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Partick Thistle FC

Hazard pleased with first clean sheet

One of the happiest men in Methil after the final whistle blew on Partick Thistle’s 1-0 win over East Fife at the weekend was Northern Irish ‘keeper, Conor Hazard. That’s because in his sixth game as a Jag the 20-year-old finally got the clean sheet that he’d been so close to getting since arriving at the Club.

In each of his first five games since signing on loan from Celtic, the ‘stopper had conceded just the single goal but at the weekend, despite difficult conditions, he was able to keep East Fife out completely as the Maryhill men progressed to the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

Conor spoke to after the game to reflect on a satisfying victory:

“Everyone’s delighted in the dressing room. It was a really tough game because of the team we were playing and the conditions. I think as soon as we arrived and felt how strong the wind was, we knew it was going to play a part.

“Anyone who was at the game could see that it made it very difficult for us to get up the pitch in that first half and we struggled to play at our best because of that. It then died down in the second half which in turn helped East Fife a bit. At the end of the day though we got our win which is what we were here for.”

One of the big moments of the game came when Hazard ended up catching a ball which he tried to send up to the other end of the pitch but saw the wind carry it back towards his own goal. The incident resulted in an indirect free-kick for the hosts as the ball had originally come from a Bannigan back pass – an unusual incident surely destined for “what happened next” compilations of the future.

“It was incredible really. I tried to kick it long but I could see as soon as I hit it, it was coming straight back at me because of the wind which was at its strongest towards the end of the first half. I heard a couple of people telling me to head it but I was more focused on making sure it didn’t go in the net so I just caught it. It let us set up for the free kick which Ando managed to block so luckily the whole thing didn’t cost us.”

Over the last few weeks, Thistle have put in accomplished defensive performances only to see one moment cost them a clean sheet. Given the scarcity of shutouts Hazard was delighted that the Jags were able to stop East Fife from notching at Bayview.

“The team’s on a great run which is the most important thing but as a ‘keeper you always want to keep clean sheets. I think we were unlucky last week because we probably deserved the clean sheet but Caley got lucky with the way the ball ricocheted off the post. At the end of the day, winning is the big thing and clean sheets are nice added bonuses.”

The goalkeeper then singled match-winner, Steven Anderson out for praise as the on-loan St Johnstone defender once again put in a stellar display at the heart of the defence.

“He’s been excellent since he arrived. He’s the kind of defender who improves the whole defence just by being there because of how he organises from the back. Also, he dominates aerially and any long balls that come forward, you can trust him to go and head them away which takes the pressure off the defence at times.

“It makes things easier for me too because I can trust him to do his job which allows me to focus on mine more wholly and if he keeps popping up with goals at his current rate, then he’ll be up there with Shankland and Dobbie in no time.”

A more in depth video interview with Gary Caldwell is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Steven Anderson and James Penrice – log in now to see them.

Highlights of the match are also available free for Jagzone subscribers.

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