Partick Thistle 4 Ayr United 2
It was double delight for partick thistle players Kris Doolan and Paul Cairney as they both bagged second half braces to give thistle their first win of 2012.
The thistle line-up was unchanged from the team that drew 0-0 on saturday at firhill and with the gaffer Jackie Mcnamra looking for a better performance than his side have produced this calender year. If mcnamara was looking for a fast and improving start by the jags it could not have been any further away from that. With just four minutes on the clock ayr's Adam Dodd made a run up the left flank and crossed the ball over and with the thistle defence being hesistant they allowed one time thistle target Keigan Parker to slide in and prod the ball over the line.
The next 20 minutes were up there with as bad as i have seen thistle play, they could not pass to each other, didnt seem to be able to control the ball and just resorted to kick it long and with the wind behind us it was always just going to trickle through to ayr's keeper. In that space of time ayr could and should have wrapped up the match and later on would regret it. They seemed to be getting in behind our defence with ease and had 3 great chances which were only stop by a good save from fox, o'donnell clearing one of the line and ex-jag mark roberts finding the side net when it might have been easier to score. Ayr also had a goal correctly disallowed for offside during this period of play.
It wasnt until about 30 minutes into the game that thistle started to get their act together and get back into the game. It could be put down to that fact that paul cairney and chris erskine swapped flanks around this time to both play on their natural sides and it seemed to give the side a more balanced look. Thistle started creating chances and both kris doolan and christie elliot had good efforts which forced ayr's goalie cuthbert into comfortable saves. With the half time whistle going there was a chorus of boo's and disappointment from disgruntled jags fans but the team had started show some fight and spirit in the latter part of the half.
The start of the second half was a bit scrappy but thistle started to take control and get a grip of the game. On 55 minutes and out of the blue thistle levelled, i think everyone was ready to stop expecting a free kick the ball fell into the bath of kris doolan and from 20 yards out he caught the ball sweetly and it sailed past cuthbert and into the back of the net. The jags were now on top and controlling the game the same way thistle were playing at the start of the season as ayr struggling to get out of there own half. On 64 minutes and after a succesion of throw-ins down the left chris erskine turned his marker and and sent in a delightfully floated cross that found kris doolans head and he steered it beyond cuthbert in ayr's goal for his and thistle's second of the game.
Thistle were by now dominating the game and it looked like it would just be how many we could score but like thistle of old we continued to create chances and miss them with ease, paton had a great shot from just outside the box which just went over then chris erskine went on one of his long mazy runs but couldnt find the finish to match and doolan almost got on the end of erskines cross come shot. By now the ayr defence looked to have no confidence at all and thistle were getting in at will and then came the moment we had been looking for doolan broke free from his marker and was heading towards the keeper and shot but cuthbert produced a fine save to keep the score down at 2-1 and deny doolan a hat trick. Surely it was only a matter of time before we scored again but as a jags fan we know its never over till its over and there was always that doubt in the back of the mind that ayr would nick a goal to draw level.
Then on 80 minutes paton made a burst into the box and was fouled by malone to give thistle a penalty although the decision did look harsh malone was booked for his reaction. Although doolan was on a hat trick the club penalty taker cairney stepped up and tucked the ball away to make it 3-1 thistle. Ayr now started to try and press forward to try and get back into the game and were leaving big gaps at the back which thistle got in behind time and time again but were unable to score, there was a great counter attack from young Kal Naismith who replaced elliot when he broke away from an ayr corner and played through cairney who had ran the whole length of the park and just as he got to the goal he seemed to run out of energy and miss placed his final pass.
Thistle were in control of this game and seemed to be playing for time when out of nothing ayr's michael mcgowan unleashed a bullet of a shot from 25-30 yards that found the corner of fox's net to make it 3-2 and a very nervy final two minutes for thistle and there fans. As i was sitting in the jackie husband stand all i could think about was keep the ball and head for the corners as ayr were going to try and press for the equaliser that would not have been deserved.
Just heading into stoppage time came the move and moment of the match for me midfield anchor and dynamo paul paton won a great challenge on halfway and played a superb pass over the ayr defence for doolan to control on his chest and run in on goal. As cuthbert came out to narrow the angle and with doolan on what would have been a perfect hat-trick he unselfishly played a ball across the box for cairney to tap into the empty net for his second of the game and thistle's fourth and with that the points were ours for the first time in 2012.
Overall thought on game was that we started very poor and against a better side we could have been dead and buried but the team got there act together and got it right on the park. Lets hope that it continues and we can start to pick up more points on the road and finish the next 5 home games unbeaten.