A BIT like their newly adopted iconic mascot Kingsley, Partick Thistle are a combination of likeable and something to be feared these days.
Four wins on the trot in the Premiership, the first time they have achieved such a statistic in the top division for nigh on 40 years, shows that opponents should be advisedly wary of Alan Archibald’s side as well as admiring their emphasis on playing a measured passing game.
That they were quite some way short of their best yet still claimed the three points yesterday shows there is also a steeliness of character about them too. Ross County were the better side prior to the interval and appeared to have a better sense of the route to goal. Unfortunately when the only one of the game came along their captain Andrew Davies was facing the wrong direction and put it in his own net.
The Highlanders also had grounds for feeling aggrieved that a couple of shouts for a penalty in either half didn’t go their way. “We’ve won ugly,” conceded Archibald, who acknowledged that Thistle were second best before the break but was delighted with a much improved performance after it. His side are knocking on the door of the Top Six but he was keen to manage expectations and focus on the now.
“We’ve kept on doing what we’re doing and the win here against Dundee United turned our season. They are a great bunch of players who work really hard and there’s a great togetherness about them.
Both these sides have served up their share of entertaining games to date, but yesterday wasn’t one of them. The first half in particular was a less than spectacular stalemate, although for County it was a tale of missing the few genuine opportunities that arose, for which they ultimately paid a hefty price. As fate would have it probably of their best chances fell to Davies who hit a volley from almost the same position from which he would find his own net later on, but it was confidently blocked by Tomas Cerny.
The fact that a goal finally arrived early in the second half was reason for a bit of early seasonal rejoicing. However, poor Davies certainly wouldn’t have seen it that way. Stuart Bannigan swung in an inviting cross which seemed to catch the County defender in two minds and he ended up guiding the ball beyond his own goalkeeper Scott Fox.
If Thistle were a shade fortunate to find themselves ahead they didn’t bother dwelling on it. Suddenly an extra surge of energy poured into their ranks and they took command. Raids down either flank had County struggling to stay in the game.
The visitors were riled however, when Jackson Irvine was toppled in the home penalty box by Abdul Osman but nothing was given, and in addition had also had a rather less obvious appeal earlier in the game when Jamie Reckford had a similar tumble. At the other end Kris Doolan sent a looping header off the crossbar and somehow Fox turned his follow up against the bar again and the ball was scrambled away.
As the chances continued to pile up for the hosts Mathias Pogba should have done better than send a header off target when unmarked, but in the end it did not stop Thistle adding to their new-found reputation for consistency.
“Their goal knocked the stuffing out of us,” admitted County manager Jim McIntyre, “but the referee’s had two key decisions in the game and in my view he’s got both of them wrong.”