Saturday 2nd May, 2015 at 7:19pm
After the previous weekend’s magnificent victory up at Dingwall it was no surprise that manager, Alan Archibald, named an unchanged team for the visit of St Mirren to Firhill. The Paisley Saints came looking to build on their 4-1 victory over Kilmarnock the previous week and still had lingering, albeit faint, hopes of avoiding the drop. Meanwhile, a win for Thistle would guarantee Premiership football for another season for the Firhill side.
Before the game started there was a minute’s applause for James “Chico” Reilly which was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters.
It was Thistle who were the first to create a real chance when Ryan Stevenson collected the ball in the middle of the park and sent a pass through to Lyle Taylor who cut inside and fired narrowly wide of Ridgers post. Taylor again caused more trouble for the Saints defence when getting in between the centre half pairing, but his touch was too heavy and Ridgers collected the ball.
A Kallum Higginbotham corner was taken off the head of Frederic Frans as he looked to grab his second consecutive Jags goal as the home side continued to press. Steven Lawless saw his shot deflected wide after some great build up play from Stephen O’Donnell and Higginbotham. Stevenson and Higginbotham then combined well down the right to create another chance for Lawless but his effort was tipped over by Ridgers.
It was all one way traffic and Conrad Balatoni headed a Higginbotham corner across goal only to see Frans’ overhead kick go just wide. Quick thinking by Higginbotham from a free kick saw O’Donnell scamper down the right and his driven shot across goal was saved well by the Saints keeper.
Saints did threaten when Naismith found space down the right and burst past Balatoni, both players had their hands on each other and went down in a heap in the box. The visitors were apoplectic with rage that no penalty was given although it appeared that Naismith’s arm was around Balatoni beforehand and the incident certainly began outside the box. Stevenson then fired a powerful effort wide of the target while Taylor could not get enough power to divert a cross past the visitors keeper to leave the scoreline at 0-0 as the whistle went for half time.
Into the second half and it was Saints’ Mallan with the first effort when he blasted a 35 yard volley not only over the goal but also over the roof of the North Stand. In the 49th minute the Saints nearly took the lead in bizarre circumstances. Balatoni, Frans and Fox all left the ball to each other and, with Thompson closing in, Fox’s clearance smashed off the Saints captain but thankfully ended up wide of the target.
Despite all of Thistle’s possession the game remained goalless until the 68th minute when O’Donnell and Higginbotham combined on the right and the latter’s brilliant cross saw Stevenson rise above the visitors defence and head powerfully past Ridgers into the top corner, 1-0 to the Jags and a deserved lead it was too.
Next to start an attack was Stephen O’Donnell who launched one of his missile-like long throws and Stevenson controlled the ball but, with his back to goal, could not direct his shot on target.
Frans then sidefooted a Higginbotham corner wide of the target while at the other end Dayton’s 25 yard shot posed no problems for Fox and it drifted well wide.
On 82 minutes Thistle made it 2-0. Higginbotham fired in a corner which Frans headed up in the air, the Saints defence failed to clear properly and Abdul Osman attacked the ball before heading it back into the danger area where substitute Kris Doolan was lurking in acres of space and hooked the ball past Ridgers for his 10th goal of the season.
The Saints nearly pulled one back when Osman was robbed trying to shepherd the ball out of play and the ball fell to Gow who fired over from five yards when it looked easier to score.
A delightful chipped pass from Balatoni picked out substitute Gary Fraser’s well timed run into the box but his shot was deflected wide by Ridgers. From the resultant corner the Saints yet again failed to clear the danger and, when the ball fell to Lawless 20 yards out, he drove home powerfully past the keeper to make it 3-0 and earn Thistle a deserved three points and ensure the Jags would be a Premiership outfit for another season.
Thistle: Fox, Booth, Balatoni, Frans, O’Donnell, Osman, Bannigan, Lawless, Stevenson, Higginbotham (Fraser), Taylor (Taylor)
Subs: Gallacher, Craigen, Doolan (77), Elliott, Richards-Everton, Fraser (85), Wilson