After the match Partick Thistle manager Jackie McNamara praised his side’s spirit and energy: “I thought from the first minute we were excellent. We passed the ball well and on another day we could have scored a few more goals.”
Despite a good win here, it was not as smooth an afternoon as perhaps it should have been. Partick were forced to play most of the game with ten men after midfielder Hugh Murray was sent off for a foul on Gavin Swankie in the penalty area. A definite penalty perhaps but most in the ground were surprised to see a red card shown. McNamara described the decision as ‘disappointing’. Forfar failed to take advantage however, as Swankie struck the resulting penalty high over the bar.
The controversial incident happened towards the end of an action packed first half in which the visitors impressed. Forfar began the game well enough – with winger Danny Denholm looking dangerous on the ball. However, once Partick Thistle settled, they began to dominate the match and Forfar failed to maintain their team shape without the ball.
Although they were dominating, Partick struggled to connect with their final ball in and around the Forfar penalty area. A few good openings were wasted before they finally broke the deadlock after 18 minutes.
The goal, however, was worth the wait. Winger Chris Erskine, from just inside the Forfar half, beat two men before confidently sweeping the ball in to the corner of the net beyond David Scott. It was a wonderful individual effort.
Twenty minutes later, Partick doubled their advantage. Left back Aaron Sinclair surged down the inside left channel and passed to Chris Erskine. Erskine played in Steven Lawless who slotted the ball home for 2-0. The goal had been coming; Partick were getting plenty of room all over the pitch as they dragged the Forfar midfield out of position. Steven Lawless, who scored the second, was getting plenty of joy dropping deep to play in Bannigan, Welsh and Erskine who ran from midfield.
Forfar, despite not scoring their penalty before the break, began the 2 nd half much with more purpose. There was a sense that if they could get one back, Partick’s 10-men would be severely tested. Indeed, they almost scored 2 minutes after the re-start. A corner was only partially cleared and the ball fell to Keith Gibson on the far edge of the area. Gibson struck a clean, powerful shot only to see his effort hit the bar. Forfar’s chances of a comeback disappeared with that misfortune.
Partick were unfortunate not to extend their winning margin as Sean Welsh and Stephen O’Donnell saw their shots hit the post in the closing stages.
The afternoon was a bit of a reality check for Forfar boss Dick Campbell and his squad. Following the plaudits received for last weekend’s 3-2 victory against Dunfermline in the Ramsdens Cup, the Forfar gaffer acknowledged that the praise had affected his players, he said: “We maybe got thinking that we were better than what we were. We never competed enough with them and their goalkeeper hasn’t had a save to make in the 90 minutes.”
Both teams will be hoping they are now well set up for the opening day of the Scottish Football League season next weekend. Forfar travel to play Queen of the South, whilst Partick welcome Falkirk to Firhill Stadium.