Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Classic Thistle

I was delighted to finally see the highlights of last week’s game against Ayr United. The weather that night was horrendous, as was some of the football in the opening 20 minutes. From a Thistle perspective, the final 70 minutes were fantastic. Partick Thistle managed to sum up their 136 years of existence in one game. Mingin, then sublime.

The game against Ayr showed Thistle at their best and at their worst. Thistle struggled to adjust to the conditions and, apparently, to the sport of football. Simple passes were misplaced, second touches were tackles, and chances were few and far between. The fans, understandably on this occasion, were starting to single out players as Ayr took an early lead and found chasms in the Thistle defence.

It was enough to make one fan question his own existence: “What am I doing here?!?!?”

From the incompetent, to the magnificent. Thistle started to show the sparse crowd what they are capable of. A neat exchange of passes between midfielders and attackers gave the team a series of chances to score an equaliser. An excellent run from the enigmatic Chris Erskine, led to a pass through to Doolan, who brought out a decent save from Cuthbert. Erskine had a clear shot at goal, but chose to pass. A sign, surely, that a player with such instinctive talent has lost some confidence.

As the teams emerged for the second half, Thistle’s season was hanging in the balance. Kris Doolan repaid the manager’s faith in him with a second half brace, one with his right foot and the second with his head. He had the chance to score a perfect hat trick when the impressive Paton was fouled in the box. Doolan was the supporter’s choice to take the kick, presumably with his left foot. It was, however, Paul Cairney who was given the task to put Thistle 3-1 up. Both Doolan and Cairney showing their respect for one another and McNamara’s instructions as the penalty was professionally dispatched.

Ayr scored an impressive second goal, which could have made an uncomfortable final few minutes for the Firhill crowd had it not been for Paton’s lofted ball through to Doolan, who crossed for Cairney to score his second and Thistle’s fourth of the evening.

I did wonder, after that magnificent second half performance, what the more pessimistic fans would complain about. A quick glance at a fans’ forum gave me my answer – a debate on the standard of ball boys. Seriously.

There were many more concerns raised a few days later as Thistle again showed an inability to build on a good result as they lost 2-1 to Raith Rovers. An excellent opening 45 minutes was followed by a disastrous second half, which saw Paul Paton (who was able to channel his aggression and frustration during the Ayr game to provide us with an outstanding performance) was shown a straight red card for his inability to channel his aggression and frustration, and lash out at an opponent.

Jackie McNamara has had a hard time convincing some fans that he is the man to take Thistle forward. In an interview with the Jagscast last year, he told us that he was an “ambitious wee guy”, and that he saw no reason why Thistle couldn’t be in the SPL within a couple of years. We have, at times this season, been treated to some wonderful football. If our young players were able to add some consistency to their undoubted talent, we could run away with the league title next season. Seriously.


Remember to read Craig Telfer's thoughts on the Ayr game by checking out his excellent site:

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