Web reporter Martin McConnell with his take on Saturday’s league defeat at Firhill –
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow
Saturday 18th February 2017 at 3pm.
Partick Thistle 2 Hamilton Academical 0
After a first half stalemate, Accies were finally undone by two Kris Doolan headers at Firhill, and manager Martin Canning feels the midweek cup exertions of his threadbare squad were a factor in the result.
“From 60 minutes onwards I think you could see that we tired, after putting so much into the midweek game. We’re seven or eight bodies down just now and we are having to dig deep every week. Today we gave it our all but ultimately came up short.”
“In the first half I thought we were the better team although I thought it was a poor game overall, and we’ve been ultimately beaten by two crosses into the box that we didn’t defend.”
Looking at the bigger picture, the result illustrates the battle that the Accies boss and his players know they have to face this season, with a tough spell of away fixtures to come starting with the visit to Celtic Park next weekend.
“It was always going to be a hard grind for us in the league this season. We’re in exactly in the position where we thought we’d be, working hard for every point. We need to make sure that continues and hopefully with fresher players coming back in we will start picking up the wins again.”
“We have a tough run of games coming up but now I would like to think we need to take something from one of those games. But it’s the games we want to be involved in. I’m pretty sure if you asked the players, they wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”
Canning shuffled his injury hit squad and made four changes to the side which featured in Wednesday’s marathon cup victory over Dunfermline. Gary Woods returned between the sticks for Remi Matthews and Eamonn Brophy meanwhile came in for Gramoz Kurtaj. Massimo Donati started in place of the injured Dan Seaborne, and Ioannis Skondras replaced Grant Gillespie in a five man midfield.
Thistle meanwhile made two changes to the team which beat St Johnstone last week, with Mustapha Dumbuya coming in for Niall Keown, and Welsh making way for Callum Booth at left back.
Both sides were on the up from Scottish Cup victories, but there was plenty at stake with the home side now eyeing a realistic place in the top six. And it was a largely forgettable first half, with each largely cancelling the other out in a scrappy midfield duel.
Other than some early threat through David Amoo down the right, Thistle weren’t able to craft much danger. The wide man’s cross found Azeez in the box on 19 minutes with the striker skewing well wide in the first opening of the game.
At the other end Accies had made a steady but unspectacular start to the game, with Dougie Imrie almost providing the magic from out wide. His whipped cross was just beyond Brophy in the box on 19 minutes, with another good delivery finding Donati in the box on 33 minutes, but the Italian’s shot was deflected wide.
Chances were few and far between, giving both managers something to think about at half time. Alan Archibald opted for a straight change of personnel, bringing on Doolan for some impetus up front, and it was ultimately to turn the game in the home side’s favour.
And yet for the opening part of the first half Accies had continued to look the brighter, with Brophy looking in the mood up front, and Darian McKinnon driving his team forward in midfield. Brophy came closest to breaking the deadlock on 47 minutes with a header just wide from a Redmond free kick.
The Accies striker then got a first strike on target on 54 minutes as he burst down the right angle of the box forcing Cerny to touch wide.
But on the hour mark there was a sense that the tide was turning, as Doolan began to influence the game at the other end, and Thistle brought on top scorer Chris Erskine to add to the attack. Accies began to look heavy legged after 120 minutes and penalties in midweek, and the hosts could scent danger, looking more urgent in their attacks.
Accies narrowly escaped on 65 minutes as an Osman header from Booth’s free kick was parried out to Doolan who blasted over the bar from point blank range, but it was only to delay Thistle’s opener by a minute, as the striker quickly made amends.
The danger came down the left with Erskine finding himself in acres of space with time to pick out his strike partner, who this time made no mistake, heading past Woods for the all-important opener.
It gave the hosts an extra spring in their step and they were to extend their lead on 78 minutes, again through a delivery from the left flank. Booth got the ball down the flank and his cross found Doolan unmarked to wrap up the points.
Other than a late Skondras effort just wide, Accies couldn’t find a response Thoughts now turn to recharging the batteries with a challenging run of fixtures beginning with the visit to Parkhead next week.
Thistle: Cerny, Dumbuya, Booth, Lindsay, Osman, Amoo (Doolan 64), Lawless, Barton, Devine, Azeez (Erskine 57), Edwards. Subs Unused: Ridgers, Keown, Nisbet, McCarthy.
Goals: Doolan 67, 78.
Accies: Woods, Devlin (c), Imrie, Bingham, Watson, MacKinnon, Brophy (Adams 74), Donati (Kurtaj 74), McMann, Redmond (Gillespie 64), Skondras. Subs Unused: Matthews, Seaborne, Cunningham, S Boyd.
Cautions: Devlin, Watson, Skondras.
Referee: Willie Collum. Assistants: Frankie Connor & David McGeachie, 4th Official: Alan Newlands