Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Doubles all round

       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.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Partick Thistle V Ayr United Preview

With not starting 2012 in good form thistle need to start winning games to move away from the bottom of the league otherwise they could see themselves involved in a relegation battle. So far in 2012 thistle have collected just 2 points from the 15 available and only scoring 1 goal in those 5 matches.

 On tuesday night partick entertain ayr united at firhill, with ayr currently sitting bottom of the league this
 gives thistle the chance to take all 3 points and move to 10 points ahead of their opponents. With just 14 games left this season and only 6 left to play at firhill it is vital that partick get the victory that will restart there season. The shot shy jags also need to start scoring goals, although having the second best defence in the first division thistle would be 8th in the table if it came down to goals scored.

 The 2 matches between the sides this season already have been a comprehensive 4-0 victory for thistle last time out at firhill with 4 different scorers - David Rowson, Paul Cairney, Chris Erskine and an injury time penalty from Kris Doolan. At somerset the game was played in farcical conditions and the game ended in a goalless draw. So with partick have the upper hand so far in meeting this season the jags fans will be looking for another convincing victory to kick start there push up the table.

Partick Thistle boss Jackie McNamara should have new signing conrad balatoni available for the match as it was felt that saturdays 0-0 draw with morton was too soon for the player as he has only just returned to training. Otherwise the harry wraggs boss should have a full squad to choose from and will be hoping that over the 90 minutes partick can come away with their first victory in 2012.

Firhill shedboys Prediction -

 Partick Thistle 3 Ayr United 1

I believe we have been unlucky in recent weeks with small things going against us and for some other reason our forwards have been unable to put the ball in the back of the net. I think Kris Doolan will score 2 and fancy Christie Elliot to score the other one. Also we have the return of firhill fans favourite Mark Roberts will score ayr's consolation goal.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

McNamara Under Pressure?

 Jackie McNamara hasn't been in the thistle hotseat for long but know's that the managers job at firhill is not for the faint hearted. The last 2 games have brought 1-0 defeats with the team conceding very late goals in both games to leave the fans disgruntled and unhappy. With being knocked out of all 3 cups early and 2 of them to smaller clubs than thistle (berwick rangers and queen of the south) the fans are not happy as most see that getting far in cups and a decent tie agaisnt either old firm club or a big supported spl side as a way of the club making money these days. Although currently sitting in 4th in the scottish first division there have been shouts from supporters for mcnamara to go which i find suprising. In my opionion its still to early to come to this decision but football supporters these day demand instants success but come on now lets be serious how much success can a run of the mill first division side with no finances get.

   Jackie McNamara took over from Ian McCall for the final 5 league games of the 2010/2011 season and in just those 5 games we were able to see that he liked the team to get the ball down and try and play football something that is not easy in the lower divisions of scottish football but most fans seemed happy and were willing enough for mcnamara to get the job on a full time basis. Under mccall the team in my opinion was becoming a bit stale and was only going to go in one direction and that was slide further down the table. Ian McCall had 4 years at the helm but towards the end things didnt seem right, when he first joined we started off well finishing runner up to st johnstone in the league and had 3 great games against rangers which included the 1-1 draw at ibrox. The last 18 months howver were different and the team started to slide down the league and struggle, I honestly believe that if mccall was still in charge to day that we would be down at the bottom of the first division this season. McCall was never really giving a hard time by the supporters towards the end of his tenure even though the football the team were playing was dire and just scraping bye on results. The biggest mistake ian mccall made was getting rid of cult hero Mark Roberts. Even before mccall thistle were under the management of a certain Dick Campbell. Campbell's side were never that great and he somehow managed to get us promoted throught the second division playoffs even though we finished 4th and more than 20 points behind 2nd place morton. What i cant understand was that thistle fans were allowing the past 2 managers at least 18 months to get things sorted on the park but are only allowing mcnamara just half a season.

Jackie Mcnamara with decembers manager of the month

  The product on the park in the first half of this season has been better than what was served up by campbell and mccall in his last 2 years and the squad that mcnamara has is full of youngsters which are trying to gel together. Also the fans have to remember that this is Jackie McNamara's first job in management. The supporters need to understand that jackie is trying to get the team to play a possesion and passing game and it seems to be working as in most games the reports read thistle lots of possesion and good football but lack the killer touch. I will admitt we do lack that killer touch and the striker that can get 20 goals a season but have done for years since the lambie days with scott mclean  mark roberts being the exception. The thistle fans have to realise that mcnamara is a hungry young boss wanting to be succesful playing agood brand of football and he should be giving time, in my opinion at least 2 full seasons and then see were the club is then not after only 19 leagues. Football supporters these days expect success overnight but how many clubs can guarntee that not many. For example the riches they have at chelsea took 5 season under roman abramovich before they won the premeir league and even the great fergie didnt win anything in his first 4 years at manchester united. Managers cant just turn things around overnight and in scotland it is even harder as the old firm dominate here.

 What are the real ambitions for partick thistle, i would love to see us in the premier league but in all honestly we are a first division club at best which is where we have been most of my watching day. Most supporters have us up there with the likes of St Mirren and Kilmarnock but in reality these days we are on par with the likes of hamilton and even ross county who have a better average home crowd and a bigger playing budget than us. The support is dwindling and the finances are poor but we still show our support for our club by turning up week in week out so lets just get behind the team and hopefully the results on the park will come and Jackie McNamara can be a success as thistle manager.

Jackie with his assistants simon and davie