Ladbrokes Championship: Partick Thistle 2 Dunfermline 0: 08/12/18

Buoyed by a 3-0 win over Morton, Dunfermline Athletic travelled to the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill to face a Partick Thistle side languishing at the foot of the table. Fresh from their relegation out of the top flight, the Maryhill men were it would seem struggling to adapt to the Championship and the Fifers hoped that would continue for at least another 90 minutes.

No surprise that manager Allan Johnston named an unchanged starting eleven with Mark Durnan returning to the squad taking the place of Stuart Morrison on the bench. Due to injury Partick were without their rising star, 17 year old, Aidan Fitzpatrick while Chris Erskine and Niall Keown dropped out meaning starts for Miles Storey, Daniel Jefferies and Andrea Mbuyi-Mutumbo.

Faissal El Bakhtaoui kicked the match off but it was his keeper who had to make the first hold of the match taking James Penrice’s long range effort after just 45 seconds. The visitors came close in fifth minute when El Bakhtaoui forced the ball out to the left from where Robbie Muirhead returned a good ball to the far side and Faiss got in a shot that travelled tantalisingly outside the left upright.

Two minutes later Aidan Keena tried a shot from 25 yards out but it went straight into the hands of keeper Jamie Sneddon. Then in ninth minute Tam Scobbie was penalised for a challenge that he had little control over and from 40 yards out Muirhead was able to float the ball to the far post and earn the first corner of the afternoon. Jackson Longridge sent that too close to Sneddon and the Thistle keeper held.

For all the Fifers good start it was Partick who were to open the scoring in 12th minute. A cross from the left was headed away by Lee Ashcroft but Blair SPITTAL was perfectly placed 20 yards out to sink the ball into the bottom left. 1-0

Sean McGinty cut down Keena to earn the visitors a free kick right on the edge of the Thistle box, left side. After treatment to the on loan Jambo, James Craigen whacked the setpiece low but wide right.

Lee Robinson was back in action in 21 minutes to save a serious shot on an angle from the right and from the follow up, Andrea Mbuyi-Mutombo headed over. The Jags continue to press and Robinson had to block a good effort from Mbuyi-Mutombo and then the defence closed down another chance on the edge of their box.

A break allowed Joe Thomson from the right pick out El Bakhtaoui 30 yards out. He tried a shot but again Sneddon held comfortably. Thistle looked confident and had a period of supremacy during which Kris Doolan burst into the right side of the Fifers box and brought another timely save out of Robinson. Storey robbed Longridge to feed Spittal but Storey’s subsequent cross lacked any Thistle takers.

A good passing move earned the Pars a shot at goal and Muirhead was unlucky to see his dipping shot from 25 yards bounce over off the crossbar. James Vincent earned a 42nd minute corner, Ashcroft tried to head down Longridge’s delivery but only another corner ensued. This time Muirhead sent over the ball from the left and Danny Devine was desperately unlucky hitting the crossbar with his header.

Dunfermline finished the half strongly, El Bakhtaoui having a shot from outside the box blocked and then from a Williamson corner picking out El Bakhtaoui whose on target header was clawed out from under his crossbar by Sneddon and over for an added time corner. Unfortunately Muirhead’s cross did not change anything and the home side took their 1-0 lead into break.

Half time: Partick Thistle 1 Dunfermline 0

Andrew McCarthy had been a late first half sub for the dangerous Andrea Mbuyi-Mutumbo so the teams resumed with no further changes. Ninety seconds into the half Storey ran on to a flick forward and Robinson diverted the former Swindon Town youth’s effort behind for the home side’s first corner of the day. That was overhit and easily defended.

The Pars were handed a 50th minute corner when Christie Elliott nervously headed a Thomson cross behind and Devine powerfully met Muirhead’s delivery only to see his shot blocked.

Back at the other end Storey evaded the offside trap to get through for a shot but again Robinson came out on top. A Thistle free kick from 30 yards out was cleared only for Spittal to latch on to another opportunity to shoot but Robinson fell to his left to save. His counterpart had to be even more agile to then get down to his left to halt a low Thomson rocket from 20 yards out.

Thistle were to score a second in the eleventh minute of the second half. Elliott switched play from right to left to set up Penrice for a driving run into the Pars box. The full back’s low ball from the left into the six yard box was flicked back towards goal by STOREY and despite a valiant effort by Robinson to try and stop the ball crossing his line, referee Kevin Clancy deemed it a goal. The keeper would subsequently argue profusely that the ball never crossed his goal line. 2-0

With just over half an hour remaining the Pars management made a double substitution introducing Tom Beadling and Myles Hippolyte for James Vincent and James Craigen. It had potential to have an immediate impact when El Bakhtaoui cut back from the left and Hippolyte met the ball to volley narrowly over the bar.

Dunfermline certainly upped their assault with Hippolyte getting very close to a Muirhead cross but then being caught offside when Williamson returned. Thistle responded a strong run by Elliott earning a corner when his neat pass for Spittal to run onto was turned behind.

The home captain saw yellow in 71 minutes after he abruptly ended a Longridge run but Muirhead sent the free kick high and wide left from 25 yards out. Beadling got an attempt in after El Bakhtaoui and Williamson combined and then Keena twisted and turned to get in a shot that was blocked on the edge of the box.

Hippolyte tried to find goal from 25 yards out but hit the sidenetting on the left. Lewis McCann replaced Robbie Muirhead in 86 minutes and from a free kick 27 yards out Hippolyte struck his shot wide left. Sub McCann had a couple of chances but he was no more successful than those who had tried so hard before him.

Thistle saw out the remaining minutes to register their first league win since 22nd September, their first under Gary Caldwell. The three points lifted them off the foot of the table and took them to within five points of the Pars in seventh place immediately above them.

PARTICK THISTLE: Jamie Sneddon: Daniel Jefferies, Sean McGinty, Tam Scobbie, James Penrice: Christie Elliott, Blair Spittal, Stuart Bannigan (c), Miles Storey (Jai Quitongo 88): Andrea Mbuyi-Mutumbo (Andrew McCarthy 45): Kris Doolan (Chris Erskine 80).
SUBS NOT USED: Niall Keown, Brice Ntambwe, Jack Storer, Jamie Stevenson (GK)
SCORERS: Spittal (12), Storey (56)
YELLOW CARD: Bannigan (71), McCarthy (75)

DUNFERMLINE: Lee Robinson: Ryan Williamson, Lee Ashcroft (c), Danny Devine, Jackson Longridge: James Vincent (Tom Beadling 59): James Craigen (Myles Hippolyte 59), Joe Thomson, Robbie Muirhead (Lewis McCann 86): Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Aidan Keena.
SUBS NOT USED: Malaury Martin, Lewis Martin, Mark Durnan, Cammy Gill (GK)
YELLOW CARD: Hippolyte (68)

REFEREE: Kevin Clancy

NEXT MATCH: Ladbrokes Championship (away) v Queen of the South, Saturday 15th December, 3.00pm kick off at Palmerston Park.

1st prize in half time draw #77265

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