No. of Shots
Shots on Target
Freddie Woodman, Luke Hendrie , Kristopher Ajer, Scott Boyd, Rory McKenzie, Greg Taylor, Gary Dicker, Jordan Jones (Josh Umerah 78), Sean Longstaff (Iain Wilson 72), Connor Sammon, Kris Boyd.
Subs Not Used: Jamie MacDonald, Karleigh Osbourne, Martin Smith, Adam Frizzell, Callum Roberts.
David Shaw @ Rugby Park
Thistle arrived at Rugby Park for another one of those six-pointers that have consistently sprung up over the last few years. It has been Thistle who have almost always come out on top in these fixtures and with their recent good run of results, coupled with Killie’s horrendous home form, it would take a mighty performance from Ayrshire’s finest to claim all three points. John Beaton provided this week’s stand up comedy.
Once again, Killie started the brightest with Jones, Longstaff and McKenzie controlling the midfield. Longstaff cut inside after just six minutes but blasted wildly over the bar as the home team stamped their early authority on the game. Kris Boyd found himself in acres of space at the back post after 15 minutes but his header back across the goal just eluded the incoming Sammon and the ball was cleared.
Killie’s early dominance forced a number of corners and a Scott Boyd header was brilliantly saved by Cerny. Then a curling effort from Jones went just wide. After the half hour, Boyd wasted another opportunity as he blasted over the bar following an excellent through ball from McKenzie. Sadly, a host of missed chances seemed to affect Killie as Thistle began to come into the match just before half time. A terrific volley from Lawless crashed off the bar and then a Keown header flew just past the post.
The second half was all about Thistle. Their midfield partnership of Erskine, Edwards and Osman totally out-muscled McKenzie, Longstaff and Dicker as they won every single 50-50 and drove at the Killie defence relentlessly. Chris Erskine (certificate 18) missed several good opportunities to put his side in front and a Barton drive smacked the inside of the post as Killie struggled to hold on.
Finally, after consistent Thistle pressure, Erskine smacked home a left foot drive after being allowed to turn in the box. Thankfully, the goal finally woke up the home side and they began to force the play in the last 15 minutes. Wilson had come on for Longstaff and suddenly there was a bit more steel about Killie’s midfield. Then Umerah replaced Jordan Jones to give Killie more muscle up front.
Another Scott Boyd header missed its target as Killie searched in vain for an equaliser. Then, an angel appeared in the distant horizon in the shape of Thomas Cerny. A low, twenty-yard drive by Sammon looked to be easy meet for the Thistle goalkeeper but the ball squirmed from his grip and trundled over the line.
There was still three minutes plus injury time left for Killie to find a winner and they almost got it at the death when Boyd bundled home only for Beaton to blow his whistle for a daft foul. It would have been an undeserved winner for Killie though as the Thistle players gave absolutely everything for their manager and dominated for large parts of the second half.
Alas, Killie undoubtedly have more skilful players but when the going gets tough too many of them disappear from the game. Best for Killie were Ajer and Scott Boyd. Best for Thistle was Erskine - he may not be the first profile you would hope to find on Match.com, but he can play football.
Lee McCulloch: “I thought in the first 40 minutes we were really good, we created chances and were the better team. In the second half up until 75 minutes, Partick were brilliant. We lost a terrible goal. I don’t know how Chris Erskine can take a touch in our box before putting it in the corner – that’s not good enough. I’m delighted with the character of the boys in terms of getting themselves back into the game. Partick probably feel like we were a bit lucky but with the amount of hard work we put in, I believe in this game you make your own luck. They will think it’s two points dropped but if you had offered me four points out of six before the Ross County game we would have taken that.”
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