THISTLE secured their Premiership status with an ultimately comfortable win as Saints were sent tumbling another step closer to the relegation trapdoor. The Buddies were given a stay of execution by Motherwell’s failure to win but their fate is all but sealed.
Scorers: Partick Thistle - Stevenson 68; Doolan 82; Lawless 90
It may have been different had referee Craig Thomson awarded a penalty for Callum Booth’s clear foul on Jason Naismith when the score was level. However, luck has rarely gone St Mirren’s way this season and Gary Teale, a frustrated manager, observed: “It was a stonewall penalty but the ref didn’t see it that way. Too many decisions like that have gone against us.
“There’s not a lot between the teams and it comes down to small margins.
“We’d got back into the game and then Jason got ahead of their player and was brought down. It was a huge decision at that stage of the game.”
Lyle Taylor had Thistle’s first effort when he shot narrowly wide of Mark Ridgers’ right-hand upright from the edge of the box.
Despite their predicament at the foot of the table, the Buddies tried to place the accent on a neat passing game and the tactic took them into the home box when Kieran Sadlier’s pass released James Dayton.
However, Booth’s well-timed tackle stopped the Saints man in his tracks. Thistle, though, began to look much more dangerous, launching a wave of attacks which pinned the visitors back.
On 18 minutes, Booth’s driven cross just eluded Taylor on the six-yard line but the ball fell for Stephen O’Donnell on the right edge of the box. His cross was punched away from Ryan Stevenson by Ridgers but the Jags kept the ball alive, O’Donnell picking out the unmarked Steven Lawless. Just 16 yards from goal, Lawless looked a good bet to break the deadlock but his shot was deflected off target from the boot of a desperately lunging defender.
Partick threatened again when Kallum Higginbotham released Stevenson on the right and his cross found Lawless 12 yards from goal. This time the striker’s netbound shot was tipped over the bar by Ridgers.
At the other end, Thistle had a let-off when Booth appeared to upend Naismith as he ran free in the home box. However, referee Thomson waved play on to the fury of the Paisley contingent.
There was a further scare for the Jags on the restart when Conrad Balatoni and Scott Fox left a harmless through ball for each other.
Eventually Fox attempted to take charge but the Thistle keeper booted his attempted clearance against Steven Thompson and breathed a sigh of relief as the ball rebounded just wide of his empty goal.
But Partick threatened again when a crisp passing move ended with Thomas Reilly bravely blocking Higginbotham’s thunderbolt.
The opener finally arrived when Higginbotham turned provider with a deep cross from the right flank which found Stevenson leaping above the visiting defence to power a header high into the net.
Thistle made victory certain when substitute Kris Doolan was on hand to turn the ball home from close range following a scramble in the Saints box.
The Buddies misery was compounded when Alan Gow fired over an open goal in the dying minutes before Lawless rifled in the third.
Teale added: “I didn’t think it was a 3-0 game, but that’s been the story of our season. Now we have to look to the future and I believe it can be bright.”
Jags manager Alan Archibald said: “That’s us safe now I’m delighted to do it at home and off our own back. It was great to get the victory and a clean sheet too. At one point I thought it was going to be hard to break St Mirren down because they are a hard team to play against.
“Something was missing in the final third in the first half, but fair play to the boys they kept on going and we got our just rewards.”
Partick: Fox, O’Donnell, Booth, Balatoni, Bannigan, Stevenson, Lawless, Frans, Higginbotham (Fraser 85), Osman, Taylor (Doolan 76). Subs not used: Gallacher, Craigen, Elliott, Richards-Everton, Wilson.
St Mirren: Ridgers, Naismith, Baird, Kelly, Tesseslaar, Mallan, Reilly (Gow 78), Dayton, Sadlier (Brown 68), Wylde, Thompson (Arquin 76). Subs not used: Kello, Genev, Morgan, Cuddihy.
Referee: Craig Thomson. Attendance: 3,865