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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

St Johnstone v Partick Thistle – 11th February 2017

After a disappointing defeat to Aberdeen last Saturday, Partick Thistle would look to bounce back as they travelled to Perth to face St. Johnstone attempting to reach their first Scottish Cup quarter-final since 2008. The game fell just ten days after the last meeting with the Saints where Tommy Wright’s men took three points home from Firhill in the Ladbrokes Premiership.

It was an injury stricken squad that Alan Archibald had to choose a starting eleven from with no recognised full backs available. As such, it was a different set up for the Jags with a number of players in unfamiliar positions. At the base of the defence there were three centre-halves. Niall Keown, Liam Lindsay and Daniel Devine were the trio at the back. Abdul Osman and Adam Barton made a solid pairing in the middle of the park while Ryan Edwards and Sean Welsh played at right and left wing back respectively. The attackers formed a front three as David Amoo started on the right, Steven Lawless on the left and Ade Azeez through the middle. Considering that some of the squad had only a day or two of training in the new system, it would be interesting to see whether the team could work as a cohesive unit.

It certainly wasn’t a slow start to the game as just seven minutes in the match had an opener. Sean Welsh was able to intercept a high pass and head into the path of Steven Lawless on the left. The wide midfielder then got his head up and picked out Adam Barton who was making a storming run into the box. The pass found the former Portsmouth man and he calmly slotted past Zander Clark to make it 1-0. The goal was Barton’s second for Thistle and his first in cup competition.

Three minutes later, it could have been 2-0 as Ade Azeez picked up the ball 25 yards from goal. He shuffled it onto his right foot before shooting from 5 yards outside the box. The shot deflected off a defender but the shot still seemed goal-bound. Zander Clark was scrambling across his goal but fortunately for him it spun just wide.

In the 20th minute, Saints dangerman Danny Swanson had a chance to level things. A cross came in from the home side’s left flank which Niall Keown got a head to but the loanee’s clearance fell to Swanson just outside the 18-yard box. He took a touch before shooting low but his shot flew just past Tomas Cerny’s right-hand post.

The Jags next chance fell to Liam Lindsay a minute before the break. Stand-in wing back Sean Welsh swung a corner into the hosts’ box which was met by Lindsay. Unfortunately, the number 5 could not get his head over the ball and his effort went over the bar.

Thistle still had one more opportunity left in them before the interval. As St. Johnstone continued to search for an equaliser, the visitors were able to catch them on the counter. Ryan Edwards fed the ball into David Amoo who then ran into the box skipping between two defenders. As he got closer and closer to goal he shot from ten yards out. It was a run that merited a goal but Zander Clark was there to deny Amoo his first goal since the opening day of the league season as he raised an arm instinctively, turning the ball behind.

That’s how things would stay going into half-time. Alan Archibald’s men would be happy with their performance so far but would be feeling disappointed that they were only one goal ahead. St. Johnstone had struggled to pick apart the Jags’ defence and as such decided to make a half-time switch. Blair Alston was brought on in place of David Wotherspoon to try to give the Saints more going forward down the right.

It took six minutes for the second half to see its first chance and that chance fell to Sean Welsh. Adam Barton played a smart pass inside to Welsh who had made his way from left wing back to his more familiar midfield terrain. He then took aim and tried a curling effort from 35 yards but it ended up just wide, not forcing Clark into a save.

A minute after Welsh’s attempt, the home team had an opportunity of their own. A ball that was in the air fell to Steven MacLean who elected not to take a touch but rather to volley towards goal. The dipping attempt looked like it had a chance of hitting the target but it looped just over Cerny’s bar to the annoyance of the home support.

The best half of the second half so far fell a minute short of the hour mark. Sean Welsh whipped a dangerous looking free kick into the box where the Jags’ biggest aerial threats were waiting. It found Liam Lindsay who was able to keep his header down this time. Zander Clark pulled off another good save but the danger wasn’t clear. The ball dropped to David Amoo who stood ten yards out. The Englishman’s attempt was rushed and was blocked by a Saints’ defender who was already prone following the previous kerfuffle in the box, allowing Clark to collect safely.

With 11 minutes remaining on the clock, the hosts had their best chance of the match up until this point. Richard Foster cut back onto his left foot from the right flank before laying the ball infield to Blair Alston. The substitute tried to find the far corner with his right foot but it was always curling the wrong way and missed the target by a yard or so.

With six minutes left of the regulation 90, Thistle made their only substitution of the game. Ade Azeez was the man to be withdrawn and when his number went up, there was a standing ovation for the striker who had given it everything he had today, being a big part of the team’s solid performance. He was replaced by Kris Doolan.

The Saintees had one last chance to take Thistle to a replay at Firhill. Richard Foster once again found space on the right wing where he lifted a ball towards Chris Kane. The substitute then tried to find the top corner with an acrobatic attempt but the shot flew just over the bar.

As the game came to a close, the fourth official showed that there would be four minutes of additional time. At this point St. Johnstone knew that it was last chance saloon. However, despite their best efforts, the Perthshire side couldn’t create any clear cut chances and the travelling Jags were able to see out the game.

he away support went into hysteria as Thistle secured a Scottish Cup quarter-final place for the first time in nine years. An unconventional line-up proved to be a winning one as both wing backs had great games considering their unusual surroundings. Adam Barton and Abdul Osman were rock solid in midfield, controlling the game for around 70 minutes and Ade Azeez put in an incredible shift upfront causing uncertainty among the Saints ranks.

The quarter-final draw presented a tough task with formidable opponents in the shape of Aberdeen lying in wait. The tie will take place in early March.

The Maryhill side now look forward to a Firhill meeting with Hamilton on Saturday the 18th with kick-off at 3:00pm as they continue search for their first league goals and win of 2017.

THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, Keown, Devine, Lindsay, Welsh, Edwards, Barton, Osman, Amoo, Lawless, Azeez (Doolan, 84’).

THISTLE SUBS (N/U): Ridgers, McCarthy, Banton, Erskine, Nisbet.

ST. JOHNSTONE TEAM: Clark, Easton, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Foster, Wotherspoon (Alston, HT), Millar (Craig, 73’), Davidson, Cummins (Cummins, 73’), Swanson, MacLean.

ST. JOHNSTONE SUBS (N/U): Mannus, Scobbie, Paton, Watson.

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