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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

St Johnstone v Partick Thistle – 13th May 2017

Since securing their top six finish with a win over Motherwell, Partick Thistle have failed to win a game. A draw in Edinburgh against Hearts with a defeat by Rangers on either side of the Jambos clash. The Jags travelled to Perth next, trying to show that they can compete with fellow top half sides. They faced St. Johnstone, who were looking to secure fourth place and with it, a European spot.

Thistle returned to a three centre-half formation with Daniel Devine coming back from suspension. Ade Azeez also came into the starting line-up with Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless dropping to the bench. Adam Barton, Abdul Osman and Ryan Edwards created a triangle in the midfield, behind the strike force of Azeez and Kris Doolan.

The game started slowly with both teams struggling to get the ball down and play. The surface was slippery and that was causing a few players some problems as men on both teams lost their footing on a number of occasions. Despite this, the hosts did have a chance seven minutes in. The ball fell to Liam Craig on the edge of the box and the number 26 shot towards the far corner. Fortunately for the away team, his attempt was well wide of the post.

After 14 minutes, the Jags had a chance of their own. A bit of miscommunication between two Saints defenders allowed Ryan Edwards to nip in behind the St. Johnstone backline. The Australian broke into the box and shot from a tight angle but his attempt was saved with ease by Alan Mannus.

After their first chance of the game, Alan Archibald’s side almost found themselves behind, two minutes later. A low free kick was fired in from just outside the box and although it seemed that someone would try to touch it on the way to goal, no one did. The attempt looked like it was going to nestle into the bottom corner but Tomas Cerny made a strong, one-handed save down to his right-hand side, keeping the score level.

At this point, it felt like the sides were trading blows and in the 21st minute it was Thistle’s turn to threaten. A Ryan Edwards shot was partially blocked and flew high into the air. The Australian then ran to the ball and won an aerial challenge with a St. Johnstone defender. His touch took the ball towards Adam Barton and the ex-Portsmouth man headed on goal. Unfortunately for the travelling Jags fans at the other end of McDiarmid Park, they saw the attempt go marginally wide of the post.

The home side went close again on the half hour mark when Danny Swanson shot from range. His shot skipped up off the wet surface and Tomas Cerny couldn’t hold and had to block the effort with his chest. Thankfully for the Czech ‘stopper, Daniel Devine was on hand to clear the loose ball.

Thistle wouldn’t be able to breathe for long as the hosts were awarded a penalty in the 32nd minute. Graham Cummins was played forward after Abdul Osman was dispossessed in the middle of the park and he laid the ball off for Danny Swanson. Swanson then skipped past Niall Keown but the centre-half stuck a leg out and tripped the winger in the box. Stephen Finnie was convinced that there was contact and pointed to the spot and it was the man who won it that took it. Swanson stepped up and slotted home. Tomas Cerny went the right way but Swanson’s spot kick was tucked right into the bottom corner out of the goalkeeper’s reach.

An Ade Azeez half chance was the only sight of goal for either team between the opener and the interval but the Englishman’s attempt was collected comfortably by Alan Mannus in the St. Johnstone goal.

So that was how it stayed, heading into half-time with St. Johnstone leading. Neither team had taken the game by the scruff of the neck but you would have said that Tommy Wright’s side had probably edged it. The Jags had struggled to create much in the first 45 with creative outlets, Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless, on the bench and the pair were brought on at half time, replacing Ade Azeez and Daniel Devine.

Ten minutes after the restart, the deficit would have been doubled had it not been for Tomas Cerny. Liam Craig launched a teasing ball into the Thistle area that Tam Scobbie got on the end of. The ex-Falkirk defender headed on goal but Cerny was able to turn the ball over the bar brilliantly with a strong arm above his head.

As the Jags chased the game, Callum Booth saw a right-footed shot saved by Mannus after a lay-off by Erskine and Kevin Nisbet was brought on in place of the booked Ryan Edwards to try to add some danger in the attacking third.

Despite this change, it was Saints who almost grabbed a goal. Danny Swanson picked up the ball on the left wing and moved inside, towards the box. As Niall Keown jockeyed, the winger shifted onto his left foot and shot but Tomas Cerny tipped the ball over the crossbar magnificently to keep the score at 1-0.

Liam Lindsay also went close, with 12 minutes to go. He met a Callum Booth corner, heading towards the far corner but Liam Craig was well-positioned and headed behind, off the line.

That would be Thistle’s last chance of the game as St. Johnstone used their ability to see out games to great effect. They took the ball to the corner flag on a number of occasions and ran the clock down expertly, seeing the match finish 1-0.

This meant that the Jags slumped to a fourth straight game without victory and in the process, damaged any remaining hopes of catching Hearts in fifth place. They continue a disappointing end to a historic season for the club. Alan Archibald’s side mustn’t dwell on the loss and now turn their attentions to Celtic. The Hoops visit Firhill on Thursday evening with kick-off at 19:45.

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