Sunday 7th April, 2013 at 9:40pm
Partick Thistle’s Ramsdens Cup adventure ended in a heart breaking defeat on penalties after an otherwise indifferent game had an explosive conclusion.
The non-availability of a number of players for a variety of reasons made manager Alan Archibald’s team selection relatively straightforward but he did still have one big call to make; Steven Craig getting the nod to start ahead of Kris Doolan.
In what proved to be a bruising physical battle Thistle’s Chris Erskine received a painful blow to his back in a challenge with Chris Mitchell inside the game’s first 90 seconds. Thistle though were able to start the game on the front foot and they immediately took the game to their opponents, winning a number of corners in fairly rapid fashion.
They were, however, unable to make their early pressure count and with the stiff breeze making things difficult for both teams the game became fairly quickly an untidy affair.
There were few chances in the first half with Queens have the best of the few that there were. In the 11th minute Derek Lyle shot over the bar before, in the 36th minute, Nicky Clark missed a glaring opportunity at the back post after Lyle had flicked on a Mitchell corner.
Thistle’s best opportunity in the opening half was a shot from distance from Stuart Bannigan that Robinson did well to claw away from his goal, although it did look as if it might have been sneaking past the post in any case.
The second half brought little improvement or much change in the pattern of play. Queen of the South continued to look the side more likely to break the deadlock and it took a fine stop from Scott Fox to prevent Clark from scoring in the 57th minute. Mark Durnan too came close with a glancing header following a Chris Mitchell free kick.
Sean Welsh rather wasted an excellent opportunity for Thistle with a free kick on the edge of the Queens box as the game moved into its’ closing stages and Kris Doolan, on as a sub for Steven Craig, nearly snatched a win right at the death but Robinson got just enough of a touch to Doolan’s shot to take it round the post.
With the game still goalless though it was into extra-time.
Kris Doolan had the first chance of extra-time when he angled a shot wide of Robinson outstretched arms but Queen of the South did finally manage to break the stalemate when they nudged themselves in front after 101 minutes of action.
Danny Carmichael’s effort hit the bar and Nicky Clark was in the right place at the right time to nod the ball home from close range.
That goal at the time had the look of a winner about it but the second period of extra-time was an explosive 15 minutes of action.
Thistle were close to an equaliser when the impressive Ross Forbes spotted fellow sub Christie Elliott to his right. Elliott’s shot flew across goal with Kris Doolan just unable to apply a finish at the back post.
With Thistle now looking a real threat for the first time in the game, Ross Forbes curled a free kick towards goal that Robinson did well to push away at his near post.
With just two minutes of extra-time remaining Thistle were handed a lifeline. Christie Elliott was fouled just inside the Queen of the South box and Thistle had a penalty. Aaron Muirhead had previously a 100% record from the spot this season but on this occasion Robinson dived to his right and produced an excellent stop to keep the penalty out. In the melee that followed Muirhead struck Chris Higgins with his head with a red card the only possible outcome.
There was still drama to come in this game. With just seconds remaining Ross Forbes sent over a cross from the left and Kris Doolan was on hand to bundle the ball home from close range to spark wild scenes of celebration and send the tie into penalties.
After Derek Young had netted the first penalty of the shoot out, Stephen O’Donnell saw his effort saved to hand an early advantage to Queen of the South.
Scott Fox, however, was able to save Danny Carmichael’s effort to once again level things up and it wasn’t until Conrad Balatoni, who was excellent throughout the game, took Thistle’s seventh penalty that another kick was missed. That miss was enough to hand the Ramsdens Cup to Queen of the South and see Thistle’s afternoon finish in bitter disappointment.