Partick Thistle have today extended the contract of flying full-back Mustapha Dumbuya until 2018, ending a period of uncertainly while the club and the Sierra Leonean thrashed out the details.
There is no doubt that Alan Archibald’s side have improved immeasurably since the right-sided defender came into the team.
The departure of Stephen O’Donnell this summer left Archibald with a void needing filled. The Jags boss initially thought he had his man in Gary Miller. The former St Johnstone man had performed competently in a back-up role at McDiarmid Park and seemed ready to take his game to the next level after being instilled as first choice right-back at Firhill. However, things haven’t worked out for Miller so far.
Ever since they came into the top flight, Thistle have relied heavily on the play of their two full-backs, both of whom are required to get forward and facilitate the attack whenever possible. They’ve reined in the approach somewhat since the early days in the Premiership, where it wasn’t unusual to see both O’Donnell and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (remember him?) among the furthest forward on attacks. But it’s still an important part of the team and it seems Miller struggled with the increased emphasis on the attacking side of his game.
Miller’s slow start encouraged Archibald to keep looking for a defender who could contribute further forward and he finally got his man when Dumbuya joined after the summer transfer window had closed, the former Notts County man initially agreeing a one-year deal.
Right from his debut against Dundee it was clear he brought an extra spark to the Thistle attack. He eagerness to sprint down the wing would either faciliate two-on-one scenarios against the opposing defender or encourage his team-mate to drift inside, getting more bodies into the penalty area.
Thistle were robbed that day as they hit the woodwork three times and allowed Dundee to snatch a victory. However, it was clear to see that this was a much more competitive side, particularly in attack, and things soon began to turn around after a 3-0 win over Dundee United.
There is little doubting Dumbuya’s importance to the squad and the contribution to Thistle’s turnaround. The Jags have lost four of the 10 games in which he’s started, and seven of the eight in which he hasn’t - ironically the lone victory was kick-started by Miller, replacing the injured Dumbuya, when he netted the first goal in a 2-1 win at McDiarmid Park. In terms of goalscoring they’ve netted 14 times in matches with him, and only four without.
After signing today’s deal, Dumbuya told Press Association Sport: “I am very pleased. I am glad it is over and done with.”
Partick Thistle fans will be glad as well.