Partick Thistle 5 Dunfermline Athletic 1Author: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 11th Nov 2012
After a fortnight without football, the Pars had the opportunity to take their minds off their off-field problems with a trip to high-flying Partick Thistle. However, they soon had plenty of problems on the pitch, trailing 3-1 at the interval with only an own-goal to show for their efforts, before finally succumbing 5-1 to a rampant Jags side.
Travel to Maryhill is often complicated by congestion on the M8, particularly when there is a football match at Ibrox. However, having left extra early I was at the stadium in plenty of time to find my way to the Jackie Husband stand, which, in a change of normal arrangements was now due to house the Pars fans, as well as most of the home support. Payment at the cash turn-style saw fans of both sides mingle in the queues for food, before the Pars fans had to squeeze into the area allocated for them It was all a bit of a squash, and the back row was eventually opened up for the overflow. Bizarrely, the main stand had about 60 assorted souls sitting in it. One real life Magyar had found his way to Maryhill – Istvan Kozma was sitting in the directors’ box next to the Pars fans, and for many, this would prove to be the highlight of the afternoon as he posed for an endless series of photographs.
Jim Jefferies was forced into making a couple of changes. With no still no sign of Stephen Jordan, he had a novel solution to the problem of left back, placing Chris Kane in that role for his starting debut. This allowed Jordan McMillan to play right back and Andy Geggan to move forward into midfield alongside Ryan Thomson and Stephen Husband. With Cardle dropping out to accommodate this, Falkingham was widish right and virtually formed a front three with Barrowman and Wallace. Of course, Dowie and Morris were there as centre-backs in front of keeper Gallacher. As well as Cardle and the usual suspects of Kirk, Potter and Hrivnak, Alex Whittle was back on the bench as a possible replacement.
Thistle welcomed back Alan Archibald to the heart of defence, and lined up with a regulation 4-4-2, albeit with some strange numbering – Balatoni the number 8 was in centre-defence, Muirhead was wearing number 5 at right back and Stephen O’Donnell wore the number 2 shirt in wide midfield. Chris Erskine and Steve Lawless (nos 11 and 7 respectively) might have been identified pre-match as ones to be wary of.
Partick kicked off towards the North Stand, now housing some of their support, and in their red and yellow strips, these finally having arrived after problems with the kit supplier. Chris Kane suffered a nightmare start at left back– 3 times he was beaten and 3 times the Pars survived, although Jordan McMillan had to clear Muirhead’s shot off the line from the game’s first corner. Kane was soon beaten again, this time grabbing two fistfuls of Erskine’s shirt to stop him getting clear, but again the Pars’ luck held. But only for another minute. This time Partick had the ball on the left, before switching play to the right, O’Donnell ghosted past Kane and Lawless turned the ball in from beyond the far post. 1-0 Jags.
Partick continued to look dangerous every time they got the ball, which was often, as Husband soon found himself caught in possession from Kane’s pass and Doolan broke only for Morris to clean up. Morris again had to come to the rescue with a meaty challenge on Erskine which left the Partick player punching the ground as if he were seriously injured, only to make a swift recovery once Gallacher had just about kept out Lawless’ shot.
The Pars began to show a little, finally. Husband had an early free-kick which he sent well over the bar, but in 20 minutes another free-kick, given for a foul on Barrowman, was sent in and Fox just nipped in to prevent Thomson latching onto Dowie’s knock-down.
Barrowman himself nearly managed to take advantage of a poor clearance from Fox which went to him 40 yards out, a neat side-step giving him half a yard for a shot, but his effort was blocked at close range. However, the Pars got on level terms soon after. Archibald was late on Falkingham, and when Wallace speared the ball in looking for Barrowman, Muirhead got there first to turn the ball into his own net. 1-1
As if Partick weren’t dangerous enough by themselves, the Pars seemed keen to give them a helping hand – Dowie was indecisive when guiding the ball back to his keeper on the half hour and Lawless nipped in to shoot, the ball coming off Gallacher’s chest. Gall chased the loose ball to the edge of his area, only to see it virtually kicked out of his hands before Morris hacked it clear.
Then Kozma was off his feet as Wallace had a great chance when fed in the inside right channel, but with only Fox to beat he drove past the outside of the far post. Kozma wasn’t alone in having his head in his hands.
That was a great chance, but not long after Thistle had the lead they deserved. Referee Murray had been patient, being content to let Barrowman and Muirhead off with a lecture for a bout of handbags, but ran out of patience immediately after when Geggan and O’Donnell wrestled for possession. Geggan was booked, a corner was won, and when Forbes sent the ball in from the Thistle left Balatoni powered a header into the roof of the net. 2-1.
Gallacher stopped a third two minutes later, beating away Sinclair’s shot from the edge of the area after Erskine had been able to run unimpeded from right to left, but this only delayed the inevitable. The Pars had broken, but Geggan was caught out and Thistle flooded forward. With options Doolan found the correct choice, laying the ball to his left and O’Donnell deftly chipped the ball over Gallacher as he spread himself, and once again, the Pars would have a two-goal deficit from which to recover.
Half time: Jags 3 Pars 1