Sunday 14th April, 2019 at 1:33pm
Following a thrilling 2-2 draw with Dunfermline Athletic in Glasgow, a trip to Dingwall faced Partick Thistle as they looked to take points off the league-leading Ross County contingent for the first time this season. Due to Dundee United’s victory over Ayr the day before, the Staggies weren’t able to secure the Championship title against Thistle but a win would represent a huge step towards their immediate return to Premiership football. On the other hand, the Jags were still battling at the bottom of the table with five teams scrapping to avoid the ninth and tenth positions.
There were three changes made by Gary Caldwell with all of them enforced. First of all, the ill Conor Hazard dropped to the bench to be replaced by Jamie Sneddon. Similar was true of Steven Saunders who could only make the subs due to sickness. As such, Jack McMillan moved into the back three alongside Steven Anderson and Sean McGinty with Christie Elliott retunring from injury at right wing-back on the opposite flank to James Penrice. In midfield, with Stuart Bannigan serving the first game of a two-match ban, Craig Slater was recalled to the starting line-up with Shea Gordon and Blair Spittal helping him out in the Jags engine room. Up front it was the partnership of Kris Doolan and Scott McDonald once again as the experienced duo looked to continue their fruitful partnership.
The match started slowly with neither team really taking control or creating very much of anything until the 16th minute when Scott Fox was forced into his first action of the game. Some quick passing got James Penrice into some space on the Jags’ left and he directed a cross into the danger area where Shea Gordon was making a run. He struck the ball on the volley but failed to meet it sweetly, allowing Fox to get down and make a save.
The visitors had another good opportunity to open the scoring a minute past the half hour mark through Blair Spittal. Christie Elliott fed the ball into Kris Doolan’s feet and the number nine laid it off for Scott McDonald who then fed Spittal on the left. The number seven then cut past one challenge and then another and then a third before taking aim but unfortunately the team top scorer dragged his effort well wide of the target.
Then, in the second half, County had probably their biggest moment of the match as Ross Stewart went down looking for a penalty. A loose ball in the Jags’ box was left by Jamie Sneddon meaning Steven Anderson had to scrabble over to clear it. Stewart managed to get past him on the blindside and the big man hit the deck after a tangle of legs. Had the spot kick been given, it would have meant County had been awarded a penalty in every game against Thistle this season, however, Gavin Duncan waved play on.
The away side then committed their first substitution of the afternoon as Aidan Fitzpatrick replaced Shea Gordon with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The change almost paid off too in the 82nd minute as in the second phase of a free-kick won by Fitzpatrick, the ball fell for Steven Anderson in the box. The centre-half struck the ball on the half-volley but saw his attempt parried away by former Thistle ‘stopper, Scott Fox. Miles Storey came on for Kris Doolan shortly thereafter.
That Anderson chance proved to be the final one of the game as the two teams fought to a goalless draw with the point not enough to keep Thistle off the foot of the table when results elsewhere are factored in.
Next up for the Jags is a home clash with Alloa Athletic next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.
PARTICK THISTLE TEAM: Sneddon, Penrice, McGinty, Anderson, McMillan, Elliott, Slater, Gordon (Fitzpatrick, 75’), Spittal, Doolan (Storey, 83’), McDonald.
UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Hazard, Saunders, Cardle, Coulibaly, Mansell.
ROSS COUNTY TEAM: Fox, Kelly, Grivosti, Doyle, Fraser, Cowie, Lindsay, Spence (Graham, 58’), Mullin, Gardyne, Stewart (McManus, 76’).
UNUSED SUBS (RCO): Munro, Fontaine, Paton, Armstrong, Murray.