Saturday 30th July, 2016 at 6:00pm
Following a convincing 4-1 win against Stenhousemuir on Tuesday evening, Partick Thistle were looking to finish in top spot in group E as well as securing a seeding for the next round of the Betfred Cup. Thistle were looking to complete a 100% League Cup group stage record for the first time in more than 40 years.
The opposition for today’s match was Queen’s Park, a team that has had a campaign of mixed fortunes in the competition. They had been beaten in their opener against Queen of the South but managed to win away at Ochilview to keep their hopes of progression alive. However, this past Tuesday they lost dramatically on penalties at Hampden against Airdrie after a 3-3 draw. With all that taken into consideration the Spiders’ chances of going through were extremely thin and depended on results elsewhere. The Jags, on the other hand, knew exactly what they had to do, a win seeing them top the group and earn a seeding. With the league season approaching quickly, it was sure to be an intriguing encounter.
The Thistle team made four changes from the win over Stenhousemuir. Tomas Cerny made his return from injury as David Crawford dropped to the bench. Danny Devine replaced David Syme while Erskine and Wilson came in for Pogba and Amoo. Alan Archibald reverted back to the trusty 4-2-3-1 formation today despite utilising a 4-4-2 set-up on Tuesday night.
Sean Welsh led the men in Red and Yellow onto the pitch for his 100th competitive appearance since first joining on loan in 2012. It was Kris Doolan who got proceedings underway at Firhill with Thistle shooting towards the North Stand.
Thistle were looking good in the opening few minutes but it was the visitors who had the first big chance. Queen’s Park managed to find space on the wing and a good cross to the front post found the head of Aiden Malone who had his attempt saved terrifically by the returning Tomas Cerny at close range. The save ended up being crucial as just one minute later a fantastically judged long ball from Sean Welsh found Chris Erskine, who managed to head the ball over the Queen’s keeper and into the back of the net, scoring his first headed goal for Thistle since January 2013. The goal set the tone for the match as Thistle began to take control of the game.
Five minutes later Archibald’s men had another chance as Ziggy Gordon cut onto his left foot inside the box before putting a curling effort just off target. A couple of minutes later the lead could have been extended again as the ball bounced off a defender into the path of goal scorer, Chris Erskine, who had his shot blocked by a sliding Queen’s Park man.
The next big chance would fall the way of the Spiders. A free kick from the Jags’ right hand side was headed towards goal but Cerny was once again alert as he made a smart save down to his left. After that good chances were few and far between. The next clear-cut opportunity fell to Kris Doolan in the 38th minute as he was picked out by Liam Lindsay, he shifted the ball onto his weaker right-foot before having his shot saved by Andrew Murphy.
The game reached half-time at 1-0. The Jags had been in complete control for the majority of the first 45 minutes, however, Queen’s Park had managed to muster two great chances with limited possession and Alan Archibald would have been looking for fewer moments of shakiness from his team.
Aiden Malone kicked off the second half as the men in Black and White looked to get back into the game. Six minutes in Thistle’s first change was made. David Amoo replaced Ryan Edwards who had been running non-stop all game. Amoo made a big impact on the game as, just minutes later, an excellent dinked cross by the Englishman found the onrushing David Wilson who was looking for his first senior goal but he headed it off target, when perhaps he should have scored.
Ade Azeez came on for Steven Lawless as Thistle looked to retake control of a game that was well in the balance as it approached the hour mark. David Galt, who works for Partick Thistle’s own Community Trust during the week, had the next chance as the ball was laid off by Adam Cummins but he dragged it wide of Cerny’s goal.
David Amoo continued to cause the opposition problems as he picked out Ade Azeez with a cross, but Azeez headed the ball against the bar under heavy pressure from a defender. The Jags then made their final change as Mathias Pogba replaced Kris Doolan. The game wouldn’t stay 1-0 for much longer.
Chris Erskine found himself on corner duty in the 78th minute, he hit the cross towards the back post and perfectly landed the ball on the head of Liam Lindsay, who headed the ball powerfully into the back of the net. It was the defender’s first goal since netting away against Dundee in a 1-1 draw last November.
The home side weren’t content with a two-goal margin though and made some great forward play with David Amoo looking comfortable on the ball. The wide midfielder then played the ball square to Ade Azeez who had most of the goal to aim at. Unfortunately for him a sensational diving save by Spiders’ ‘keeper, Andrew Murphy, denied him his first Firhill goal.
The final chance of the match fell to Ewan MacPherson. The substitute found space in the box and was picked out with a cross by Ross Millen, but the number 19 MacPherson could only direct his header over the bar. And that would be all as Andrew Dallas blew the final whistle.
Overall, Thistle had been in control for most of the match. Tomas Cerny made an impressive return to the starting line-up, making two crucial in the first 45. Captain, Sean Welsh, had another stand-out performance in the midfield as he provided the assist for Chris Erskine’s opener. Erskine himself played excellently grabbing a goal and an assist.
The Jags can now look forward to the next stage of the Betfred Cup. The draw will be made tomorrow afternoon following Dundee United’s clash with Dunfermline.
Thistle’s next fixture is against Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Firhill on August 6, in the opening game of the 2016/17 league campaign.