Wednesday 6th August, 2014 at 6:44pm
Thistle completed their pre-season build up with a comfortable win over a Sunderland XI, although they did need to recover from the loss of the game’s opening goal before recording a deserved 3-1 win.
The Firhill playing surface was in immaculate condition for this game and both sides knocked the ball about well across it in the opening exchanges without threatening either goal. The first half chance did come Thistle’s way but the ball just wouldn’t sit up for James Craigen about 8 yards from goal.
It was the visitors though that opened the scoring in the 14th minute and it was a poor goal to concede from a Thistle perspective with Tom Beadling having a worrying amount of time and space with which to divert a header into the net following a corner on the right hand side.
Thistle were nearly level in double quick time when Joel Dixon in the Sunderland goal almost completely missed a cross from the Thistle left but Ryan Stevenson, playing as a lone striker, was unable to connect with the ball.
Although a goal down Thistle were dictating the game and Stevenson saw his deflected shot saved by Dixon after James Craigen had knocked the ball back into his path and in the 29th minute Jordan McMillan missed the best chance yet for Thistle when he screwed his shot wide of goal after James Craigen sent him clear down the right hand side of the Sunderland box.
The well deserved equaliser though finally arrived in the 33rd minute and young Dale Keenan was involved in the heart of the move. He cut inside from the left hand side and his cross was met at the back post by the head of Christie Elliott and Thistle were level.
Alan Archibald made a number of changes at half-time as he utilised virtually his full squad of players and his side looked increasingly the stronger during the course of the second 45 minutes.
It took Thistle till just past the hour mark before they finally nudged themselves in front and the goal came as a result of some quickly thinking and quickly taken free kick from Gary Fraser. His free kick was collected by Steven Lawless and his low shot found the corner of the Sunderland net.
Two minutes later strong Thistle appeals for a penalty, when Kris Doolan found himself dumped on the turf inside the Sunderland box, fell on deaf ears and the same player dragged a shot wide of goal in the 73rd minute.
Sunderland meantime rarely had the Thistle defence under any serious or prolonged pressure but they did come close to an equaliser when a Watmore, on loan last season with Hibs, saw his effort strike the top of the Thistle crossbar.
Kris Doolan was close to a third Thistle goal with 15 minutes remaining as Fraser and McDaid combined to open up the Sunderland defence but Doolan was denied a goal by the combined efforts of a Sunderland defender and the crossbar.
Thistle though weren’t to be denied a third goal and it duly arrived, albeit with a touch of good fortune, with 2 minutes of the game remaining; Stephen O’Donnell seeing his cross diverted past his own goal keeper by Thomas Robson.
That goal ensured that Thistle would finish their pre-season build-up with a win but there was still time for them to come close to a fourth goal. Steven Lawless, who looked sharp throughout his time on the pitch, saw an angled shot rebound off the base of the Sunderland post with Chris Duggan’s effort from the rebound blocked by a defender.