Partick Thistle 0 v 1 Ayr United
The Honest Men bounced back from last week’s defeat at Dingwall with a hard-fought victory at Firhill thanks to a second-half header from Michael Rose. Backed by a huge 955 travelling supporters, Ayr remained 4 points clear in second place and a single point behind leaders Ross County.
Manager McCall was disappointed that the game had been so close ‘I thought it was an even game, but we had a lot of chances’ he said ‘and it’s so unlike us not to score them. We had four or five decent chances and 3 really good claims for penalties, but we never get them’. He went on to praise his team’s attitude. ‘The players never stopped. We weren’t content with a draw. Every one of them was magic, they just gave everything.’ He also congratulated the club’s 955 travelling supporters who had created an atmosphere that made it feel like a ‘home game.’
Ayr started the game brightly and it was only 6 mins gone before the first moment of real controversy arrived. A wonderful reverse pass from McDaid sent Shankland into the box behind the Partick defence. As the striker made in on goal, Thistle defender Penrice blatantly chose to plant a two-handed shove in the back of the United striker sending him to the turf. Unbelievably referee Bobby Madden, well behind the play, and his assistant failed to spot anything amiss in what was the first of several contentious decisions by the official throughout the afternoon.
Moments later, Jamie Adams came close to putting Ayr ahead. A corner from the right was cleared from the box but Andy Murdoch header back in and Adams reacted first but failed, at full stretch, to make strong contact allowing Bell to save.
Moore was next to try his luck after pouncing on a mistake by Bannigan but his left-footed shot from just inside the box was easily collected by Bell. Ayr were causing Thistle numerous problems and there were only 10 mins on the clock.
Other than a couple of speculative shots from distance, the first real chance for the home side came on 26 mins when Quitongo met a cross from Elliot with a header that went wide of the post. Thistle were seeing plenty of the ball but were struggling cause any real danger for United backline.
Ayr found themselves unlucky not to be ahead as half-time approached when both Moore and Geggan failed to convert two good chances.
On 39 mins, a long freekick into the box by Murdoch was knocked down to Moore by Adams and the United man quickly controlled and switched to his left foot but his snap shot went narrowly wide of Bell’s left-hand post.
Geggan’s chance came 5 mins later. Thistle failed to clear a cross from the left and a Shankland shot was blocked and deflected into the path of Geggan who failed to keep the ball down and it flew over the bar.
It was almost a dream start for United in the second half. with the ball in the net after 48 mins, however, it was ruled offside. A stramash in the box saw Adams knock the ball over the line but referee Madden deemed the Ayr captain to be offside and the goal was disallowed.
With 54 mins gone, Thistle almost had the ball in the net at the other end with Quitongo drilling the ball across the front of goal from the right, but Spittal, with only Doohan to beat somehow construed to slip and miss from 6-yards.
After 20 minutes of midfield battles, on and off-field spats, substitutes, and fierce tackles, Ayr carved out their next chance clear chance. McDaid whipped in a free kick from the left and Moore’s delightful twisting headed flick was just inches wide of both the far post and the onrushing Shankland.
Moments later, a lapse in the Thistle defence saw Shankland with an effort on goal come rebounding off the bar and Moore’s follow-up header cleared off the line. The home side were living dangerously, and Ayr tails were up.
There was a sense that Ayr were close to a goal, and on 77 mins the Honest Men got just that. A Forrest corner from the right was powerfully headed off the bar by Rose dropping close to the line. Just to ensure that Referee Madden was in no doubt, Craig Moore then bundled the ball into the back of the net. Both players were eager to claim the goal, Moore later confirming that Madden had noted him as the scorer, but TV evidence showed that the ball had crossed the line on its rebound from Rose’s header. Goal Rose.
Thistle struggled to put Ayr under any real pressure in the final 10 minutes and Ayr’s professional game management saw them come away with the 3 points. United now welcome Alloa Athletic to Somerset Park on Tuesday evening in a match that could see them go top again.
Bell, Elliot, Keown, McGinty, Penrice, Spittal, Slater, Bannigan, Storey, Quitongo, Mbuyi-Mutombo. Subs Erskine, Storer, Melbourne, McCarthy, Sneddon, Coulibaly, Ntambwe.
Doohan, Smith, Geggan, Rose, Adams, Crawford, McDaid, Kerr, Murdoch, Moore, Shankland. Subs Hare-Reid, Harvie, Moffat, Forrest, McGuffie, Bell, Docherty.
Referee: Bobby Madden