Partick Thistle 2-0 Livingston: Thistle back in the groove

Jagged edge: Aaron Sinclair, far right, gets up to head Thistle ahead
Jagged edge: Aaron Sinclair, far right, gets up to head Thistle ahead
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They took while to get going but a stirring start to the second half was enough to get Partick Thistle’s quest for the First Division title back on track after their stumble the previous week against Hamilton.

Under Jackie McNamara the Maryhill club have worked hard to shed the unpredictable tag which has been constantly applied to them over the years but when they followed up the imperious sweeping aside of championship rivals Dunfermline with the dispiriting reverse at New Douglas Park it looked like a case of the same old Thistle returning to the fore.

Perhaps with such foibles gnawing at the back of their minds the Firhill men looked initially tentative yesterday against a Livingston side who have been in decent form of late.

However a couple of early second-half goals, the second a thing of wonder from Stuart Bannigan, ensured they did enough to retain their hold on top spot, albeit only by the tightest of margins.

It wasn’t until around the half-hour mark that Thistle were seen as much of an attacking force, with Chris Erskine finishing a powerful run into the Livingston box with a curling shot that was just a fraction off target.

The winger followed this up with a devil of a cross that just evaded a touch from Kris Doolan.

Then Doolan himself sent in a low drive that slid past the far post with Andy McNeil well beaten.

For all their neat passing, the visitors rarely threatened, although Anthony Andrew tested Graeme Smith with a well-struck volley and Mark McNulty should have done better with free header in the Thistle box.

Showing a real sense of urgency and notably stepping up the pace after the interval, McNamara’s men effectively sealed the outcome with a quick two-goal burst.

The opener came from a straightforward set piece with Aaron Sinclair seemingly having the freedom of Firhill to head in Ross Forbes’ free kick.

Just minutes later the Jags doubled their lead with a majestic finish from Bannigan. Somehow the midfielder managed to impart both a curl and dip on his 20-yard effort and the crowd fairly gasped as it dropped into the net.

It could have been worse for Livingston as Jesus Garcia Tena so nearly turned the ball into his own net and Doolan again went close with header and, although they regained some composure thereafter, they rarely looked like finding a way back into the game.

“In the second half we really kicked on and passed the ball better and quicker”, reflected McNamara afterwards.

“I’m delighted with the win because that’s a good Livingston side we played today”.