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Match Report

Stranraer v Partick Thistle – 14th August 2018

Partick Thistle kicked off their 2018/19 Irn Bru Cup campaign with a trip to Stranraer this evening. The Jags travelled to Stair Park to take on the Blues for the first time since May 2006 with cup progression the sole aim.

Alan Archibald made five changes to the side which beat Falkirk at the weekend with the squad being rotated for the clash. In goals, Jamie Sneddon started his first Thistle game with Cammy Bell dropping to the bench. Christie Elliott, Tam O’Ware and Sean McGinty all retained their places in defence while Max Melbourne came in at left-back with James Penrice moving into the middle of the park. Alongside Penrice, Craig Slater and Jack Storer completed the midfield. Across the front was Aidan Fitzpatrick, Kris Doolan and new siging Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo.

Thistle started on top but it was the hosts who came close first. In the ninth minute, Sean McGinty missed a tackle and that allowed Stranraer to attack the Jags goal in a three-on-one situation. David Smith decided to take on the shot and the number 17’s right-footed attempt seemed destined for the bottom corner but Jamie Sneddon reached out a right hand to turn the ball round the post.

It didn’t take the Jags long to take the lead, thereafter, capitalising on their early dominance. Craig Slater won a corner for the away side and proceeded to take it. He swung the delivery into the danger area and Thistle defender, Tam O’Ware stooped to meet it. His header went towards the far post and snuck in past the Stranraer goalkeeper as the ex-Morton man bagged his first goal as a Jag.

The Maryhill men went on to double their lead in the 34th minute as young winger, Aidan Fitzpatrick grabbed a goal on his first start as a senior player. The number 21 used some delightful trickery to evade his marker before firing a low shot past Max Currie. The goal moved Aidan onto two goals from five appearances as the youngster confidently found the bottom corner.

Just one minute after the lead doubling goal, the visitors had a third. The play began with Jack Storer carrying the ball forward into the Stranraer half and passing the ball to Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo. The Belgian-born winger then laid the ball to Craig Slater who fed it to Aidan Fitzpatrick. Aidan then shifted the ball and drove a low ball across goal finding Mutombo who simply tapped home from a couple of yards. The goal is a debut one for Andréa and gets him off the mark in Jags colours.

At half-time, one change was made as Blair Spittal replaces Craig Slater who was ill. Overall, the Jags could be extremely happy with a fairly simple first half. Three goals and a solid defensive display meant the game was surely all but over by the break.

On the hour mark, Kris Doolan should have made it four for the Jags. Blair Spittal did excellently to break away from Mark Lamont and cross the ball into the six yard box. Thistle’s number nine, Doolan met the ball but failed to hit the target from five yards.

The Jags then made two quick fire substitutions as Callum Wilson and Chris Erskine replaced Jack Storer and Andréa Mutombo respectively.

With the game coming to an end, there was still plenty of action to come at Stair Park. In the 82nd minute a short backpass put Max Currie in serious danger and the goalkeeper wiped out Kris Doolan who had beaten him to the ball, just outside the box. The referee brandished the red card and Stranraer used their final change to bring on their spare ‘keeper, Kyle Avci.

With the hosts now down to ten men, the Jags were merciless as they added to their lead. First of all, Christie Elliott whipped a cross in from the right which was looking for Kris Doolan. The delivery didn’t find Kris but would fall to Max Melbourne who, after setting himself, slammed into an unguarded net. Max was playing his second Thistle game and capped it off with his first goal in senior football.

There was yet more misery for Stranraer to come as Thistle made it 5-0 in the 90th minute. Chris Erskine was the creator as the number ten slid a ball through to Aidan Fitzpatrick who took one touch before slotting home a second of the night at the near post. The goal put him top of the Partick Thistle scoring charts for the 2018/19 season and put a bold exclamation mark at the end of a satisfying performance.

The referee ended the game at 5-0 and with cup advancement secured, it was very much job done for the Thistle side. The draw for the next round of the Irn Bru Cup takes place on Thursday at 13:00 with trips to England, Ireland and Wales all possible for the Jags.

For now, Alan Archibald’s side turn their attentions to Saturday’s Betfred Cup tie against treble-winning Celtic with a quarter-final place up for grabs. Kick-off is at 12:30 from the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill.

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