THESE desperate days for Danny Lennon show no sign of abating.
SCORERS: St Mirren - Mclean 50; Partick - Higginbotham 81, Forbes 84
A buoyant Partick Thistle ensured that, inside four minutes late on, his St Mirren side contrived to turn what looked like being a first, cried-out-for, win of the season into a third defeat in four Premiership outings. In doing so, the millstone round the neck of the Paisley club’s manager, carved from the record of only one win since their League Cup final success in March, weighs a little heavier. Not least because the defence of that trophy ended in midweek at the first time of asking, away to Championship side Queen of the South. It is more than unlucky for the likeable Lennon that his team’s risible run now extends to 13 games, having yielded a solitary victory.
In what effectively amounted to a post-match plea for clemency, the St Mirren manager handled himself much better than had been earlier true of his team.
He complimented his opponents on a level of football his side had reached “two-and-a-half years ago”, admitted his charges were “underachieving” with a performance that was a “shadow of themselves”, and, perhaps dangerously, contemplated not continuing in post. “We know things need to improve – I’m not naive, I know this is a results-driven business but I also know there are a lot of managers who have been on this same rollercoaster that I’m on just now but come through the other end,” he said. “Football is an emotional game but there needs to be a little bit of patience and there are clubs who have shown that. Look at St Johnstone last season, who had one point in four just like we had
but Steve Lomas took them to a highest-ever finish with them qualifying for Europe.
“I spoke to the chairman and they’ve been absolutely fantastic. Let me tell you one thing – if my journey at this football club ended tomorrow, I would have no regrets. It’s been a pleasure and it’s something I don’t want to give up easily. I love a challenge and I love being a manager at this proud football club and it’s not a nice part of the journey at the present time but it’s one that I relish and I will take the experience, put it in my toolbag and carry it along with me for the rest of what is hopefully a long managerial career.”
The shame of the situation that ended up further unfolding (or should that be unravelling?) for Lennon was that it overshadowed another sparkling afternoon for newly-promoted Thistle. They have now taken their tally to eight points from a possible 15. Moreover, any outcome other than a victory yesterday would have been an injustice – even if that scenario started to seem implausible in the half hour after Kenny McLean swept in a 50th-minute opener from a cross he took first-time on the edge of the box.
In the first period and when it counted in those transformational closing minutes, Alan Archibald’s side showed greater poise, crisper passing and greater penetration.
Karl Higginbotham levelled the scores with a sweetly-struck curling effort from the right-hand edge of the box eight minutes from time, and then, two minutes later, substitute Ross Forbes delivered a 19-yard drive from a Kris Doolan lay-off that was too powerful and well-directed for Saints keeper David Cornell.
The first half had brought a series of half-chances that put Partick in the ascendancy. At the other end, St Mirren’s need for extreme remedial measure was evident in Nice loan signing Stephane Bahoken being pitched into the home team before he had even had a training session. He had a couple of moments, with Conard Balatoni clearing an effort from the line early on but his over-eagerness led to him failing to reappear after the interval. The fact that Thistle ultimately refused to accept failure was what brought quiet satisfaction from Archibald on a day his team received remarkably raucous and voluminous support.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” the Thistle manager said. “It was a worry when we went a goal down and I thought it might be the old sob story after the game, having had so much possession and chances and not taken anything. It would have been a hard one to take. Last week, when we went a goal behind, we didn’t react positively [in losing 1-0 to Motherwell] but today was totally different and we kept passing the ball and I was delighted to get the two goals on the back of it. I’m just glad we’ve started so well and it gives them confidence and lets them go and play. The only thing missing so far is a home win but the fans have backed us 100 per cent.”