Partick Thistle ground out a 1-0 win over Hamilton at Firhill on Tuesday thanks to a penalty from Aaron Muirhead, to close the gap on league leaders Morton to just five points with two games in hand.
Hamilton had the first chance of the match as Stevie May knocked down a long ball to Darian MacKinnon on the edge of the box, but his shot went over the bar.
However, Partick Thistle had much more of the ball in the opening stages and in the 20th minute Aaron Muirhead got on the end of a Stuart Bannigan free-kick to power a header towards goal. He looked to have put his team in the lead, but Kevin Cuthbert pulled off an exceptional save to tip the ball over the bar.
Left-back Aaron Sinclair then found himself in space on the left-side of the box and the ball broke out to him. He flashed a volley across the goal but it was just wide of the post.
Centre-back Muirhead had another opportunity right before half-time as the ball fell to him just outside the six-yard box following a corner. However, he blazed the ball over the bar.
Hamilton began to have a better hold on the match after half time and Scott Fox had to tip an Alex Neil header over the bar following a period of pressure.
But in the 55th minute Thistle took the lead after Chris Erskine slalomed into the box before being taken down by Martin Canning. Muirhead stepped up to take the penalty and sent Cuthbert the wrong way to make it 1-0.
In the 69th minute Erskine had a chance to get on the scoresheet as the ball broke to him on the edge of the box but his powerful volley was straight at the keeper.
Stuart Bannigan then had one of the best chances of the match as he received the ball in the six-yard box and looked certain to score. But the midfielder hit his shot too close to Cuthbert who managed to get the ball away.
Hamilton tried to press late on for an equaliser but struggled to create many chances – the only one of note being a Gary Fisher strike which was deflected out for a corner.
The win keeps second-placed Partick Thistle where they want to be in relation to leaders Morton who are five points in front of Thistle having played two games more. However, Hamilton are edging closer to the drop-zone having only gained one point in their last four matches. Eighth and ninth place sides Cowdenbeath and Dumbarton are both only one point behind.
It wasn’t the greatest of matches between the two sides but Partick Thistle were happy just to get the win. Player-manager Alan Archibald said: “I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, the last ten minutes were horrible to be honest. But I’m delighted with the win.
“Tonight was probably more satisfying than a four or five-nil win – the fact they ground a one-nil out against a well organised and hard to break down Hamilton team.”
Hamilton manager Billy Reid felt his were unlucky to lose: “Thistle were the better side. But we came here with a game plan, and that was to make sure we kept ourselves in the game for a long, long spell and we did that. First-half our keeper’s pulled off one outstanding save – maybe two. And we said at half-time that we didn’t do enough in terms of going forward with retention of the ball.
“I thought we started the second-half fairly well, we were getting down the left-hand side. But it’s a ball played into the channel and Stevie Craig’s got across our two centre-backs and cut it back to Erskine whose went down in the box. No complaints, it’s a stonewall penalty. But obviously that’s the big thing. We’ve came here against a decent side and got beaten one-nil with a penalty.”
Partick Thistle (4-1-4-1) – Scott Fox, Stephen O’Donnell, Aaron Muirhead, Conrad Balatoni, Aaron Sinclair, Paul Paton, Chris Erskine, Sean Welsh, Stuart Bannigan, Steven Lawless (Ross Forbes 88’), Steven Craig (Kris Doolan 88’).
Subs not used: Glenn Daniels, Mark McGuigan, Alan Archibald
Hamilton (4-4-1-1) – Kevin Cuthbert, Ziggy Gordon (Ali Crawford 83’), Martin Canning, Jonathan Page, Stephen Hendrie, Louis Longridge (Jon McShane 81’), Jon Routledge, Alex Neil (Gary Fisher 68’), Grant Gillespie, Darian MacKinnon, Stevie May.
Subs not used: Michael Devlin, Scott Christie
Referee: John McKendrick