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Raith Rovers put Thistle’s title party on hold

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Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Partick Thistle needed just two points to seal the Scottish First Division title at Firhill last night. But despite plenty of chances, neither side could find the back of the net and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.

In the first minute, Brian Graham picked up the ball in the box after a mistake by a Thistle defender. He had a one-on-one opportunity with Scott Fox but from an angle hit his shot into the side netting.

Raith then had another chance in the fourth minute as Jason Thomson broke through the middle and passed to Greig Spence on the edge of the box. The striker had lots of space but his shot was well saved by Fox.

Ten minutes later it was Spence against Fox again as he picked up a poor Stuart Bannigan header on the halfway line and ran through on goal. However, Fox pulled off another excellent save to keep his side in it.

In the 39th minute Stuart Bannigan sent a cross over from the left-wing which McGurn couldn’t deal with and the ball fell to Doolan unmarked at the back post. He had to slide in to connect with the ball and although it was a difficult shot he should have done better than sending it just over the bar.

The second-half picked up where the first left off. Thistle were on the front foot but couldn’t find a way past McGurn.

Within the first ten minutes Erskine and Sean Welsh both had chances but couldn’t get their shots on target. Ross Callachan also had a chance for Raith but his shot from about 20 yards out was over.

In the 70th minute McGurn was called into action when he had to make an excellent double save Lawless and then Stephen O’Donnell. Both players were less than 10 yards out from goal but the keeper’s reflexes were excellent to keep his team’s clean sheet.

In the final few minutes both teams had chances to win the match. Spence set-up Graham but his shot was straight at Fox.

Christie Elliot then had a 20 yard volley which was well held by McGurn. In the final minute Thistle had a free-kick which Aaron Sinclair stepped-up to take. This would be their final chance to seal the league title. However, Sinclair’s shot was to close to the keeper and he held it well.

Raith Rovers were pleased to be only the second team to take points of Thistle at Firhill this season. While the Jags were disappointed they couldn’t seal the title in front of their fans. But its only a matter of time until they get the trophy as they are one point away from victory.

Thistle manager Alan Archibald said: “It’s a bit of an anti-climax. We stressed to them before the game that it wasn’t going to be easy and they weren’t going to roll over. And we said that on Saturday with Airdrie as well. But that opening period was probably the worst ten minutes we’ve had all season to be honest with you. They could have been 3-0 up. It was maybe a bit of nerves because it’s not like us at home. We’ve got a great home record. But Raith Rovers made it really difficult for us to be honest. I think after about 20 or 25 minutes we kicked on and started to play a bit. I think we had most of the second half and they had to make a couple of good saves. But the way things were bouncing about I don’t think it was going to be our night.

He added: “I can’t be too critical of them though, they’re bitterly disappointed as they wanted to put a show on for their fans tonight and go and clinch it in style but you have to kind of let it go with the amount of games they’ve played over the last two months. It’s incredible.”

Raith Rovers manager Grant Murray said: “Well we’re only the second side to pick up something from Firhill this season. It’s obviously something I touched on in the changing room before the game, and after it. There’s teams came here and lost six goals, four goals and what have you. It was an end-to-end game today. We had most of our chances in the first five or ten minutes. Obviously we came under a bit of pressure in the second-half, but as I say against a team sitting top of the league you’re going to come under some amount of pressure but I felt we handled it well.

“It’s good and positive that we’re creating these chances early in the game, we didn’t create a lot in the second-half. But that’s obviously the way Partick play. They make the pitch big and they push bodies forward. But we felt as if we handled it well.”

He added: “At the end of the day you’re coming here wanting to win games of football and coming to Partick’s no different. You don’t want to come along and just be part of a party. Partick passing the ball about and getting an early goal which would have settled them down, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of that. We came here with a plan and we’ve come away with a point which is a good result against a team that doesn’t lose many matches.”

Partick Thistle: (4-3-3) Scott Fox, Stephen O’Donnell, Andy Dowie, Conrad Balatoni, Aaron Sinclair, Sean Welsh, Ross Forbes (Steven Lawless 58’), Stuart Bannigan, James Craigen (Christie Elliot 74’), Chris Erskine, Kris Doolan (Steven Craig 80’)

Subs not used: Glenn Daniels, Alan Archibald

Raith Rovers: (4-4-2) David McGurn, Jason Thomson, Simon Mensing, Laurie Ellis (Douglas Hill 61’), Eddie Malone, Allan Walker (Stuart Anderson 73’), Ross Callachan, Joe Hamill, Joe Cardle (Grant Anderson 81’), Brian Graham, Greig Spence

Subs not used: Josh Watt, Jordan Roberts.

Referee: Kevin Clancy

Attendance: 4963

Check out our match photos from the game on our official flickr site.

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