[media-credit name=”© Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]There was not one change from the starting line up or bench from the squad that beat Dunfermline the week before.
For Alan Adamson it was slightly different. In two league fixtures the Sons of the Rock had failed to pick up any points though their performances, from last week against Cowdenbeath especially, had been encouraging. Still seeking the right blend meant he had trialist Ross Forbes in the side from the beginning. Making way for his inclusion was Scott Agnew who found himself on the bench; Bryan Prunty the man who lost his subs place to accommodate Agnew.
It was Dumbarton who kicked off and as early as the 4th minute found themselves under attack. Andy Graham was forced to cut out a dangerous cross from Chris Erskine that ended up a corner. The Stuart Bannigan corner was then defended well before another high ball was sent back in and a combination of Graham and keeper Stephen Grindlay managed to allow Grindlay to hold onto the ball. It was the theme for much of the game; Thistle with pressure that came from nowhere and Dumbarton having to scramble and work hard in defence.
Dumbarton though had chances themselves and their first was in the 6th, Bannigan fouling Mark Gilhaney at the edge of the box but the resultant free kick, taken by trialist Forbes just careered back off the wall. With dead ball specialist, Scott Agnew on the bench this was another running theme of the 90 minutes.
It was a game not without the bizarre and Scott Fox provided us with that in the 10th minute. He inexplicably decided to clear the ball from his own corner flag. His clearance went straight to Steven MacDougall. Fortunately for Fox, as he was scrambling back to his nets, McDougall’s shot was deflected wide. It was followed by a lovely move in the 14th as Stephen O’Donnell for Thistle took possession of a sweetly stuck through ball from midfield. O’Donnell’s shot saved there were plenty of Thistle shirts around as the ball bobbled within the penalty box. The ball was always in Thistle’s possession before Chris Erskine let go of his shot but it was cleared and the feeling was that the first goal was minutes away.
It was three minutes away to be precise. Bannigan took on the Dumbarton defence down the left, struck an immaculate cross and Kris Doolan rose majestically to stick it well past Grindlay. Dumbarton 2 minutes later were convinced in the terraces they had equalised. A Steven McDougall free kick was intercepted by veteran Hugh Murray, his header sending the ball over and wide but it hit the top of the goal sending the netting into convulsions, the Dumbarton fans nearly into raptures.
As the heavens opened and the game began to accept the monsoon pouring down upon it, Dumbarton seemed doomed. It certainly appeared that way when they had Thistle’s Sean Welsh sitting about 25 yards out with the ball at his feet, no one near and a free shot at the Dumbarton goal. Welsh skied it right into the stands. It could have been costly had Jim Lister buried his opportunity to equalise in the 30th minute. One on one with Scott Fox in the six yard box, the front man, who has been so deadly this season so far was unable to nod the ball with any force though Fox’s point blank save was exceptional. In fairness the ball was bobbling wildly and Messi would have been hard pushed to control it. The resultant corner saw Thistle’s defence in welcoming mood as McDougall waltzed along the by line before cutting back for Andy Graham to blast well over.
It was on the 40th minute that the finest move of the game came from Thistle who found themselves at their own corner flag. A simple passing move got them out of defence with danger averted before another sweeping ball was sent in to the Dumbarton half. Stephen O’Donnell was then skipping past not one but two Dumbarton defenders before his cut back was sent for a shot that was saved off the line by Nicky Devlin. Involving around six Thistle players from beginning to end it was exciting stuff as the first half ended; Thistle in the ascendancy and ahead 1-0.
With no changes made at the beginning of the 2nd half both teams emerged and it was Dumbarton who now seemed to be the more potent. When Murray and Bannigan downed McDougall at the edge of the box on the 47th minute, Dumbarton had an early opportunity to get on the score sheet. McDougall’s free kick was sent into the 6 yard box but some form of infringement was judged to have happened as the referee blew for a Thistle free kick.
Just as Dumbarton seemed to have found a rhythm, Steven Lawless found himself taking the ball out of defence and on a run that had the Dumbarton defence scrambling back. The ball was slipped to Sean Welsh before Welsh in turn tried to play in Kris Doolan. Unfortunately for Thistle’s goal scorer it didn’t sit kindly and careered off him to safety.
[media-credit name=”© Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com” align=”alignleft” width=”198″][/media-credit]The second goal came on the 63rd minute with Paul Paton taking the ball along the by line before cutting back to Chris Erskine who made no mistake. 7 minutes later another break out from defence had Kris Doolan striding forward, his pass to his right for Erskine was inch perfect and as everyone waited for the inevitable shot from the Thistle front man, Erskine slipped it to his right to Bannigan to slip it into a gaping net, Grindlay completely stranded.
On the 75th, it was almost four as Partick’s two subs, Aaron Sinclair and Christie Elliot combined, Sinclair’s perfect pass into the box taken by Elliot and his shot was saved well by Grindlay. At the other end, Scott Agnew now on as a substitute dropped a corner right in the middle of the Thistle six yard box. Dumbarton players there were aplenty but they seemed to be as confused as we were to see the ball land there and it was cleared. Seconds later Grindlay was forced to save at the other end from a well placed O’Donnell shot that would have been a harsh score line for Dumbarton.
After the game Partick manager Jackie McNamara refused to get carried away by being the only team in Scottish professional football with a 100% record: “We just want to keep things going. There’s a real hunger from the players to being in the team and from those who are not in the team to get into the team with real competition for places which is good.”
Reflecting on the differences between this year and last McNamara noted: “I was particularly pleased about the result. That’s a game last year that maybe we would have drawn after having had so much possession and so many chances.”
Dumbarton’s Alan Adamson refused to hit the panic button: “That’s probably the best we have played this season. I am very happy with the performance and there is no point in the head going down. I said that to the players, not to get too despondent there’s a long way to go. We’ve got to take the positives out of today.”
Partick Thistle: Fox, O’Donnell, Muirhead, Archibald, Bannigan, Paton, Murray, Welsh (Sinclair 66), Lawless (Craigen 73), Doolan (Elliot 73), Erskine
Subs Not Used: Scully, Balatoni
Booked: Paton, Erskine
Goals: Doolan 16, Erskine 63, Bannigan 70
Dumbarton: Grindlay, Devlin, Andy Graham, Lithgow, Forsyth (Creaney 79), Fleming, Gilhaney, McDougall, Forbes, Lamont (Agnew 64), Lister (Johnston 64)
Subs Not Used: Ewings, McNiff
Booked: Fleming, Devlin
Ref: Stephen Finnie
Assistant Referees: Brian Templeton & Scott Love
For more match photos from Partick Thistle’s victory over Dumbarton check out our Official Flickr site