THERE may have to be a hasty revision of those pre-season predictions. Partick Thistle, it seems, have not been paying too much heed to the doom-laden punditry.
Ross County 1-3 Partick Thistle
Scorers: Ross County - Carey (71); Partick Thistle - Doolan (18), Lawless (53, 59)
In cruising to a surprisingly comprehensive victory over Ross County in Dingwall, the Jags performed with a verve that made a mockery of widespread suggestions that they would toil in the Scottish Premiership.
Two games hardly make a season, of course, but after taking four points from a possible six, early indications are that they will be an asset to the top flight. County, last season’s eye-catching underdogs, were outplayed and out-fought from the first whistle by a team brimming with energy and invention.
It was interesting, too, to note that the Jags’ line-up was comprised almost entirely of members of their First Division title-winning squad. As second-half substitute and debutant, Kallum Higginbotham, observed, there may have to be patience on the sidelines among him and his fellow summer arrivals.
The Firhill club have recruited from far and wide, with Spaniard Simon Colina Dominguez, Congolese Henoc Mukendi and Mexican Gabriel Piccolo adding an exotic flavour. Higginbotham, though, knows the foreigners, as well as tried-and-tested British performers like him, Ross Forbes, Isaac Osbourne, Mark Kerr and Paul Gallacher, will have to bide their time for now. “During the game, I was saying to Isaac Osbourne that it could be hard for us to break into the starting line-up,” the 24 year-old said. “If they keep playing like that, we’ll be warming the bench for a while yet. Why would the manager change it? The lads on the sidelines just have to wait patiently and take our chances when they come.”
Higginbotham, who returned north from a spell with Huddersfield, might have made the perfect debut from the bench but for the offside flag. The disallowed “goal” late on with Partick leading 3-1 was reminiscent of the Stevie May finish that stood for St Johnstone against Hearts.
“I don’t even think John Baird touched the ball on the way in,” lamented Higginbotham. “It would have been nice to get a goal on my debut but it wasn’t to be. But it was a great day. If anyone thought we were going to struggle in this league I think we have shown them otherwise, both in the game last Friday night and here.
“We can’t say too much because we are only two games in, but if we play like that we will not be far away from doing what Ross County did last year.”
Kris Doolan fired the opener from close range after 18 minutes before Stevie Lawless fired a double early in the second half to put the Jags in command.
Graham Carey pulled one back with 19 minutes left, but it was a dismal day for County, who have now lost their opening two games. “We were not good enough. Partick were the better side, full stop,” said County’s stand-in captain, Grant Munro.