Saturday 20th January, 2018 at 8:21pm
Three weeks after goals from Kris Doolan and Conor Sammon secured victory for Partick Thistle against Ross County in a vital game, the Jags returned to competitive action with a William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Queen of the South. Thistle traveled to Palmerston Park off the back of a much needed break that saw Alan Archibald’s men swap Maryhill for Marbella as they journeyed to Spain for a week long training camp. Now, back in snow covered Scotland, the Jags looked to advance in the cup in front of over 1,000 away fans.
Tomas Cerny remained in goals behind a changed defence. Daniel Devine was suspended for the game so Niall Keown and Adam Barton lined up together in a back four with Paul McGinn at right back and Callum Booth making a return at left back after five months on the sidelines. There was a big return in the midfield as well as Jags skipper, Abdul Osman also came back into the side after a long term absence with a shoulder injury. Ryan Edwards partnered Osman in the midfield behind the threatening trio of Blair Spittal, Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless. Conor Sammon was the lone striker as he looked to build on the performances that saw him claim the McCrea Financial Service Player of the Month award for December.
Both sides began the game sloppily but the home side did carve out an opportunity in the fifth minute. Queens danger man, Stephen Dobbie found some space just outside Thistle 18-yard box and the number 11 unleashed a rasping shot from 20 yards which bent just the wrong side of Tomas Cerny’s left hand post.
After that early chance for the hosts, it was Thistle who then had a sight of goal in the seventh minute. Callum Booth’s cross from the Jags’ left flank landed at the feet of Paul McGinn. The defender, who is still looking for a first Thistle goal, shot on goal with his right foot. He rather scuffed the shot though and his effort bounced safely into the gloves of Alan Martin.
Thistle were almost the architects of their own demise when a slack back pass was intercepted on 31 minutes. Stand-in centre-half, Adam Barton attempted to head the ball back to Tomas Cerny but Ross Fergusson was able to latch onto it. The number 18 beat Cerny to the ball but couldn’t direct a lifted attempt goalward as his effort was cleared easily.
Queen of the South would be made to rue their missed chances when Conor Sammon fired Thistle in front on 41 minutes. The Jags broke from a Doonhamers corner but decided to hold onto the ball instead of flying forward. This method of attack proved to be a rewarding one as a quick one-two between Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless allowed the latter to touch the ball through to Conor Sammon. The striker nipped in front of his marker to control before expertly slotting the ball home from inside the box. The goal was Sammon’s third of the season and his first away from home for the Jags.
That’s how things stayed as the teams entered the break. The home side would feel that Thistle’s lead was an undeserved one as they had shown plenty in that first 45, however, one patient bit of play leading to a clinical finish was the difference for the teams and the Jags were to kick the second half off in the lead.
The hosts needed a response if they were to get themselves back into this tie and that’s exactly what they produced as ten minutes into the second period, they were level. Ross Fergusson got the better of Niall Keown on the Queens right and the forward burst into the box. Keown did excellently to recover but when he made a sliding tackle, his challenge sent the ball back off the striker and into the net. A fortuitous goal but probably a deserved one for the Championship side who had put in a good showing up until that point.
Blair Spittal had a sight of goal with 20 minutes left to play of the regulation 90. The number seven picked the ball up on the left wing and he cut inside onto his stronger right foot. Spittal rifled a shot goalward and although it was on target and had plenty of power, it was straight at Alan Martin who parried it away.
Alan Archibald made his first change of the game in the 70th minute as Kris Doolan came on for Steven Lawless with the team needing some invigoration up front.
Despite this alteration, it was Queen of the South who came extremely close to taking the lead in the 74th minute. A Queens corner taken by Mercer found the head of Shaun Rooney. The ex-York City man headed towards the far corner but saw his attempt go agonisingly wide of the back stick.
Having seen the hosts pass up an opportunity to take the lead, Thistle would make sure not to do the same as they retook the advantage with nine minutes left to play. Callum Booth fed the ball to Conor Sammon who was situated in the Queens box with his back to goal. Booth made a decoy run beyond Sammon which opened up some space for the Irishman to turn and shoot. He did exactly that and he found the back of the net, via a sizeable deflection. The striker reeled off to celebrate his fourth goal of the season with the enormous away support bursting into celebration.
The Jags would go on to see the game out with Andrew McCarthy coming in for Chris Erskine to help steady the ship. Willie Collum blew for full time with the score at 2-1 and Thistle progressed to the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup with the draw coming on Sunday evening.
The Maryhill men must now look forward to a league clash with Celtic on Tuesday night as the Champions come to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. Kick-off is 19:45.
QUEEN OF THE SOUTH TEAM: Martin, Rooney, Fordyce (Cameron, 61’), Brownlie, Rankin, Dobbie, Thomson, Fergusson (Stirling, 82’), Beerman (Murray, 69’), Mercer, Dykes.
UNUSED SUBS (QSO): Leighfield, Bell, Akubuine, Gourlay.
THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Booth, Keown, Osman (c), Spittal, Erskine (McCarthy, 84′), Lawless (Doolan, 72′), Barton, McGinn, Sammon, Edwards.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Dumbuya, Nisbet, Penrice, Storey.
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