon gave the ball away cheaply on the right and Derek Lyle, who scored twice in Queen of the South’s 2-0 victory over Airdrie, almost took advantage. The forward tried to curl a shot into the corner but the ball bounced off the post and the danger was cleared. The next chance fell to the team from Dumfries as well. An in swinging corner evaded all in red and yellow and almost fell to the onrushing Grant Anderson but even on the stretch, he couldn’t find meaningful contact.
Both sides were enjoying spells of possession early on but the Jags couldn’t quite find a passing rhythm in the first 15 minutes. Thistle’s first big chance came around 19 minutes in when a superb chipped cross from David Amoo found Ade Azeez, who was making his first competitive start in a Jags top. However, the Englishman could only find the side netting as he struggled to keep his balance. Azeez would get another chance two minutes later as Booth picked him out but his powerful header struck the bar and the ball was then collected by Lee Robinson.
Thistle were doing some good work on the break and it almost paid dividends on the 30 minute mark. Chris Erskine picked up the ball on the half-way line and proceeded to beat two Queens men only to have his shot blocked by Andy Dowie as the Thistle pressure built. Perhaps the best chance of the half fell to Ade Azeez, who once again found himself in the right place at the right time after some pinball in the opposition six-yard box. When the ball fell to him, he looked destined to score but from five yards out Dowie was there to block once again.
Queen of the South suffered a setback in the 34th minute as Grant Anderson was forced off and replaced by Lyndon Dykes. The early substitution, plus the fact that Thistle were beginning to pass with more precision and slickness, meant that Queens found themselves with their backs to the wall towards the end of the first half. They did have one good chance when Mark Millar managed to pick up the ball in the Jags’ half before striking from range, his shot dipped and swerved but only rattled David Crawford’s crossbar. Despite some good play by Thistle they couldn’t muster anymore good chances before half time and that would be it for the first half.
When the teams re-emerged for the second half, it was the visiting team who looked sharper. The men in blue were pressing and were soon rewarded for it. Just a minute or so into the second half, Derek Lyle found space out wide. He hit a low cross across the six-yard box right between the ‘keeper and the defence, causing huge problems. The ball was missed by the Queens man, Dale Hilson, but it did nestle into the corner of Thistle’s goal thanks to a deflection off Ziggy Gordon.
At this point, Alan Archibald made his first change. Kris Doolan came on for Ade Azeez in the 53rd minute as the manager looked to freshen things up in the attack. Thistle’s passing wasn’t at its best and it was seriously affecting the flow of the play. Alan Archibald made his final two changes in quick succession, with Edwards and Pogba replacing Amoo and Wilson respectively within seven minutes of each other. Queen of the South made their final substitutions in the 64th and 74th minute. After those changes it was the visitors who created the first big chance as Dale Hilson hit the post from point blank range. The rebound fell to Steven Rigg but his effort was heroically blocked by Ryan Edwards.
It would be Edwards who got the chance that started the sustained Thistle pressure as he headed a Callum Booth cross a couple of feet over. At this point, Thistle had the bit between their teeth and took control of the game. The added energy paid off. As the Jags entered the final 10 minutes of the 90, a scramble ensued in the Queens box, Mathias Pogba managed to stab the ball back to Chris Erskine who grabbed the equaliser to top off a great performance by the number 10.
After the Jags got level, Queen of the South struggled to get out of their own half as Thistle piled bodies forward in search of a winner. Welsh had an opportunity from 25 yards but he sliced the shot wide.
Just when it looked like the game was headed to a penalty shootout, Steven Lawless stepped up. A great cross by Ziggy Gordon was met by Pogba who cushioned an inch perfect header down towards Lawless. Thistle’s wide midfielder volleyed home from close range, scoring his first goal from inside the box in 74 games. Queen of the South sent everything forward late on, including their goalkeeper for a late corner, but it was enough. The game ended 2-1 to Partick Thistle.
After a shaky start to the second half, Alan Archibald’s men got back in control as the game came to a close and manged to grab the three points late on. Thistle now sit level on points with today’s opposition but with a game in hand.
Attention will now shift to Tuesday’s encounter at Ochilview as the Jags take on Stenhousemuir in the third game of Thistle’s Betfred Cup journey.
Partick Thistle: Crawford, Booth, Welsh, Amoo (Edwards, 63), Erskine, Lawless, Devine, Azeez (Doolan, 54), Wilson (Pogba, 69), Gordon
Subs N/U: Cerny, McDaid, Syme, Nisbet
Queen of the South: Robinson, Hamill, Marshall, Dowie, Higgins, Anderson (Dykes, 35), Millar, Lyle (Rigg, 74), Hilson, Jacobs, Tapping (Moxon, 66)
Subs N/U: Atkinson, Brownlie, Smith, Brotherson