Tuesday 13th October, 2020 at 11:59pm
Partick Thistle’s Betfred Cup journey continued with a midweek trip to face Queen of the South with the sides level on points having played two games apiece.
The Jags had lost their competitive opener 4-1 to St. Mirren before going on to beat Queen’s Park at Firhill meanwhile the Doonhamers won their first game on penalties against Morton before finding themselves on the other side of the spot kick lottery against St. Mirren.
There were only two changes made to the Jags side which defeated Queen’s Park three days prior with two-goal hero Joe Cardle and Connor Murray coming in to replace Blair Spittal and Zak Rudden who both took their place on the bench.
Things started very quickly and the away side could very easily have been in front after just three minutes. Stuart Bannigan floated a left-footed ball into the path of James Penrice who had burst into space on the flank and as the ball bounced in front of him, he was able to drive a cross into the danger area. Doonhamers defender, Gregor Buchanan, got his foot to it but only sliced it high into the air with the ball landing at the back post where Shea Gordon was situated. The Northern Irishman tried to force the ball home but Queen of the South goalkeeper, Rohan Ferguson, was able to deny him before Gordon’s attempt to scramble the second attempt over the line was again stopped by the ‘keeper.
James Penrice and Joe Cardle both had half-chances which they couldn’t convert before the Jags created another guilt-edged chance in the 10th minute. Connor Murray manoeuvred into some space on the right flank and delivered a low, powerful ball across the six-yard box which Rohan Ferguson got a hand to. The ball then fell the way of Shea Gordon who instinctively fired goalwards but Ferguson was up quickly to block and hold.
The home side had their first sight of goal after 16 minutes with ex-Thistle man, Aidan Fitzpatrick, at the centre of things. James Penrice was on the ball in the attacking half when his former teammate, Fitzpatrick, stole the ball and broke forward. The Doonhamers’ number seven then fed it forward to Connor Shields who accelerated past Richard Foster and looked to shoot across goal. Jamie Sneddon stood firm, however, and was able to turn the shot away from goal.
Then in the 34th minute, the matches defining moment arrived. A punt upfield by Jamie Sneddon was being chased by Brian Graham with Gregor Buchanan in tow. Suddenly, the Queen of the South defender hit the deck holding his face and the referee wasted no time in producing the red card for Thistle’s number nine.
The whole complexion of the game changed with the sending off and the hosts took control of proceedings as half-time approached with Aidan Fitzpatrick enjoying their best opportunity between the red card and the break. He battled for the ball with Ross Docherty, eventually getting away from the Jags midfielder and driving into the box. He then opted to shot across goal but his left-footed effort was dragged wide of the target.
The teams went into the break with the score goalless and Ian McCall made a couple of changes to better prepare his team for 45 minutes with a man disadvantage. Zak Rudden and Mouhamed Niang were the men introduced to the contest with Connor Murray and Joe Cardle making way.
The Firhill side looked pretty assured coming out for the second period and it wasn’t until the hour mark when Jamie Sneddon was forced into another save. Firstly, Nortei Nortey stepped forward from the right-back spot and rifled a low effort towards the near post which Sneddon was able to tip wide.
Then, from the resulting corner the ball deflected around before falling to Niyah Joseph and the youngster looked to find the bottom corner with a snapshot. It looked destined for the goal but Sneddon once again produced the save despite being unsighted by a cluster of bodies in front of him.
The Maryhill men weren’t content with just holding out for penalties and went close to a deadlock-breaking goal with 68 minutes on the clock. Zak Rudden held the ball up in the opposition half before laying it off to the supporting Shea Gordon. Gordon burst into the box and picked out a return pass to Rudden, however, the number 10’s effort was slightly sliced and went past the far post.
Rudden had another chance to open his red and yellow account shortly thereafter as Jamie Sneddon’s long free-kick found him in behind the home side ‘s defence. The striker’s brilliant run was picked out superbly by his goalkeeper but the ball just didn’t quite sit for him to strike first time and he had to take a touch. With his second touch he looked to play the ball across to Shea Gordon but Gregor Buchanan was on hand to clear.
Thistle threatened again in the 76th minute as Ross Docherty was denied a goal of the season contender by Rohan Ferguson. Zak Rudden had the ball on the right side of the box and was able to arch a cross into the goalmouth area. It bounced without being touched and eventually was cleared by Nortei Nortey but the number two’s punt went straight to Ross Docherty. The ex-Ayr captain opted to take it on the volley and his strike bulleted towards the top corner but the outstretched arms of Ferguson in the Doonhamers’ net tipped it onto the post before Shea Gordon’s rebound was collected.
The travelling Jags were almost caught out with two minutes to play as Queen of the South looked to grab all three points at the death. Connor Shields was fed the ball on the Doonhamers’ right and quickly delivered a perfect cross into the middle for substitute, Tommy Goss. The big striker rose to head it with the goal at his mercy but somehow missed the target completely.
With that chance passing the Dumfries side by, we went to penalties with the two sides looking to secure a bonus point on top of the one already guaranteed. The shootout represented Thistle third since the group stages returned in 2016 with the Jags losing the other two.
Zak Rudden stepped up first and confidently found the net but Queen of the South levelled things with the next penalty, taken by Ayo Obileye.
Ross Docherty was next for Thistle but as was the case in regulation time, Rohan Ferguson was able to deny the number 23 from finding the net. That allowed Rhys McCabe to give his side the lead, finding the bottom corner despite Jamie Sneddon diving the right way.
The Jags prospects were made to look even bleaker when Blair Spittal saw his effort from 12 yards saved by Ferguson at full stretch, however, Gregor Buchanan was unable to capitalise on the second miss as he saw his shot turned away by Sneddon.
Salim Kouider-Aissa took Thistle’s fourth and he dispatched his penalty with no issues at all, giving Jamie Sneddon the opportunity to maintain parity going into the fifth round and the ‘stopper managed to do just that, saving to his right to deny the experienced Willie Gibson.
Ciaran McKenna now had the opportunity to pile the pressure on the hosts and he finished his spot kick well, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
That meant that Nortei Nortey had to score to take the penalties beyond the usual ten, however, the defender fluffed his lines and sent the ball high and wide of the target meaning Thistle took the extra point to sit on five points after three matches.