IF WINNING runs are all about momentum this was a victory where Aberdeen not only moved down a gear or two but also alternated between cruising and juddering.
For 45 minutes the chances of them matching the heady days of the Alex Ferguson era by making it five wins out of five in their opening league fixture seemed open to doubt. However, having taken the lead through a controversial strike after the break by Adam Rooney, with the Irishman having seemingly handled the ball in the build up, they quickly helped themselves to another through Kenny McLean and wrapped up the points in a manner in which their most famous former manager would have approved.
It was pretty harsh on Thistle. A rocky start to the season, culminating in a midweek League Cup exit at the hands of Championship leaders Falkirk, meant they were looking for a solid performance to give them a chance in this game and their players served one up. The manner in which they fell behind yesterday grated with all connected with the Firhill club.
“Yes, it was a handball,” was Thistle manager Alan Archibald’s emphatic verdict.
“The referee’s got to give it – I don’t know if he didn’t see it or didn’t think it was handball. It’s such a pivotal point in the game as well. We’ve just come out at the start of the second half and were playing really well, then that takes the wind out of our sails. I think everybody in the stadium saw it. We just got to move on from it, but it’s a sore one.”
In a departure from the normal script in these situations his counterpart did not try to present a parallel view of the proceedings.
“My first thought is that it has come up and hit him (Rooney) on the hand,” confessed Derek McInnes, “obviously it has a major impact as he goes and sticks it in the net. If it happens anywhere else I’m not so sure there would be a big clamour for a free kick, but I can understand why Thistle feel aggrieved.
“I think though our boys showed good experience and determination to make sure the game went our way. Normally away from home in a tight game you normally need your centre forward and goalkeeper to play well and thankfully we had that.”
In a first half which was remarkable only for its lack of incident, McInnes’s men were curiously flat as if the late summer sunshine at Firhill had reduced them to a state of torpor.
There might have been all sorts of clever interchanging of positions by their front men, but the Thistle defence found the ponderous build-up play by the visitors easy to mop up and looked comfortable whatever the permutation coming at them.
The hosts didn’t pose much of threat themselves until just after half-time when a blistering Sean Welsh drive stung Danny Ward’s finger tips and from the resulting corner Jack Hendry sent a drive just fractionally off target. It was perhaps fitting that an Aberdeen display which had up to this point been unconvincing was topped off by them moving ahead with Rooney’s debatable strike.
The Dons’ talisman seemed to bring a wayward shot from McLean under control with the help of his hand, but he did what any striker would do and focused solely on drilling the ball fiercely beyond Tomas Cerny. The angst was then compounded when David Goodwillie sent in an angled shot which Cerny did well to get a hand to but the ball rolled invitingly to McLean who could hardly miss with the goal yawning in front of him.
In fairness to Archibald’s men they didn’t crumple and still managed to muster a few decent attempts at clawing their way back into the game but even when they threatened as Callum Booth did with a rasping shot they found Ward once again in imperious form.
Partick: Cerny, Miller, Frans (Hendry 42), Lindsay, Booth, Lawless, Welsh (Stevenson 61), Bannigan, Osman, McDaid, Pogba (Doolan 70).
Aberdeen: N Ward, Logan, Taylor, Considine, Shinnie, Jack, McGinn, McLean, Hayes (Flood 67), Goodwillie (Robson 85), Rooney (Parker 75).
Referee: S Finnie. Attendance: 4,940.