It was fourth versus ninth in the First Division as Partick Thistle played host to Queen of the South at Firhill on Boxing Day. Both teams were looking for some Christmas cheer following defeat in their previous games.
Thistle made two changes from the 1-0 defeat to Raith Rovers last week with Tommy Stewart coming in for Elliot and Dargo dropping to the bench in favour of Stuart Bannigan.
After their 5-1 mauling at the hands of Falkirk, Gus MacPherson’s Queen of the South side made one change with Ryan McGuffie coming in for Higgins.
With two minutes played the away side had two early chances to open the scoring, but Scott Fox in the Jags goal denied a certain goal at the back post and from the resulting corner the Dumfries side were denied again by a goal line clearance.
The first booking of the match came on seven minutes when a studs high challenge by Steven McKenna into the chest of Paul Paton, saw the Dumfries player handed a yellow card by referee Bobby Madden.
A minute later and Partick Thistle should have taken the support when a teasing cross from Stephen O’Donnell gifted a chance for Kris Doolan to score in the six yard box, but the Jags forward could not get onto the end of the ball and it was gratefully gathered by Queens keeper Lee Robinson.
On 22 minutes a moment of fortune coupled with mother nature could have given Partick Thistle the lead. A Paul Cairney corner was whipped in towards the six yard box, however a kind gust of wind saw the ball hit the crossbar, but away from danger.
The second booking of the game was handed out to Thistle’s O’Donnell for a foul on Nicky Clark, much to the derision of the home support.
Two minutes before half time and Thistle continued to peg back Gus MacPherson’s side as they looked for a goal before the break. However a combination of poor decision-making and a lack of incisiveness in and around the Doonhamers box, plus some stubborn defending frustrated any chance of the Jags getting a deserved goal.
Into the second half and within two minutes of the restart Thistle took the lead. Jackie McNamara’s side were awarded a free kick some 20 yards from goal, Aaron Sinclair smashed the resulting set piece through the Doonhamers wall forcing Lee Robinson into a superb save, but the ball fell kindly to Thistle’s Paul Cairney who fired it back into the six yard box with Kris Doolan waiting to head it home.
After some nervous defending at the back for Thistle, a quick counter from Tommy Stewart saw the Jags forward bear down on the Doonhamers goal, but he could not capitalise on the time and space afforded to him and he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
On 65 minutes Robinson was called into action once more, Tommy Stewart picked the ball up on the left flank before playing a neat pass to Jags playmaker Paul Cairney who jinked his way into space inside the Doonhamers box before firing towards goal, but Robinson was equal to it and saved low to his right.
The Doonhamers had a great chance to equalise through Ryan McGuffie on 71 minutes, with their first real chance of the second half. The defender peeled off at the back post to latch onto a free kick but he could not direct the ball towards target and it sailed over the bar.
The win keeps Thistle in fourth spot one point being thrid placed Dundee on 27 points. Defeat leaves Queen of the South rooted to the foot of the table on 16 points, one point behind ninth placed Ayr United on 17 points.
After the match Queen of the South manager Gus MacPherson said: “It’s a disappointing result, I think first half there wasn’t a lot between the teams, we’ve competed very well. But the start of the second half is vital for us, we’ve actually got possession of the ball, it plays forward but comes back far too easily and within probably a minute we are picking the ball out of the net.
“It probably just sums up the way things have been going for us at the moment and every little mistake that we made was getting punished, but thereafter you can see the difference. Their down there fighting and scrapping for everything, Partick Thistle got a massive lift from it and are putting us under pressure. It just probably sums up the way things are going at the moment and it’s something we need to get out of our system quickly.”
“We had a couple of half chances from set pieces. Its just the final ball, you know when you’re in that area of the park and confidence is low at the moment, it’s having the confidence just to try that one. Maybe we should just take a wee bit longer what we should do to attempt it, but when your playing with confidence you would try it a little bit quicker. But things just aren’t going for us at the moment, but the only way we can get round that is work harder.
Partick Thistle manager Jackie McNamara added: “It’s a good three points, that’s the main thing coming after last week to bounce back to get three points is important especially at home. It was always going to be a hard game given the conditions and stuff, but I felt that we dealt with everything quite well today.”
The match was Conrad Balatoni’s final game of his loan deal from Hearts, asked if there was a chance of getting an extension to keep the player at Firhill, McNamara stated: “No, I dont think so. The way they are talking they want him back, so we just have to wait and see what happens. Again we will speak to them, but he’s due back there so it’s his last game today. I know his contract is up in the summer, so we will just have to wait and see what happens to him.”
With the Englishman’s departure back to parent club Hearts, McNamara intimated that he was looking at a number of targets, he added: “I’m hoping to get another couple of loan players in, we just need to wait and see. I don’t want to say too much just now incase it doesnt happen, but we’re trying to get a couple of players in just to help the squad.”
Partick: Fox, O’Donnell, Balatoni, Archibald, Sinclair, Paton, Cairney, Rowson, Bannigan (Erskine 68), Doolan, Stewart (Burns 82). Subs Not Used: Scully,Craig Dargo,Scott Robertson.
Queen of South: Robinson, Craig Reid, Campbell, McGuffie, Alan Reid, Johnston, Simmons (Carmichael 75), McKenna (Brighton 46), McLaughlin, Clark, Smith (McCusker 69).Subs Not Used: McKenzie, Holt.
Ref: Bobby Madden