Suddenly the finishing line seems to have come into view for Partick Thistle. On a day when their closest rivals for the First Division championship – Morton – were coming unstuck just a few miles down the road in Kirkcaldy, the Maryhill side took a giant stride towards the title by getting the better of Cowdenbeath for the second time in four days, thanks to a goal in each half from Kris Doolan.
Scorers: Cowdenbeath - Moore 31; Partick Thistle - Doolan 12, 62
Though we may not have witnessed Alan Archibald’s men at their fluent best yesterday, they were still utterly dominant in this encounter and should have won by a far more convincing margin.
If clinching titles is all about building a winning momentum, then his side certainly found the right formula, this victory representing their eighth on the trot, and remarkably Archibald remains unbeaten since assuming responsibility for managerial duties at Firhill after Jackie McNamara’s departure to Dundee United back in January.
Archibald was quick to acknowledge however that they had needed to battle to gather yet another three points on this occasion. “They made it really hard for us and we didn’t make it easy for ourselves by missing some chances. But the energy and workrate from the players was fantastic – we really look like a team”.
Looking at the title race as it enters a crucial phase, he added: “We’ve never really looked at anybody else’s results – we knew we had our games in hand. We’ve kept it amongst ourselves, kept it private, worked really hard and did our talking on the pitch. We’ll just continue to do that”.
As was to be expected of a side that has been in such impressive form of late, Thistle wasted no time in laying siege to the Cowdenbeath goal and they made the breakthrough after only 12 minutes when Doolan burst through a square-looking home rearguard to calmly side-foot the ball beyond Colin Stewart. It looked as though it would only be a matter of when they would extend their advantage as they poured forward and the hosts struggled to venture out of their own half. A great opportunity was passed up as a James Craigen corner flashed across the face of Stewart’s goal but no Thistle player was close enough to apply the slightest of touches required to divert it into the net.
It hardly seemed to matter until, almost entirely against the run of play, Cowden conjured up an equaliser. A long throw from Scott Linton caught the visitors napping and Craig Moore was able to beat Scott Fox from close range.
While the near one-way flow of the game did not change, Thistle’s hard running and briskly confident approach was put in check for a while beyond the interval as Colin Cameron’s side dug in with gritty determination. It looked as though the game had swung back in the leaders’ favour when Stuart Bannigan drilled the ball home after a pounding run only for the effort to be ruled offside by the stand-side assistant.
The seemingly inevitable had only been temporarily put on hold however, and the visitors’ advantage was restored following a fine piece of individual skill by Craigen, who brought the ball down and then wrong-footed his marker before slinging over a wonderful cross for the hovering Doolan to send a header past Stewart at the far post.
Thistle remained in control but in the final minute they had to endure a particularly uncomfortable moment when a Jamie Stevenson free-kick cannoned off the post.
“We battled away and it was a massive improvement on Wednesday night,” insisted Cameron.