Tuesday 14th August, 2012 at 8:48pm
The Ramsdens Cup may not be the most important tournament that Thistle will play in this season but the Thistle fans turned out in big numbers this evening at Hampden. So much so that kick-off was delayed for over 15 minutes to allow the crowd in. They end up witnessing a quite incredible game.
Once the Thistle fans had taken their seats they saw the Jags team that started the game show six changes from the weekend. In came Ryan Scully, Aaron Sinclair, Conrad Balatoni, James Craigen, Mark McGuigan and Christie Elliott. Paul Paton took the captain’s armband in the absence of both Alan Archibald and Hugh Murray.
Thistle suffered an early blow when they were forced to replace Sean Welsh who was on the wrong end of a hefty challenge from a Queen’s player. After being treated on the park for several minutes the unfortunate Welsh was replaced by Chris Erskine.
From the free kick that followed the challenge on Welsh, Thistle were close to taking the lead. Neil Parry making an excellent save low to his right to keep out Aaron Muirhead’s header. Parry was twice required to make saves from Christie Elliott as Thistle continued to press for the important opening goal.
It was the home side though that opened the scoring in the 18th minute and it was a stunning strike. Lawrence Shankland, who has been among the goals for Queen’s in the early weeks of the season, let fly from fully 30 yards and Ryan Scully was left grasping for air as the ball flew past him and into the net.
Thistle had to that point looked fairly comfortable and in control but Shankland’s goal changed the game almost in an instant. Thistle were starting to labour and frustration was creeping in, Stuart Bannigan joining Queen’s Michael Keenan in being booked.
Thistle though did nearly draw level in the 31st minute and in fairly bizarre circumstances. Chris Erskine drilled the ball low and hard into the Queen’s six yard box and Ricky Little’s clearance struck the face of his own crossbar.
Only a further three minutes elapsed before Thistle were back level. There was a touch of controversy surrounding the goal, or at least the decision to award Thistle the corner that led to the goal. At any rate Neil Parry was able to punch clear James Craigen’s corner but Thistle maintained possession, and when the ball was chipped back into the box it broke to Aaron Sinclair who slotted the ball home.
Seven minutes later Thistle were in front. James Craigen was again involved with Christie Elliott able to glance a header from Craigen’s cross beyond Parry and into the net.
Thistle could even have had a third before the break. Parry could save but not hold a Chris Erskine shot but he recovered in time to grab the ball just ahead of Mark McGuigan. Aaron Sinclair too came close before the break when after cutting in from the left he was denied by Parry at his near post.
The home side were close to once more levelling the scores inside the first minute of the second half when Ryan Scully was forced to save with his feet to prevent Shankland scoring his second goal of the night.
There was, however, an alarming slackness creeping into Thistle’s play and in the 53rd minute Queen’s Park did once more tie the scores. Jamie Longworth had far too much space and time at the edge of the Thistle box and he found the bottom corner of the net.
Against an eager home side it was starting to become a bit of a struggle for Thistle but they were back in front in the 64th minute. Steve Lawless sent Chris Erskine clear on goal and Erskine took the ball round Parry before sliding the ball into the empty net.
It was anything but ‘game over’ at this point though as four minutes after Thistle had regained their lead, Queen’s came close to pegging them back once more. James Brough seeing his effort deflected just wide of Ryan Scully’s right hand post.
Thistle could have done with the comfort of a fourth goal and Chris Erskine stung the hands of Neil Parry with a fierce drive from 25 yards.
Aaron Sinclair did likewise in the 74th minute before Chris Erskine knocked the loose ball into the side netting.
On a night in which Thistle were less than convincing at the back Queen’s notched a third goal in the 78th minute. Whether Tony Quinn was trying to find the bottom corner of the net or not is open to debate but that’s precisely what he did.
Worse was to follow when Queen’s took the lead with five minutes remaining. Former jag Ricky Little thundering home a free kick from 25 yards out.
If you thought that was the end of the scoring then you were very much mistaken. Just when it looked as if Thistle were heading out the competition Stuart Bannigan shot home from the edge of the box.
Amazingly there was time for one more goal. The ball fell to Chris Erskine and after taking one touch he fired the ball into the back of the net.