PARTICK Thistle fans are waking up today to a world in which their team are rooted to the bottom of the Scottish Premiership, and yesterday’s 1-0 defeat by Dundee will feel like a particularly bad dream.
How else to explain hitting the bar twice, hitting the post, and wasting several other chances before being suckered with a Greg Stewart counter late in the match? All that before hearing Kilmarnock, previously the laughing stock of the top flight, had picked up their first league win of the season to jump ahead of them in the table.
Unfortunately, playing well and failing to secure victory has been a staple of the Thistle side since they first made it back into the top flight in 2013. What is particularly concerning is that, prior to yesterday, they failed to play with any sort of fluidity this campaign, and failure to take three points from a match in which they managed to turn it on is a massive worry going forward.
“The amount of chances we made we could have won a couple of games the way we’ve been playing,” reflected boss Alan Archibald. “They did everything we asked of them. We played at a good tempo, created a number of chances, and I think it’s only natural that nervousness creeps in. But it’s hard to take any positives when we’re bottom of the league. We need to start getting some victories.”
The hosts began with a terrific tempo and spurned three great chances to open the scoring in the first 12 minutes. New signing Robbie Muirhead was thrust into the starting XI and the young attacker was at the heart of every Thistle move, though he should have done better with his fifth-minute chance than to blast the ball straight at Scott Bain from four yards.
The on-loan United attacker then played in Kris Doolan to fire just wide of the far post. The striker was then extremely unlucky to see an acrobatic overhead kick come crashing back into play after hitting the crossbar.
Dundee finally got to grips with the match and were able to dictate play at their own tempo. They had their first real chance just before the half-hour when Nicky Low should have done better to punish a Liam Lindsay mistake. After dispossessing the youngster on the edge of his own box, Low could only fire into the side-netting. Two minutes later Thistle hit the woodwork for a second time when Ryan Stevenson hammered a shot off the post after being put through by Muirhead. The young attacker then showed his willingness to contribute on the defensive side by blocking a goalbound Gary Irvine shot.
The sense that it wasn’t going to be Thistle’s day became evident halfway through the second period when they struck the frame of the goal for the third time. Again it was Stevenson with the effort, and, while the attacker may call himself unlucky, his free header from eight yards really should have made the net bulge.
There didn’t seem much on when Stewart picked the ball up at the halfway line before embarking on the game-winning run. With Thistle stretched at the back, the attacker was allowed to drive forward, get to the edge of the penalty area and use his lethal left foot to curl the ball around Tomas Cerny.
The goal deflated the hosts, who withdrew Muirhead and Stevenson with the hope that some fresh legs would help find the equaliser. Instead, it was Dundee who should have netted the second as Stewart and substitute Rory Loy somehow conspired to bungle on a two-on-one with Cerny.