Wednesday 7th October, 2020 at 11:59pm
After more than six months without a competitive fixture, Partick Thistle returned to action with a trip to Paisley to take on St. Mirren in their first game of the Betfred Cup group stages.
The Jags were looking to cause an early season upset against the Premiership side who already had two months of league football under their belt.
The Jags included a number of their summer signings in the matchday squad of 20 with Rhys Breen, Ross Docherty and Connor Murray making their first starts for the clubs while Blair Spittal, Ciaran McKenna, Charlie Reilly and Salim Kouider-Aissa had to settle for spots on the bench.
St. Mirren had the first shot on target of the game as Jon Obika broke away from his marker and fired a low shot goalwards, however, Sneddon got his body safely behind the ball and gathered at the second attempt.
The Jags then had a chance of their own as the ball fell in the midfield following a Jamie Sneddon long ball. Stuart Bannigan was first to it and he poked it towards Connor Murray and the number 17 hit a first-time pass perfectly into the path of Shea Gordon who was breaking forward. Gordon took the ball in his stride and tried to fire across Jak Alnwick with his left foot but the ex-Rangers ‘stopper was able to parry away from danger.
After 15 minutes, Thistle went close again this time through Brian Graham. A Joe Cardle free-kick was swung into the box, in the direction of the number nine and, after a slightly fortunate deflection, the ball fell to Graham. He then prodded the ball past the goalkeeper only for Marcus Fraser to clear the ball off the line as the striker was getting ready to celebrate his first goal of the 2020/21 campaign.
The game to and froed from that point with both sides creating a few half-chances. Connor Murray saw a low shot from the right side of the box saved while Marcus Fraser charged forward at the other end to force Jamie Sneddon into a relatively comfortable save.
With ten minutes left of the first period, the away side missed another opportunity to break the deadlock. Ross Docherty gained possession inside the Jags’ half before playing a one-two with Brian Graham and feeding it through to Stuart Bannigan who suddenly found himself in behind the hosts’ backline. Unfortunately, as he set himself to shoot he was tackled by the recovering Richard Tait who had burst a gut to get back and stop the number eight’s advances.
Tait was at the centre of things once again in the final minute of the half as he gave his side the lead from a corner kick. It was Jamie McGrath delivering the ball and he lifted it in towards the front post area where Tait had just peeled off his man and was able to stoop down and head past Jamie Sneddon leaving Ian McCall’s side a goal down despite a positive showing in the opening 45.
The travelling Jags didn’t seem too disheartened though and went close to a leveller four minutes after the restart. Connor Murray chased down Marcus Fraser and blocked the defender’s pass which then fell to Brian Graham and after a few short passes the striker was able to deliver a ball into the box. Shea Gordon was the man he was aiming for but the ball just skipped away from the Northern Irishman and out for a goal kick.
St. Mirren had a good chance to double their lead on 66 minutes as Jamie McGrath received the ball at the edge of the Jags box, deciding to take a shot when he saw the defenders sitting off slightly. His low drive towards the near post looked goal bound but rebounded off the foot of the post, landing at the feet of a Thistle man and Jim Goodwin’s side were left ruing that guilt-edged chance as the visitors went up the other end and scored almost immediately.
A long ball forward was initially gathered by the home side but was recovered by Brian Graham and fed to recently introduced re-debutant Blair Spittal. The on-loan midfielder then squared the ball to Stuart Bannigan and he was able to find Connor Murray who cut inside and tried a shot but it was blocked. Fortunately for the Maryhill men it went straight to Blair Spittal who set himself before firing a drilled effort across goal and into the far corner having only signed earlier that day.
However, to the dismay of the Firhill side, parity was short-lived as the Buddies regained the advantage eight minutes later. Kyle MacAllister got the ball deep in the defensive half but carried it forward and fell a fantastic ball into the path of Jon Obika and the former Tottenham youth cut inside before firing it into the near corner.
Things got worse for Thistle in the 81st minute when the Buddies added a third. After an initial corner was cleared, Thistle gave the ball away allowing a high ball to come into the box again. Jamie Sneddon moved to punch the ball but lost the flight of it and as the ball dropped in the six-yard box, Rhys Breen was only able to slice it into his own net with St. Mirren quickly taking command of the closing stages.
Then straight from kick-off, the Paisley side were gifted another goal as a moment of miscommunication between James Penrice and Rhys Breen saw Dylan Connolly breaking in behind onto a loose ball and the former Cork City man bent his effort confidently beyond the goalkeeper to put a bit of gloss on the scoreline.
As a consequence, it finished 4-1 to the Buddies with their head-start in match fitness proving crucial during the last 15 minutes of the contest. Ultimately, the score was slightly flattering for the hosts with Thistle creating a good amount of opportunities and matching their opponents for most of the game, however, the Jags didn’t take those chances and suffered as a result, coming away with no points from their first group stage game.