Canal Plus One Point…
Having parked near Firhill I went into to town for lunch and on my return discovered that you can walk to the ground along the Forth and Clyde canal. I recommend it as a route for those on foot.
The Rovers rang the changes after Tuesday’s defeat – Williamson, McBride, Clarke and Graham all coming Jamie Walker, Stewart, Baird and Casalinuovo dropping to the bench. Again the Rovers were without the influential Davidson. The conditions were good for football and the sun was out – for whatever reason Partick decided to use a sprinkler to soak the pitch just before kickoff. This caught out Dave McGurn for a moment as he headed back to the dressing room and he got a quick pregame shower!
The water didn’t help the ball zip across the turf early on as it spent the first few minutes in the air. Erskine had an effort more akin to ground mates the Glasgow Warriors in the second minute. Cairney then had a wayward effort as it became clear the Rovers were trying to be direct and get Clarke and Graham the ball early. Big Brian brought down the first ball forward well but Partick mopped up. Iain Williamson put in a good shift and he was fed by Murray after slack home passing and then a cross was flicked on – Jock McStayesque – but it flashed across goal and past. Graham and Williamson tried again at the byline but Brian’s effort will be one he’d rather forget. McBride then had a go his long range free kick dipped but not enough to hit the target.
However Partick were on top winning a couple of corners followed by another when the Rovers tried to be too clever playing out of defence. Partick then had an effort aimed at the canal basin beyond the flats behind the goal. The best Raith passing move of the half ended with Walker heading Dyers cross wide. Moments later in the 27th minute Partick saw a Rovers clearance hit a Jag in the area and spun back into the six yard box where there was a stramash and the ball was eventually hacked away. The home side ended the half well and had been getting an extra man over on the Rovers left where McBride and Dyer were having to stand off as they were outnumbered. The Jags failed to capitalise on a couple of free kicks and saw a dangerous header go wide.
The home side withdrew Doolan at the half he’d had an early knock. McGuigan hit the side netting in the 47th minute as the home side upped the pace. Erskine shot over then slack defensive play saw McGuigan find McGurn alert diving to take his effort. Pat Clarke ran from the centre circle but his run was halted at the edge of the box. Clarke and McBride were replaced by Baird and Jamie Walker. Baird almost played the overlapping Thomson in in the home box with his first involvement. Partick were in the ascendancy and looking for a breakthrough. Welsh and Erskine had efforts then from the home sides 9thcorner they broke the deadlock.
The corner swung in and Welsh was able to bullet it home first time from 6 yards. 1:0 after 64 minutes. The Jags tried to extend their lead and pushed on as the Rovers tried to stem the tide. McGuigan almost capitalised again on the Rovers rushing possession.
There was not much to cheer the Raith fans as they saw Graham flick on a free kick but Fox in the home goal claimed the ball before Baird could pounce. After another foray into the home box a long ball to went to Graham just in front of the Raith support. Brian’s first touch was sublime and took him away from his marker, moving into the box he dinked the ball into the centre over the outrushing Fox. Paton in the centre tried to head over and succeeded only in putting the ball into the empty net. There had been little sign of a Rovers goal coming and it probably wasn’t deserved at that point but it came from a truly brilliant touch from Brian Graham and bad luck for Paton.
The Rovers were lifted by the goal and Graham headed over an Ellis knock back. The Jags however pushed for a winner and Jamie Walker was brought on. Baird did well running from the half way line winning only the Rovers third corner. The ball was cleared to Stewart who played it back in and Murray rose at the back post heading in across goal. But the near linesman’s flag was up, I was not alone in thinking he got it wrong but views were mixed. It’s the fourth goal the Rovers have had ruled out in their last three away games.
As time ticked down Elliot shouldered an effort wide then in the last attack the Rovers support were again off their seat. A ball into the box fell to Baird who’s volley flashed past Fox and thudded back off the post. Brian Graham was first onto it and missed the target but the flag was up again.
The Rovers were second best for the vast majority of the game but came away with a point. There were two other issues of note, firstly the barring of the large flag being laid out behind the goal was disappointing. Secondly Alan Archibald was making his 398th appearance for Thistle and is on track to hit 400 this season.
The Rovers should be buoyed by today’s result if not the performance. Next week the Rovers travel to the other end of the Forth and Clyde canal playing the Bairns. Picking up more away points in Falkirk will be wheely useful!
Partick: Fox, O’Donnell, Archibald, Bannigan, Paton, Balatoni, Cairney, Welsh, McGuigan, Erskine, Doolan (Elliot 46).
Subs Not Used: Scully, McAleer, Kinniburgh, Griffin.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Dyer, Ellis, Hill, Murray, Williamson (Stewart 77), Allan Walker, Graham, Clarke (Jamie Walker 57), McBride (Baird 57).
Subs Not Used: Laidlaw, Casalinuovo.
Report John Mainland, Pictures Eddie Doig
Updates by Niall Russell and Chris Hynd
Photos copyright Eddie Doig
Interviews by David Hancock
Video highlights of the match are available here.