You wouldn’t think only one place in the league table separates Livingston and Partick Thistle as the gulf in class between the sides was clear to see for the 2897 that braved the wintry conditions at Firhill today.
The Jags stuck six past McNeil from six different scorers in Alan Archibald’s first game as the Partick Thistle manager, he had taken charge of the Jags last six games as interim manager.
Livingston went into the match, third in the table and on a two game winning streak but that run would come to an end as Partick extended its winning run to six games.
Partick Thistle made two changes to the side which won away to Hamilton Accies last week as they brought in Paul Paton and James Craigen to replace the suspended James Bannigan and Ross Forbes who moved to the bench.
Livingston made the one change from the side which beat Raith Rovers a fortnight ago with promising young striker Stefan Scougall being replaced by Marc McNulty.
Andrew McNeil was forced into an early save on 5 minutes when Steven Craig broke into the box and fired low but McNeil managed to get his feet to the ball and deny the goal.
The first goal of the game came on 17 minutes. Paul Paton had at goal but it was blocked by the hands off Paul Watson and George Salmond had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Aaron Muirhead stood up to take the penalty and he made no mistake as he fired the ball down the middle to put Thistle in front.
The Jags fans didn’t have to wait long for the second as it came through Steven Craig on 22 minutes. The striker was picked out unmarked from a lovely Welsh chip and he neatly headed the ball into the bottom corner past a diving McNeil from seven yards.
The third Jags goal came on 37 minutes through James Craigen. The keeper was beaten more by the bounce of the ball than the actual shot with Craigen’s low strike from just outside the box getting a helpful bobble which duped McNeil who looked helpless as the ball went over his shoulder and into the net.
Partick Thistle certainly had their tails up and nearly got their fourth through Steven Craig as he attempted a cheeky lob but McNeil managed to grab the ball over his head.
However the Jags were not to be denied as they got their fourth a minute from half-time. Steven Lawless got the goal after some terrific built up play from Erskine who put through Lawless who shrugged off the attention of a Livingston defender before
slotting it into the net.
Into the second-half and Livingston got their consolation with more or less their first chance of the game on 46 minutes. A cross from out wide picked out half-time substitute Jordon Morton who headed the ball down to Watson who volleyed the ball past Fox in the Partick goal.
Livingston could have had a second if were not for a terrific save from Fox on 51 minutes, the keeper was forced to make a save as McNulty had a low shot from a couple of yards out but Fox narrowed the angle down well and blocked the ball out for a corner.
However with Livingston looking like they were getting back in the game, Erskine scored one of the best goals of the season.
Erskine and Doolan made some terrific built up play as they passed their way round the Livingston defence before Doolan finally set up Erskine a couple of yards out from goal and he made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the far corner.
The Jags sixth and final goal came with 20 minutes remaining through second-half substitute Kris Doolan. A brilliant cross from out wide by Aaron Sinclair found an unmarked Doolan seven yards out from goal and he brilliantly took the ball down on his chest before volleying it into the roof of the net.
With Greenock Morton managing a second-half comeback against Cowdenbeath, the Jags are still two points behind the league leaders but hold a game in hand over their west coast rivals.
Next up for Partick Thistle are three away games to Fife before the Ramsdens Cup Final at Almondvale to play runaway Second Division leaders Queen of the South. They face Cowdenbeath twice, first midweek in a rearranged fixture before again playing at Central Park next Saturday.
Livingston in comparison has three consecutive home games, starting with Hamilton midweek before Dunfermline next Saturday.
After the game the newly appointed Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald praised his team’s ability to score goals from any area of the pitch. He said: “We can score goals all over the pitch, the way we train and the way we play makes sure there all goals from all over the pitch. It’s being like that all the season. We don’t run away from games with lots of goals. We don’t have a player who scores twenty goals a season. We have a lot of players who are good at going forward.”
Partick Thistle: Scott Fox, Stephen O’Donnell, Aaron Sinclair, Paul Paton, Aaron Muirhead, Conrad Balatoni, Sean Welsh (Ross Forbes), James Craigen, Steven Craig (Kris Doolan), Steven Lawless, Chris Erskine (Christie Elliott)
Subs not used: Glenn Daniels, Alan Archibald
Livingston: Andrew McNeil, Kevin McCann, Callum Booth, Paul Watson (Jason Talbot), Craig Barr, Burton O’Brien, Kyle Jacobs, Liam Fox, Marc McNulty, Antony Andrew (Jordan Morton), Iain Russell (Danny Mullen)
Subs not used: Ross Gray, Darren Jamieson
Referee: George Salmond
For more photos from the game, check out the official Scotzine flickr page.