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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Raith Rovers – 16th April 2013

The champagne remains on ice; at least for a few more days. Three times previously this season Raith Rovers had proven to be very tough opponents and so they proved to be once more in a game that they could, and probably should, have established an early lead in.
After the last minute heroics at Airdrie manager Alan Archibald made just one change to his side for this game. Chris Erskine was handed a start with Steven Craig taking up the position on the bench that Erskine had occupied at the weekend.
If there were any nerves around in the Thistle ranks they weren’t helped any by Rovers missing a gilt edged opportunity inside the game’s first 30 seconds. A no more than hopeful ball forward left Brian Graham with just Scott Fox to beat but the normally reliable Graham knocked his effort wide of goal.
Three minutes later and Rovers again came close. Greig Spence the player to spurn an excellent opportunity though in truth it was a fine save from Scott Fox that prevented him from scoring.
It took Thistle a bit of time to recover from that and they were just starting to show signs of settling when Rovers once more passed up a one on one opportunity. Thistle gave away possession in midfield far too cheaply following a free kick and that allowed Spence a clear run at goal. The Rovers striker, however, was again thwarted by an excellent Scott Fox save.
It was probably only really in that opening 15 minutes that Rovers carried that much of a threat but Thistle were more than a little fortunate to emerge from that period unscathed.
The rest of the half, indeed the majority of the remainder of the game, was dominated by Thistle with McGurn by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. James Craigen was the first Thistle player to truly test him with the flag going up for offside after the rebound fell to Kris Doolan.
Chris Erskine shot wide as Thistle stepped up the pressure and a Kris Doolan header from a Sean Welsh cross went over the bar.
Just past the half hour mark Chris Erskine saw another effort go over the bar before, in the 33rd minute, Thistle came the closest yet to establishing a lead. Kris Doolan did tremendously well to turn inside the Rovers box but he saw his shot saved by McGurn at his right hand post.
Still Thistle pressed and in the 39th minute perhaps should have been in front. McGurn was forced to touch away a teasing Ross Forbes cross but the bell fell to Kris Doolan. Doolan though was stretching to reach it and in doing so could only knock the ball over the bar to stifle the shouts of ‘goal’ from the crowd.
Thistle had one more opportunity before the break with McGurn once more forced into action; this time saving from Chris Erskine.
As Thistle dominance continued after the break so too did the frustration grow at the failure to find the goal that would be enough to clinch the title.
Steven Lawless was introduced for Ross Forbes in the 58th minute and he seemed to inject new life into the Thistle attack. Indeed Lawless was involved in the move, just four minutes after coming on, that produced Thistle’s clearest scoring opportunity of the second half. He touched the ball into the path of Chris Erskine but despite a clear look at goal Erskine couldn’t hit the target.
It wasn’t long though before McGurn was again in the thick of the action, making two excellent saves, the first from Steven Lawless and the second from Kris Doolan, just seconds apart from each other. He saved too, low to his right, to prevent a Stephen O’Donnell shot from sneaking in after O’Donnell and Erskine had combined down the left.
The longer the game went on though the more you began to sense that this wasn’t going to be Thistle’s night. Steven Lawless dragged a shot wide and Christie Elliott saw his effort from the edge of the box fly straight into the arms of the waiting McGurn as the clock edged ever near to the 90 minute mark.
When the final whistle sounded after three minutes of injury time there was a real sense of disappointment that the league hadn’t been won. However, a nine point lead with three games to play, plus a vastly superior goal difference, is still an incredibly strong position to be in and one that nobody associated with Thistle would have turned their noses up at had they been offered it at the start of the season.

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