Saturday 16th September, 2017 at 12:28am
Partick Thistle picked up their first league point of the season last weekend when they drew 1-1 at the Global Energy Arena against Ross County. They looked to build on that this evening as they welcomed city rivals, Rangers to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Thistle sat in tenth place on equal points with the bottom two, Dundee and Kilmarnock. Rangers came into the game in fourth place and off the back of a 4-1 demolition of Dundee in their last outing.
Thistle started without Tomas Cerny for the first time this season as his injury problems had not subsided since the County clash. Ryan Scully started in his place. The backline reverted to the three centre-half set-up that was so successful for the Jags at the start of this year. Daniel Devine and Jordan Turnbull retained their place from the match against the Staggies while Niall Keown made his return from suspension to complete the three. The Jags’ wing-backs were Christie Elliott and Paul McGinn, who was making his debut for Thistle having received international clearance this afternoon. In the centre of the park, Ryan Edwards played alongside Adam Barton. Blair Spittal and Chris Erskine begin the game out wide while Miles Storey started up front, making his second Thistle start. On the bench, there were dangerous options for Alan Archibald. Kris Doolan, Steven Lawless, Stuart Bannigan and Conor Sammon all represented chances for Archie to switch things up mid-game.
Prior to kick-off, all in the stadium took part in a minute’s applause in memory of Thistle super fan Harry Calderhead who sadly passed away recently. His effect on the club was a great one and he is a man who will not be forgotten at Partick Thistle.
The first notable action of the match was a substitution. Rangers’ skipper, Lee Wallace, picked up an injury while attempting a shot and further damaged the area in a tussle with Miles Storey. The influential full-back had to be withdrawn with Declan John coming on in his place.
Shortly after that change, Rangers had the lead and it came through Alfredo Morelos in the 17th minute. The marksman was fed the ball wide in the Jags box and shot across goal. His drive was low and powerful, beating Ryan Scully and finding the far corner. This was the first time in three games that the Ibrox side had broken the deadlock in Maryhill.
Rangers had a chance to double the deficit on the half-hour mark when an Alfredo Morelos cross was chested down into the path of Josh Windass by Kenny Miller. The ex-Accrington Stanley man, Windass shot on goal but it was blocked by an array of Thistle bodies throwing themselves at the ball.
After that Windass opportunity there were only half-chances to be had before the break and the sides went into the interval at 1-0 to the travelling Gers. Thistle had enjoyed very little of the ball with the visitors having most of the possession. Thistle needed a quick reaction if they were to drag themselves back into things and that’s exactly what they did.
Four minutes into the second 45, Miles Storey won a free-kick on the edge of the Rangers box. Set-piece specialist, Blair Spittal, stepped up to take the kick and fired a shot on goal. His attempt was on target but looked like it was going to be saved until it took a deflection on its way through the wall, allowing it to beat Wes Foderingham and bring Thistle level.
The leveller was followed by another Thistle goal when stand-in captain, Chris Erskine found the net ten minutes later. Blair Spittal was able to break through the Rangers backline and square a ball across goal. The pass found Chris Erskine who tapped home from close range to net his first ever Thistle goal from inside the six-yard box. The goal was Erskine’s 51st in the red and yellow and also gave the Jags the lead in this fixture.
The ecstasy of the goal was unfortunately short lived Jags number ten, Erskine as he was sent off seven minutes later. The midfielder took too many touches in the middle of the park and when he lost control of the ball, he lunged in on Alfredo Morelos picking up a red card from referee, Willie Collum. Suddenly it was all hands on deck for the Jags as they faced around 25 minutes of action with a one-man deficit.
The Thistle defence held out for ten minutes before Rangers nabbed an equaliser. Ex-Thistle loanee, Graham Dorrans, picked up the ball 30 yards from the Jags’ goal. He dodged onto his right foot before unleashing a curling effort on goal. He picks out the top corner and despite Ryan Scully getting a slight touch on the shot, it beats the ‘keeper and Rangers drew level.
After the goal, Thistle made their first changes of the evening. Conor Sammon and Stuart Bannigan were brought on to replace Miles Storey and Blair Spittal.
With the game entering its final minutes, Rangers launched the ball into the box as much as possible. They packed the box with bodies but struggled to create any meaningful openings. There was one delivery that almost lead to a goal when Alfredo Morelos tried to break away from his marker Niall Keown. The pair ended up falling to the ground together and Ryan Scully claimed the resultant loose ball.
Some good game management and solid defending carried Thistle over the line as they secured the point and gained the Maryhill men their first draw against the Gers’ in the league since May 1995. The point leaves them in the same spot they started the game in, tenth, but the Jags now sit a point clear of Killie and Dundee, who make up the bottom two spots.
The Jags now have to focus on Tuesday’s Betfred Cup clash with the Gers as they prepare for round two of Thistle-Rangers this week. Kick-off is 19:45 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
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