FIRST Division leaders Partick Thistle, who face a crucial clash against promotion rivals Morton tonight, were dealt a distraction yesterday with the news that defender Aaron Muirhead has been issued with a notice of complaint by the Scottish Football Association.
The SFA’s compliance officer Vincent Lunny has contacted Muirhead following his red card against Queen of the South in Sunday afternoon’s dramatic Ramsdens Cup final defeat.
The 22-year-old was sent off for head-butting Doonhamers captain Chris Higgins after he and his team-mates celebrated in the face of the Jags player after he had a late penalty kick saved.
Muirhead is charged with breaching Disciplinary Rule 201 which pertains to ‘excessive misconduct involving violent conduct, dissent, the use of offensive, insulting and abusive language and the adoption of aggressive behaviour towards a match official’. No fixed suspension has been offered and the principal hearing date is tomorrow, with Muirhead having until today to respond.
Muirhead would not have been involved in tonight’s top-of-the-table match in any case – he was already suspended after being sent off against Raith Rovers last midweek.
Stuart Bannigan, James Craigen and Chris Erskine are all rated as doubts for Partick after picking up knocks, with skipper Paul Paton and the experienced Hugh Murray both still out with knee and foot injuries respectively. Recent signing from Dunfermline Jordan McMillan has been ill but former Pars player Andy Dowie is in line for his debut in place of Muirhead as player/manager Alan Archibald has ruled himself out.
“We could be a bit light on numbers but are well up for the game,” said Archibald. “The substitutes that came on at Livingston all made a good impact but we have had substitutes making an impact all season.”
Morton manager Allan Moore – who has former Thistle favourite Martin Hardie back after suspension – does not believe that Partick’s Ramsdens Cup final defeat will have any impact this evening. “You could say it was good news for us in that Thistle played for an extra half-hour and could be a bit fatigued,” said Moore, “but you could also say they will be more determined to win the title after losing the Ramsdens Cup.”
“To me what matters most is what the Morton players do. If we play like we can then we can win.
“We also have to win it whereas a draw suits them and that makes things easier in my mind.”