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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v Rangers – 19th September 2017

After picking up their first league points from Rangers since 1995, Partick Thistle returned to action with a midweek clash in the Betfred Cup against the same opponents. The match was Thistle’s second cup quarter-final in two years as they faced their city rivals with a visit to Hampden at stake.

The Jags started with the same formation that earned them Friday’s draw with Ryan Scully still in goals, in Tomas Cerny’s absence. Niall Keown, Daniel Devine and Jordan Turnbull started in a back three with Christie Elliott and Paul McGinn as the wing-backs. Ryan Edwards and Adam Barton started in central midfield with a front three of Conor Sammon, Steven Lawless and Blair Spittal.

The game started with the sides trading half-chances in the opening 20 minutes as James Tavernier, Niall Keown, Blair Spittal and Daniel Candeias all looked to open the scoring early on, before the first clear-cut opportunity of the match in the 23rd minute.

Alfredo Morelos took a shot on goal from 25 yards and his attempt rifled towards the net but Ryan Scully beat it away. The ball then fell to the unmarked and onrushing Josh Windass. He had a free shot on goal but fluffed his lines and miscued, as the danger passed.

In the 36th minute, the hosts had their first big chance to open the scoring. Conor Sammon received the ball on the Thistle left and took Fabio Cardoso on. He used a couple of stepovers to skip past the defender and fire a low shot at the near post. Sammon found the target but Rangers goalkeeper, Jak Alnwick, got down well to the shot and turned it behind.

Sammon had another opportunity to break the deadlock with six minutes of the half left. Christie Elliott whipped a brilliant ball in from the left wing finding Ryan Edwards. The Australian then headed the ball back across goal towards Conor Sammon. The ex-Kilmarnock forward headed across goal and it looked for all the world like it was destined for the net but Jak Alnwick stretched out a strong arm to deny the number 18 the opener.

The game stayed goalless going into half-time as the Jags and the Gers couldn’t be separated. Both sides had their attacks but failed to find the net. Conor Sammon had two great opportunities but was denied twice by top class Jak Alnwick saves.

The second half started quickly and seven minutes in, Alfredo Morelos had a golden opportunity to score the first goal of the match. The ball broke heavily off him and he managed to get in behind the Jags rear-guard. As he ran into the box he attempted to slot the ball past Ryan Scully and into the far corner. His effort beat Scully but also beat the post as the ex-HJK striker passed up on a great chance.

Morelos’ blushes were spared however, when Carlos Pena gave the Gers the lead in the 54th minute. Daniel Candeias’ corner found the head of Pena at the near post. The Mexican flicked it on with a deft header, guiding it into the far corner, giving the visitors the lead.

Immediately following the goal, Thistle shook things up by bringing veteran marksman, Kris Doolan, on for centre-half, Jordan Turnbull.

Despite this attacking change, the Jags still struggled to break the away side down and the Gers should have doubled their advantage in the 64th minute. Paul McGinn slipped on the halfway line allowing Daniel Candeias to break in behind. The number 21 rounded Ryan Scully before taking aim on the open goal but he skied his effort, much to the delight of the home support.

With nine minutes left on the clock, Kris Doolan had a huge opportunity to level things. A corner first dropped to the feet of Daniel Devine, the centre-half turned and shot on goal. Jak Alnwick saved the first effort but the ball fell back to the usually clinical Doolan. He snapped at the shot and fired over the bar, uncharacteristically missing a chance to bring Thistle back level.

Just after that opportunity, Kevin Nisbet came on for Blair Spittal to beef up Thistle’s attack.

When Kris Doolan missed that chance in the 81st minute, many Jags fans may have thought that the game was over. However, in the game’s dying embers, the Jags grabbed an equaliser. Adam Barton swung a deep cross in from the right wing, finding Conor Sammon. The striker nodded down to strike partner, Kris Doolan. Doolan controlled the ball before smashing home, high into the net from close range.

Suddenly, Alan Archibald’s side were level and the game went to extra-time. Thirty more minutes to separate the sides, otherwise the tie would go to penalties.

Unfortunately for the home side, Daniel Candeias restored Rangers’ lead just three minutes into extra-time. Herrera laid the ball off to Candeias from inside the box and the number 21 fired a low shot at the near post. The attempt went through the legs of Christie Elliott and nestled into the corner, beating Ryan Scully to put the Gers back in control.

The scoring didn’t finish there either as Rangers grabbed a third in the 98th minute. Josh Windass slid a low ball across the face of goal, missing everyone. It came to Daniel Candeias past the goal who then redirected it back across the face. His pass found Eduardo Herrera and the substitute used a skillful flick to find the back of the net and double the deficit. After the goal, Stuart Bannigan was brought on for Steven Lawless.

Rangers’ third goal meant game over for Thistle as the Gers ran out 3-1 victors despite the Jags’ best efforts.

Thistle crashed out if the Betfred Cup as Pedro Caixinha’s men advanced to Hampden. The Jags now turn their attentions to a clash with Hearts in Saturday at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Kick-off is 16:00 in Maryhill.

Thistle: Scully, Turnbull (Doolan, 55’), Keown, Devine, Elliott, McGinn, Barton, Edwards, Lawless (Bannigan, 104’, Spittal (Nisbet, 82’), Sammon

Thistle Subs: Sneddon, Bannigan, Doolan, Nitriansky, Nisbet, McCarthy

Rangers: Alnwick, Tavernier, John (Hodson, 78’), Cardoso, Jack, Dorrans, Windass, Morelos (Herrera, 90’, Candeias, Pana (Holt, 69’), Alves (McCrorie, 75’)

Ranger Subs: Foderingham, Dalcio, Herrera, Hodson, Holt, Nemane, McCrorie

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