Partick 1-1 DunfermlineAuthor: Alistair Campbell Date: Sunday, 16th Dec 2007
A late Liam Buchanan strike denied Pars victory at Firhill in a game they should have won, but could easily have lost.
Stephen Glass missed a second half penalty that should have doubled the lead given by Mark Burchill’s opportunistic strike on the hour mark, but Jim McIntyre’s men were only still in the game due to a string of fine saves from on-loan keeper Paul Gallacher.
Dunfermline showed 2 changes from the side held to a 1-1 draw at East End by Clyde for this SFL First Division tie. Calum Woods failed to recover from injury and Scott Morrison dropped to the bench as there were welcome returns for Michael McGlinchey, and, making his first appearance in three months, local lad Kevin Harper in an unaccustomed right back slot.
Defending the North Stand in front of 200 or so intrepid away supporters, the Pars started with their normal 4-4-2 formation with Gallacher between the sticks, Harper and Murphy bracketing centre backs Wilson and Thomson; a centre midfield pairing of Glass and Simmons flanked by Stevie Crawford on the left and Celtic starlet McGlinchey on the right, with Hamilton and Burchill up front.
The bench boasted McManus, Williamson, Scott Morrison and Nicky Phinn, as well as sub keeper Murdoch - no place for McIntyre, and no place for Harris (or indeed any centre-back - a decision that arguably proved costly).
There was an early reminder of last week’s pass back debacle when Nipper Thomson elected to put the ball into touch in the 3rd minute rather than roll back to the keeper and thereafter conceded an early corner, which was defended with 9 men. The pitch may have caused concerns pre-match but seemed in reasonable nick, with only the strange greened-out markings evidence of previous egg-chasing activities.
As expected, it was the 3rd placed side that started better against a defence that betrayed some uncertainty, and Thistle nearly took the lead in the 17th minute when a deflection off Dinger’s outstretched leg looped over Gallacher but landed on top of the net as the away end held its breath.
The resultant corner wasn’t cleared properly, and Mark Roberts skinned Crawford on the Thistle right, sent in a cross and only a brilliant point-blank save from the on-loan Norwich stopper prevented McKinlay’s header from breaking the deadlock.
The Pars were relying on a combination of route one balls to Hamilton, or long balls into the channels seeking to use Burchill’s pace. Neither tactic was proving particularly efficacious and it took the Pars until the 22nd minute for their first shot - a hurried sclaff from Crawford, although to be fair, options were limited as Hamilton was temporarily in the dressing room getting his head stitched after a previous clash of heads.
The Jags continued to look the likelier side, Roberts hooking a shot narrowly past the post in the 24th minute before Gallacher again came to the Pars’ rescue just before half an hour, beating away a shot as Chaplain waltzed past some Keystone cops defending.
The Pars started to edge back into the game as the Maryhill faithful sounded their impatience, and finished the half strongly, with McGlinchey coming more into the game and Harper finding licence to overlap on the right.
Both side made tactical changes at the break - McManus was tasked with using his more direct style on the right side of midfield with McGlinchey switching flanks to replace the off-form Crawford on the left. McStay replaced Storey for Partick.
A handball after 20 seconds gave Thistle the opportunity to test the Pars nerves but the free-kick was taken too quickly and wasted. However, Partick started the better and Glass had to take a yellow when he stopped a driving run illegally.
Partick should have taken the lead after 53 minutes when Chaplain again made a right Charlie of the Pars defence; having held off Wilson (who kept his feet for once) and rounded Gallacher he was passing the ball into the unguarded net when Nipper got back to clear off the line, bagatelling the ball of Dinger for a corner. This time it was Gallacher to the rescue as he smothered a close range Thistle shot at the second attempt.
Gallacher was again called into action making a flying save at his near post before the Pars took the lead in the 60th minutes. McGlinchey found space on the left before feeding Hamilton in the area - Hammy did well with his back to goal, and held the ball up for the onrushing Glass who cracked in a shot which was parried by keeper Tuffey, but only as far as BURCHILL who larruped it first time into the net to his obvious delight. 0-1 Pars.
You could almost see the weight lifting from the Pars shoulders and they should have made it 2 after 69 minutes. Hamilton in the centre circle fed McManus on the right who drove forward before shooting from the edge of the box - the keeper spilled the ball and it seemed that Burchill would net when he tumbled under pressure.
Referee McCurry pointed to the spot, but kept his cards in his pocket. Stephen Glass had had a record 3 out of 3 successful spot conversions, but missed the opportunity as the keeper moved early, putting a tame effort past the left hand post.
Shortly after, there was another tactical change for the Pars, with Burchill being replaced by Williamson, who took McManus’ place on the right as Tam went up front. Meanwhile former Par Simon Donnelly came on for Chaplain.
No sooner was the Pars youngster on the pitch when he was out-jumped for the ball and as Wilson missed his tackle Simmons took another yellow for the team as he hauled the Thistle midfielder down from behind.