I had to do a report on a game for a journalist group I am in last week and as I had no Forfar Athletic/Forfar Farmington game to go to, I chose to do Partick Thistle against Celtic.
Partick Thistle 1 Celtic 2
Doolan 65 Samaras 33
Premiership leaders Celtic moved six points clear of Aberdeen with a game in hand as they squeezed past Partick Thistle 2-1 in an even Glasgow derby at Firhill.
Thistle manager Alan Archibald named the same side that won at Inverness last week whilst Celtic manager Neil Lennon made two changes from the Ajax win in midweek, Scott Brown and Joe Ledley coming in for James Forrest and Charlie Mulgrew.
Celtic had the first chance of the game in the 4th minute, Anthony Stokes setting up Ledley but he fired wide of the mark.
Kallum Higginbotham’s 25 yard shot in the seventh was diverted into the path of Aaron Taylor-Sinclair but his cross was nodded out for a corner by Izaguirre. From the resultant corner Stuart Bannigan stabbed wide.
In the twelfth minute Isaac Osbourne was cautioned for a fair challenge on Scott Brown just outside the D of the penalty area. Stokes’ free kick went nowhere near the target and wasted the opportunity.
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair did well to beat Mikael Lustig but could only fire his effort at Fraser Forster in the 21st minute whilst Stokes had a shot parried away from goal by Scott Fox eight minutes later.
Ledley blasted over again before Georgios Samaras headed home from an Izaguirre corner in the 33rd minute to give Celtic the lead. That was Samaras’ 50th league goal for the club.
Less than a minute later Lustig split the defence open to allow Teemu Pukki a chance but Fox did well to push his shot wide.
Higginbotham went close with another long range shot, this time the ball went inches past the post seconds before Pukki drew another excellent save from Fox. From the corner, Virgil van Dijk nodded wide.
Partick had the first shot in the second half, Bannigan firing into Forster’s arms three minutes into the half.
Sean Welsh and Higginbotham combined to set up the latter and his excellent chest and volley would have dipped into the net had it not been wide in the 52nd minute.
Higginbotham had yet another chance, Taylor-Sinclair laying the ball off for him to curl wide after 58 minutes. Stuart Bannigan was then replaced by Christie Elliot. Beram Kayal was booked within 60 seconds of that sub for pointlessly pulling down Taylor-Sinclair.
Higginbotham shot wide again in the 60th minute after Elliot’s effort was blocked by a grounded Izaguirre.
Higginbotham’s corner in the 64th minute was headed towards goal by Conrad Balatoni and Kris Doolan flicked the ball over Fraser Forster but it hit the bar. The ball wan’t cleared properly as Kallum Higginbotham picked it up just outside the box, passed to James Craigen, he gave it back to Higginbotham who squared it into the box and Kris Doolan knocked it past a defender before knocking home from six yards to the delight of the Firhill support. This equaliser was much deserved as Thistle had been the much better side in the second half.
Amiro Balde came on for Kayal after the goal whilst Efe Ambrose was booked for bundling over Stephen O’Donnell. Taylor-Sinclair went close with the free kick from Ambrose’s foul, Forster having to go low to save.
Joe Ledley scuffed another shot wide from a Pukki cross in the 68th minute whilst Izaguirre blasted over after a good run forward. Pukki then went off in the 71st minute, youngster Dylan McGeouch coming on in his place.
Stokes nodded poorly into Fox’s arms in the 72nd minute whilst at the other end Higginbotham forced another save from Forster.
Celtic took the lead again in the 74th minute, poor defending allowed Amiro Balde to run with the ball, beating Aaron Muirhead before slotting under Fox for his second goal of the season. In the celebrations Izaguirre took a knock to the head and had to be stretchered off, Nir Biton replacing him.
Balatoni volleyed over for Thistle whilst Ross Forbes came on for James Craigen in the 78th minute.
Sean Welsh went close with seven minutes left, Forster again having to go low to save.
Georgios Samaras was forced to go off with a gashed knee and as Celtic had used all three subs, the Scottish Champions had to play the last five minutes with ten men. Forbes also went close with a long range effort, Forster yet again saving.
Stephen O’Donnell’s shot from far out went miles wide in the 93rd minute and that was the last effort on goal in the game in an even game.
Celtic are now six points ahead of Aberdeen and seven ahead of Inverness, who also have a game in hand like Celtic whilst Partick stay on 13 points in seventh.
Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Fox, O’Donnell, Muirhead, Balatoni, Taylor-Sinclair, Osbourne, Welsh, Craigen (Forbes 78), Bannigan (Elliot 58), Higginbotham, Doolan.
Subs not used: Lawless, Piccolo, Baird, Kerr, Gallacher (gk)
Celtic (4-2-3-1): Forster, Lustig, Ambrose, Van Dijk, Izaguirre (Biton 77), Brown, Kayal (Balde 65), Stokes, Ledley, Samaras, Pukki (McGeouch 71).
Subs not used: Rogic, Atajic, Fisher, Zaluska (gk)