All too easy for Partick as they hammered hapless St Mirren to stay in contention for top spot in Group H, but it is doubtful they will get more of a cakewalk encounter all season.
At times the Jags looked sensational as they ripped their visitors to pieces, however the Buddies seemed several yards off the pace so nobody at Firhill should be getting carried away.
Such a battering of one of the favourites for promotion into the top league will only add fire to the raging expectation Partick now have to contend with following their top-six finish last time out, however manager Alan Archibald was happy to heap praise on his troops. He said: “It was a great performance, some of our one-two touch play was exquisite.”
Understandably Saints manager Jack Ross wasn’t as chipper as he accused his players of lacking the basic fundamentals needed to compete. He said: “We were desperately poor and I have told the players that. They need to go away and ask themselves a few questions.”
Ross had stated prior to kick off his sole focus was on the league this term, and his side didn’t look too interested throughout with only a late effort from Ian McShane and an early long-range hit from Jordan Kirkpatrick giving anything for Tomas Cerny in the home goal to deal with. Saints will be judged come 5 August when league hostilities commence.
Kirkpatrick’s effort aside, the visitors had struggled to make too many inroads against their top flight opponents and there was a sense of inevitability about Thistle’s 13th-minute opener. Kris Doolan was able to find time, albeit with a suspicion of offside, to draw debutant keeper Ross Stewart, and coolly pick his spot with consummate ease.
Thistle looked impressive and in the mood for goals, Saints meanwhile looked like they were in the mood to capitulate, or had picked up Alex Rae’s playbook in error, such was their inability to be an attacking force or even to compete. In short the Jags looked like a team primed and ready to go against an opponent maybe angling to be ready to go in a fortnight’s time.
Stewart denied Chris Erskine when in truth the former Dundee United man failed to properly connect following a horrendous error from new Saints midfielder Ian McShane. It was however little more than a reprieve for the bedraggled Buddies as minutes later Steven Lawless sailed into the area and drilled an angled drive low past Stewart at his near post.
Lawless was in on the act again just after the half mark, this time sweeping a left foot drive home from 20 yards. Again it was sparkling from Thistle in both finish and approach, but it was more defensive woe from the visitors who failed to either keep their shape or put in a physical challenge as they stood back and watched the ball being zipped around them.
Bad went to very embarrassing for Saints with the interval looming as Thistle hit a spectacular fourth courtesy of a perfectly executed set piece from summer recruit Blair Spittal. It said everything about the one-sided nature of the half when in truth Jack Ross would have been glad to get in without being further adrift as in truth it could have been even worse.
With the game over as any sort of a meaningful contest the second half always threatened to be a case of Thistle easing up and ensuring they made it to the end without needless injuries or suspensions. Someone clearly forgot to tell Thistle’s Abdul Osman this as twice within quick succession the captain careered into wild challenges on Stephen McGinn leaving referee Stephen Finnie no option other than to send him packing.
It was genuine folly from the experienced Osman; however Thistle instantly went nap with a goal of genuine quality. Erskine suckered Darren Whyte who had a starting competitive debut to forgot, looked up and curled over a glorious pass into the path of Spittal who without having to break stride cracked home a first-time drive from the edge of the area to round off the thrashing.