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Inaugural Scottish Premiership game ends in an entertaining stalemate

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A balmy summer Friday night in the west end of Glasgow greeted a new dawn in Scottish football with the inaugural match of the SPFL Premiership.

And like someone who came into some money and decided to tart up their premises with the latest mod cons on offer, Thistle rolled out the red carpet welcoming the TV cameras into their ground, bathed in glorious sunshine and a lush green surface awaiting the players.

For the Jags a successful campaign would be survival which will be made a tad easier for them now that administration hit Hearts begin the season with a 15 point deficit, whilst Dundee United will be looking for a much improved league showing than last term when they failed to deliver what was expected of them.

Pre-match though the omens did not look good for the hosts when the traditional ceremony of unfurling the flag in honour of their First Division success last term turned into a bit of a damp squib, though it was quickly followed by a responsive minutes applause in memory of former Thistle favourite Colin McAdam who passed away at the age of 61 on Thursday.

Somewhat predictably also was the pantomime villain booing that United boss Jackie McNamara endured on his return to his old stomping ground.

As a result of the national sides coupon busting result in Croatia, allied to both Celtic and St Johnstone’s wins in European competition there appears to be a definite sense of optimism amongst the Scottish football fraternity and this is especially true of the Thistle faithful who were celebrating their return to the top table with the big boys of the game north of the border, after a nine-year absence.

Despite a bright start from the hosts, it was the Tayside men who came closest to breaking the deadlock when in the 15th minute Scott Fox was forced to parry a David Goodwillie header.

A minute later and ex-Jag Paul Paton tested his former team-mate with a powerful effort from outside the box which Fox tipped over.

However the longer the first half went on the notion that the Premiership new boys would find themselves out of their depth against their more experienced counterparts diminished, as the Maryhill team enjoyed good periods of possession creating several half chances with the United defence failing on several occasions to clear their lines and being forced into having to rely on Radoslaw Cierzniak to pull off a couple of tasty saves.

Perhaps feeling that his side were failing to create enough problems for the Partick back four, Jackie McNamara made a half time substitution replacing the ineffectual Cifcti with the exciting talent of Gary Mackay-Steven.

Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

Pic: Phil McCloy | Scotzine.com

One man who certainly has a lot to prove this season is David Goodwillie whose impressive form in his first spell with the Tannadice side earned the Scotland international a big money move to Blackburn Rovers and now back in the colours of United, albeit on loan, he was tasked to provide the cutting edge for the visitors.

Following on from his effort in the first half he tested Thistle’s keeper again with a close range shot in the 54th minute in search of that elusive first goal.

Six minutes later and it was the turn of Jags striker Kris Doolan to try his luck with a hammer of a shot which was touched wide by Cierzniak.

With twenty minutes remaining things appeared to getting a little heated when after Goodwillie beat Fox to the ball only to fail to convert. In the immediate aftermath a loose ball in midfield led to a clash between Calum Butcher and Gary Fraser which resulted in both players receiving cautions from Craig Thomson.

Substitutes John Baird and Brian Graham were introduced by both bosses and they each came so very near to grabbing the opener only to be denied by the shot stoppers in each goal.

Nine minutes before the end and it was Jags left back Aaron Taylor-Sinclair who tried his luck with a low shot which scrapped by the right hand post, before a Ross Forbes shot was beaten away by the United keeper to deny Thistle a late winner.

So a scoreless opening to the start of the new season but there were certainly plenty of positives to take from this encounter for both managers as another year of the weird, wonderful and very often frustrating football season kicks off for lovers of the Scottish game.

Partick: Fox, O’Donnell, Taylor-Sinclair, Welsh, Muirhead, Balatoni, Fraser (Forbes 83), Bannigan, Craigen (Elliot 65), Lawless, Doolan (Baird 72)

Subs not used: Gallacher, Kerr, Osbourne, Mukendi

Dundee Utd: Cierzniak, Watson, Robertson, Dillon, Butcher, Dowe (Graham 71), Armstrong, Paton, Gauld (Erskine 63), Ciftci (Mackay-Steven 45), Goodwillie

Subs not used: Rankin, Souttar, Gardyne, McCallum

Referee: Craig Thomson

Attendance: 7822

Check out Phil McCloy’s match photos from last night’s game at Firhill on our official Flickr site.

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