Tuesday 23rd February, 2016 at 2:41pm
Thistle returned to league action for the first time in three weeks having suffered consecutive postponements in Ladbrokes Premiership. With two dry days leading up to the game there were no doubts surrounding the game and the Firhill pitch, while certainly not the greenest surface ever seen, was certainly more than passable.
Alan Archibald made three changes to the side which crashed out of the Scottish Cup to Dundee United. Mathias Pogba replaced Kris Doolan up front as manager Alan Archibald looked to change things in the attacking front, while also introducing a debut for deadline day loanee Aidan Nesbitt. Christie Elliott also came into the starting line up.
The game got off to a quiet start with both sides looking to get themselves used to the conditions, with Mathias Pogba doing well to hold the ball up for Thistle. His physicality was proving a useful asset for Thistle as the side looked to push higher up the pitch.
It was the visitors, however, who had the first effort on goal with Cerny having to be smart to tip a Danny Swanson effort around the post for a corner kick.
The first half was a game of few chances, with free kicks disrupting the play on a regular basis. The better of the chances fell to St Johnstone but neither goalkeeper was seriously tested for the remainder as Thistle entered halftime at a 0-0 scoreline for the ninth time in 10 games.
Thistle came out sharper in the second half with Pogba doing his best to open the scoring. An early effort was well saved by Mannus. A short corner routine saw Lawless set up Frans who crashed a header off the bar, via an instinctive save from the goalkeeper. As Saints hacked the ball clear, Callum Booth tried a swerving effort from distance which Mannus did just enough to claw away.
Thistle were beginning to find form in the second period and young loanee Aidan Nesbitt was having an influential impact on proceedings. He picked up the ball just inside the St Johnstone half and showed absolutely no fear to advance deep into the half, where his shot was deflected wide for a corner kick.
Lawless was thriving alongside the creative Nesbitt and he was next to have an effort which was well saved by Mannus after Pogba had done well to nod the ball down. Pogba put in a terrific shift causing havoc for the St Johnstone defence before being replaced by Kris Doolan with 20 minutes to go.
Doolan had been on the pitch less than a minute when a powerful Osman challenge spun high in the air in the striker’s direction. Doolan judged the flight of the ball perfectly and controlled it well before firing a powerful shot beyond Mannus with only his second touch to make a sensational start to the game from his perspective.
With Thistle a goal up, Saints started to push players forward looking for the equaliser, allowing Christie Elliott and David Amoo, when he came on as a substitute for Nesbitt who received a standing ovation from the majority of the Thistle crowd, to break away with pace against a tiring St Johnstone defence.
Callum Booth was determined to grab his first Thistle goal as the night got colder, but once again Mannus was more than equal to his effort.
With just a few minutes to go, Thistle grabbed the second and decisive goal in the contest. Gary Miller put in a strong challenge to win the ball just outside his penalty area, with the loose ball falling in the direction of Steven Lawless. The diminutive winger played the ball through to Amoo who ran straight at the St Johnstone defence. With defenders backing off him, the winger used his pace to tear away from covering players, with Steven Lawless making an excellent run to pull away defending players from him. As he approached the box, Amoo curled a left footed effort away from Mannus to put the seal on a terrific Thistle win.
Thistle navigated three minutes of injury time with ease to grab their third Ladbrokes Premiership clean sheet in a row, and record back to back wins to send the side flying to 8th position in the league.