Friday 10th March, 2017 at 8:05am
Yes, it all came down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Love them or loathe them, I reckon they will remain part of our game for a very long time to come. Anyway, let’s have a look at how the game ended all square after 120 minutes and then identify the heroes who held their nerve when it came to the defining spot-kicks.
Ace marksman Mark Roberts, scorer of more than half a century of goals for Thistle, opened the scoring after 15 minutes. It’s worth mentioning also, that it was thanks to his last-minute penalty-kick up at the Tulloch Stadium in Inverness that we secured a replay in the first place. Our lead at Firhill was short-lived unfortunately as Dennis Wyness equalised after 24 minutes and there was no further scoring, even after 30 minutes’ additional time. First up was Craig Dargo for the visitors and he made no mistake from the spot. However, the aforementioned Marko levelled at 1-1, and with his customary aplomb, of course. The usually reliable Dennis Wyness missed, as did Ross Tokely. Sandwiched between those two failures was a successful spot-kick from Ricky Gillies. Tension was rising when Barry Wilson started the long walk from the centre-circle. He had to score to keep the contest alive, and he kept his cool and slotted the ball away to make the score 3-2, Sean Kilgannon having scored a third for Thistle, who were now well and truly in the driving-seat. Could Will Snowdon clinch the tie?
Of course he could! So Thistle marched on to the quarter-final, and were a bit unfortunate to lose by the odd goal in three to Hearts at Tynecastle.
I don’t know what you think about penalty-kicks. If you go out to the field and stand in the middle of the goal and look around at what seems like acres of space, then you wonder how any professional footballer could miss a penalty-kick. However, in the heat of the moment, somebody eventually misses, otherwise we would be waiting for hours for the winners to be decided.
Odd fact: – Three of our scorers in the penalty shoot-out were actually substitutes – Will Snowdon, Sean Kilgannon and Ricky Gillies. The full starting line-up was as follows: – Kenny Arthur, Grant Murray, Scott Boyd, Billy Gibson, Marc Smyth, Darren Brady, Jimmy Gibson, Stephen McConalogue, Paul Ritchie, Mark Roberts and Adam Strachan.
The player on the programme cover is Billy Gibson, who in the 51st and final game of an agonising season scored a life-saving goal at Peterhead, one which paved the way for an escape from the 2nd division into the 1st and later onwards and upwards back to the top flight of Scottish football. It took a while, but we got there in the end.