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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Partick Thistle v St Johnstone – 1st February 2017

After returning to Ladbrokes Premiership action with a goalless draw away at Inverness, Partick Thistle took on St. Johnstone at Firhill in attempt to extend their 5 game unbeaten run in competitive matches. The Saints were coming off the back of an impressive 3-0 win against Hamilton and would be looking to their last trip to Maryhill for inspiration as the Perth side picked up a 2-0 victory the last time they visited Firhill, in September.

There was one change made to the side that started against Inverness at the weekend. Ade Azeez dropped to the bench and was replaced by Kris Doolan in the starting eleven. Niall Keown retained his position at the centre of defence, making his home debut, while Abdul Osman returned to the squad. The club captain missed the last game through suspension but only made the bench for tonight’s clash. Thistle’s deadline day signing, Jason Banton, wasn’t included in the squad.

Sean Welsh captained the side once again in the absence of Abdul Osman, leading the Jags onto the pitch as the night’s action begun. The Thistle players were struggling to get the ball down early on with the team’s ball retention starting poorly. Misplaced passes were the theme of the opening stages and the game was shaping up to be a scrappy one.

A half chance did present itself in the 18th minute when Kris Doolan leapt into the air to knock the ball down to Ryan Edwards. The Australian then looked up to see Chris Erskine making a run but opted to go for goal, unleashing a shot from 30 yards which flew high and wide in the end.

The home side were finally beginning to make things happen as Chris Erskine curled a ball into the box, picking out Steven Lawless. The winger controlled the ball well before creating some space for a shot. He tried to pick out the far corner but the attempt flew wide, causing no real trouble for the Saints’ goalkeeper.

23 minutes in, the Maryhill men created the best chance of the match so far. Chris Erskine slotted a well-weighted ball into the path of Steven Lawless who then took aim and shot towards goal. The initial attempt was saved well by Alexander Clark but the rebound fell to Ryan Edwards who had an open net to aim at. However, he had to stoop awkwardly to head the ball and as a result he could only find the side netting.

Alan Archibald’s side had another golden opportunity to take the lead in the 29th minute. A Callum Booth corner found Niall Keown, whose header was blocked. The ball fell at the feet of Keown who proceeded to smash the ball at the goal. Alexander Clark managed to get two fists to the ball, stopping the shot and the danger was then cleared.

Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, the Jags would go into the half-time break behind. When a loose ball was high in the Thistle box, Callum Booth made an attempt to head the ball back to Tomas Cerny but his header wasn’t strong enough and Steven MacLean latched onto the ball. The Saints striker then acrobatically volleyed past Cerny putting the visitors in the lead with five minutes left until the interval.

This goal would be a body blow for Thistle as they had been growing into the game and the goal was the Perth side’s first shot on target of the match. It was also the first competitive goal that the Jags have conceded since the 3-1 victory over Ross County on December 23rd.

Kris Doolan had one chance to level things before half-time. He was played in behind the travelling defence by an over-the-top through ball and decided to unleash a shot towards the near post. The attempt was powerful but was fairly easily parried behind by Clark in the Saints net.

The score would remain 1-0 as the game reached the half way point. It was a score line that didn’t really tell the full story. St. Johnstone had failed to create any real clear cut opportunities and only ever looked like scoring when Thistle were making mistakes, while on the other hand, Alan Archibald’s men had the lion’s share of the first half chances but hadn’t been clinical in front of goal.

As the second half began, it was clear that St. Johnstone were looking to cling to their one goal lead. They began to run the clock down at every opportunity shortly after the restart and this inspired the Thistle management team to try to switch things up with a pair of substitutions. Ade Azeez and Abdul Osman were brought into the fray while Chris Erskine and Sean Welsh were withdrawn. Between the changes Danny Swanson was booked for simulation as he went down in the box looking for a penalty.

Ade Azeez caught a short glimpse of goal in the 68th minute as he got on the end of a Ryan Edwards cross. Unfortunately, the cross was a weak, floated one and didn’t have enough pace on it which meant Azeez saw his header easily collected by Clark.

In a final throw of the dice, Alan Archibald decided to bring David Amoo on for Kris Doolan as he looked to add some pace to the Jags’ attack.

Niall Keown had another chance to open his Thistle account when the ball dropped to the centre-half in the box. He swung a leg at the ball but his volley was slashed wide and the score remained 1-0.

The last chance of the match fell to David Wotherspoon with ten minutes remaining of the regulation 90. The Saints substitute picked up the ball in his own half before powering forward on the break. When he entered shooting distance he tried to curl a shot past Tomas Cerny but the attempt looped over the bar.

In the closing minutes, St. Johnstone used smart tactics to run down the clock and edge closer to their victory but just as it looked like all the action was over, a red card was brandished by the referee. It was shown to Jags man Christie Elliott who had been accused of kicking out at Graham Cummins after the Saints’ man provoked Elliott. The incident put added more problems for Alan Archibald coming off the back of a disappointing game.

The match ended with St. Johnstone the victors. Partick Thistle remained in seventh place on 23 points despite the disheartening defeat. The team must now look forward to their clash with Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Saturday as the Jags look to get back to winning ways. The game kicks off at 15:00.

THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Booth, Keown, Lindsay, Elliott, Welsh (Osman, 63’), Barton, Edwards, Erskine (Azeez, 56’), Lawless, Doolan (Amoo, 73’).

THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Ridgers, Dumbuya, Devine, Nisbet.

ST. JOHNSTONE TEAM: Clark, Foster, Anderson, Shaughnessy, B. Easton, Swanson (Wotherspoon, 71’), Millar, Davidson, Craig, Cummins, MacLean.

ST. JOHNSTONE SUBS (N/U): Mannus, Scobbie, Alston, Paton, Watson, Hunter.

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