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Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

St Johnstone v Partick Thistle – 27th January 2018

Having returned to league action with a defeat by Celtic during the week, Partick Thistle travelled to St. Johnstone in search of their first Ladbrokes Premiership away win of the season this afternoon. The Jags were looking to widen the gap between themselves and the league’s bottom club, Ross County, who play tomorrow.

Alan Archibald made five changes to the side who lost narrowly to the Scottish champions on Tuesday as he stuck with the four-at-the-back system. Tomas Cerny remained in goals while Paul McGinn and Callum Booth came in at either side of the defence, replacing James Penrice and Mustapha Dumbuya. For Booth, it represented his first league start since the Jags played the Perthshire Saints at McDiarmid Park in August. Jags skipper, Abdul Osman retainer his place in the midfield, however, he would be partnered by the returning Martin Woods this afternoon as Andrew McCarthy dropped out of the squad. Chris Erskine came in for Ryan Edwards in the number 10 role and Steven Lawless came in for Blair Spittal on the wing. Miles Storey started on the opposite side of the pitch with the in-form Conor Sammon up front looking to score in a fourth consecutive game.

Due to consecutive postponements of their Scottish Cup fourth round tie, St. Johnstone hadn’t played a competitive game since the end of 2017. This seemed to be affecting the Saints as they started slowly and the visitors almost took advantage within the opening minute. Good play on the Jags’ left by Miles Storey led to Chris Erskine receiving the ball on the edge of the box, wide of the goal. He played a low ball across the six yard box looking for a teammate to tap home. Conor Sammon came close to getting a touch but couldn’t quite reach it, however, it did come towards Niall Keown at the back stick. Unfortunately for the number five, he couldn’t bag a third goal of the season as Steven Anderson made an excellent last ditch tackle to turn the ball off Keown for a goal kick.

Thistle would capitalise on their good start, though, in the 12th minute as Steven Lawless struck for the away side. Once again it was Miles Storey causing all the problems for Thistle as his quick play got him to the by-line. He then cut the ball back to Steven Lawless who stood in plenty of space as he curled home as left-footed shot from close range. The goal represented the winger’s first in the league this season and the Jags’ first away league goal since Chris Erskine scored at Rugby Park in early December.

Having fallen behind in the 12th minute, the hosts thought they were level in the 14th. David Wotherspoon whipped an in-swinging free kick in from the Saints’ left wing and the delivery skipped right through, into the net. However, the Perth side weren’t allowed much time for celebrations as the referee blew for a foul on Niall Keown in the Thistle area.

The game quickly died down for a 20 minute period after the chalked off goal and it took until the 39th minute for another opportunity to present itself. With six minutes left of the first half, Chris Erskine found Conor Sammon with a lofted pass. The Irishman brought the ball down before bending an effort on goal with his left foot but his curled effort went just past Zander Clark’s right-hand post.

That chance would prove to be the last of the first 45 minutes as Thistle made it to the break with their one goal lead intact. Both teams had plenty of the ball but goalmouth action was scarce in the first period. Both teams would surely be looking to improve in the final third for the second half.

The visiting Thistle side came close to a lead-doubler just five minutes into the second 45 through man-on-form, Conor Sammon. January acquisition, Baily Cargill marched out of defence with the ball at his feet before back-heeling it to Chris Erskine. The midfielder then looked to fire a shot goalward but he scuffed the attempt. Fortunately for Erskine, his mis-hit effort came the way of Sammon. The ex-Derby County man poked a toe at the ball and got the ball on target but his shot was weak and easy for Clark to save and hold.

As the energy seemed to be fading in the Thistle team, Alan Archibald made a change to re-energise his side and who better than Ryan Edwards to do exactly that? The Australian midfielder came on for Chris Erskine on the hour mark and his impact was instant as he set up a goal just three minutes after coming on.

The move all began with Callum Booth driving in-field from the left and playing the ball to Steven Lawless. Thistle’s goalscorer then fed the ball towards Conor Sammon who failed to control. Luckily for Sammon, the ball skipped through to Ryan Edwards in behind the St. Johnstone defence and the number 19 picked out Sammon with a cut-back. Conor was then left with the simple task of tapping home from close range which he gladly completed making it five goals in four matches for the Hearts loanee.

Just as it seemed Thistle were set to maintain their consolidated lead and see out the game, the Perthshire Saints were offered a route back into the match. A high ball over the Thistle defence caused plenty of problems and as the ball bounced towards the Jags’ goal, Tomas Cerny wiped out David McMillan with a high challenge. As a consequence, the referee pointed to the spot and Cerny was booked for the foul. Liam Craig stepped up to take the spot kick and the experienced midfielder made no mistakes from 12 yards, burying it in the Thistle net.

The goal set up a nervy end to the match for the Maryhill men and Adam Barton came on for Steven Lawless in the 83rd minute to bolster the away side’s defence. However, a slack bit of play from the substitute almost allowed St. Johnstone to equalise. The number 13 was dispossessed by Chris Kane in the defensive third of the pitch and Kane proceeded to fire a volley towards goal. His shot was powerful but, in the end, veered wide of the far post.

The pressure continued building on the visitors’ backline but that pressure was lifted in the third of five added minutes when Ryan Edwards restored Thistle’s two goal advantage. Conor Sammon’s aerial battling led to the ball dropping to the Australian who powered through the challenge of Chris Millar, allowing him a clear run on goal with the hosts’ backline all out of position. Edwards sprinted into the box and ignored the options to his right, slotting the ball past Zander Clark and making it 3-1, securing the three points in injury time.

The referee would then blow for full time with the score at 3-1 as Thistle achieved victory on the road for the first time of the league season. The win moves the Jags to within three points of today’s opposition and six points clear of Ross County in bottom spot.

Alan Archibald’s side now build-up to a trip to Motherwell next Saturday. Kick-off is 15:00 from Fir Park.

THISTLE TEAM: Cerny, McGinn, Keown, Cargill, Booth, Osman, Woods, Lawless (Barton, 82’), Erskine (Edwards, 60’), Storey, Sammon.

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Scully, Devine, Dumbuya, Spittal, Doolan.

ST. JOHNSTONE TEAM: Clark, Comrie, Anderson, Shaughnessy, Watson, Scougal, Millar, Craig, Wotherspoon, MacLean (Kane, 56’), Johnstone [McMillan, 56’ (Alston, 77’)].

UNUSED SUBS (STJ): Mannus, Gordon, Kerr, McClean.

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