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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Ross County v Partick Thistle – 9th September 2017

Today, Partick Thistle travelled north in search of their first league points of the season having suffered four Ladbrokes Premiership losses in a row to start the season against Hibs, Celtic, St. Johnstone and Aberdeen. An encouraging performance against Aberdeen which saw them score three times showed that the Jags still have the quality in their ranks to find the net after scoring just once in the three matches prior to the clash with the Dons. They took on a Ross County side coming off the back of a less encouraging defeat at home to Rangers, 3-1.

There were two changes to the team who fell to defeat against Aberdeen last time out. Niall Keown missed out after picking up a red card in that game and he was replaced by Daniel Devine who made his first league start since the opening weekend of the season. Chris Erskine dropped to the bench with Ryan Edwards coming into the starting line-up. Devine came in to play alongside Jordan Turnbull, in front of Tomas Cerny in goal. Milan Nitriansky and Christie Elliot were the full-backs while Adam Barton and Stuart Bannigan started in central midfield with Abdul Osman unable to make the squad. Conor Sammon and Blair Spittal were Thistle’s widemen as Ryan Edwards began the game in behind Kris Doolan. On the bench there were plenty of options for Alan Archibald. Chris Erskine, Steven Lawless, Kevin Nisbet and Miles Storey all offered a threat from the dugout if called upon.

Ross County started the game sharply, creating a number of half chances for Davis Keillor-Dunn, Michael Gardyne and Thomas Mikkelsen. On one occasion, Mikkelsen found space on the flank and found Keillor-Dunn with a cross. The youngster headed back across goal, beating Tomas Cerny but Daniel Devine was on hand to clear the ball off the line.

The Jags’ first chance of the match came in the tenth minute when after a quick turnover of possession, Blair Spittal had the chance to attack the County box. He drove towards the Staggies area, however, opted to shoot before he got there. His attempt was on target and powerful but County ‘stopper, Aaron McCarey, got two hands to it and turned it behind.

Blair Spittal had been Thistle’s biggest threat of the opening stages, looking dangerous on the ball, never more so than when he netted the opener in the 22nd minute. The Jags won a throw on the right sideline and Kris Doolan spotted a smart Spittal run and found him with a quick throw. Spittal found himself in the box suddenly and shot on the slide. His effort went low past McCarey, nestling into the corner. The goal was his fourth in Thistle colours and his first of the league season.

County created a couple more chances despite falling behind with Mikkelsen twice threating to latch onto deep crosses. As if the relentless opposition pressure wasn’t enough, the Jags faced another challenge when Thistle no. 1, Tomas Cerny, picked up an injury and was forced off in the 29th minute. Ryan Scully was called into action for his first appearance since last September.

The teams went into the break with the score at 1-0. Thistle had been massively outplayed for much of the opening period but somehow took a lead into the interval. Blair Spittal’s sliding finish was all that separated the sides. From a Ross County point of view, they would have been looking for more of the same but with a more clinical flavour. From the Jags’ perspective, they probably would be looking to defend strongly and get on the ball more.

It took just one minute for Thistle to threaten in the second 45. Ryan Edwards picked up the ball around the halfway line and burst forward. He then let fly from 35 yards with his shot on target. It was moving plenty and had McCarey worried but the ex-Wolves goalkeeper did enough to turn it away.

After that quick flash of action at the County end, the game reverted to Staggie dominance. The hosts almost equalised in the 51st minute through Thomas Mikklesen. The Dane was picked out by Ross Draper’s low cross and he tried to beat Scully with a first time shot. He got his shot away but Daniel Devine threw himself in front of it to deflect it away. The ball spun into the air and fell to Davis Keillor-Dunn. The youth prospect took it on the volley but lashed his effort past the near post.

With 21 minutes left to play, Ross County came close to a leveller. Some clever and quick play ten yards outside the Jags area got Alex Schalk into the box in space. County’s number ten shot low at the near post but Ryan Scully got down well to it and collected the ball after the save.

The home side had another opportunity three minutes later when Billy McKay got on the end of a flick on and turned his marker. He had a clear shot on goal but made a hash of the finish, failing to catch it properly, and his effort was easily saved by Ryan Scully.

In the final 20 minutes Alan Archibald made two changes to try to inject some energy into a tiring frontline. Firstly, Kris Doolan was replaced by Miles Storey in the 73rd minute and then Chris Erskine came on for Stuart Bannigan with nine minutes left.

In the end, County’s relentless pressure finally produced a goal in the 85th minute and it came from 12 yards. A fairly aimless ball into the box caused a great commotion that led to Jordan Turnbull upending Alex Schalk. The man who won the penalty then took it and he made no mistake, sending Scully the wrong way and levelling things in the Highlands.

There would be one last chance in the match and it fell for Ross County. Michael Gardyne swung a deep cross towards the back post finding Ross Draper. The ex-Inverness man then headed on goal, looking for the top corner at the near post. His header was arrowing towards the goal but Ryan Scully turned it behind with an outstretched arm to ensure Thistle would at least come away with a point.

The game ended 1-1 and the Jags grabbed their first point of the league season. A good point up in the highlands but a point that must no doubt feel like it should have been three. The late equaliser was a dagger through Thistle hearts but there were positives to be taken going into an action-packed seven days next week.

The Jags now turn their attentions to Rangers, this coming Friday. The Gers will be going into that game off the back of an impressive 4-1 win over Dundee today and wo’t want to allow Thistle their first Ladbrokes Premiership victory of the campaign. The game kicks off at 19:45 from Firhill.

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