By Blair McNally
Partick Thistle secured their first win of the season with a comfortable 2-0 display over Queen’s Park in League Cup action.
It was to be a feisty start to the match as Partick Thistle welcomed their Glasgow neighbours to Maryhill for their second match of the season following a seven-month lay-off.
Both teams set out strong from the traps, hungry to win challenges and make an instant impact, with Partick Thistle having the better chances early on. Returning star, Blair Spittal, would shine from the get-go after his returning debut goal against St Mirren on Wednesday night in the defeat to Premiership outfit St Mirren.
An early backpass would be gathered by the stretching Spiders keeper Wullie Muir, as the Jags new no. 6 would come close to getting a foot on the ball. Spittal would continue to set the pace as several searching crosses would come narrowly close to target man, Brian Graham.
Queen’s Park would also have their chances as Bob McHugh attempted an audacious overhead kick which sailed just wide of the right-hand post. Zak Rudden would counter a minute later, after cutting back from a driving run, only for his looping cross to be met by the hands of a comfortable Muir.
Things would calm down after this as it became a game of basketball for the rest of the half, with the ball also very seldom touching the ground. Thistle would end the half with several crosses cleared by a dominant Peter Grant and headed into the break clearly the more frustrated of the two.
The Jags would start the half just as they ended it, attacking the wings of Queen’s Park which was an evident weakness. McCall seemed to captialise on this, making a double substitution, with Ryan Williamson replacing Richard Foster and Joe Cardle coming on for a returning Rudden. This would prove pivotal as Cardle would eventually break the deadlock in the 65th minute after a bombardment of crosses were cleared by Queen’s defenders.
A James Penrice cross from the left-hand side found a free Cardle at the back post who proceeded to smash the ball into the top right corner of the Queen’s goal. Minutes later, Spiders defender Michael Doyle would find himself lucky to stay on the park, after tripping the Jags’ energetic goalscorer, despite being booked only two minutes earlier.
Thistle would continue to attack the wings, searching for a second, as numerous crosses were cleared, with Graham coming close to latching on to another loose ball.
In the 81st minute It would be Thistle’s man of the match who put the nail in the coffin for The Spiders as a second half resurgence was be completed. A near-identical ball, this time by Graham, found the feet of Cardle who would revert to cutting inside onto his left foot and finishing calmly past a hopeless Muir. An all-round comfortable display from the Jags, here are three things we learned.
Cardle could be vital
There was an evident change in urgency after half time, with Cardle producing a new lease of life into a frustrated Thistle side. He continued to run at the Spiders defence with pace and showed a strong sense of willingness to latch onto loose balls and create something from nothing.
Cardle could be particularly useful if McCall chooses to adopt the use of wingers, after his first half choice of a central diamond in the midfield didn’t work as hoped. The 33-year-old came away with a double and looked keen to add to his tally.
Wingers will be key
Thistle’s half time tactical switch-up proved pivotal in creating chances and ultimately a comfortable victory over Queen’s.
The introduction of wingers helped target man Graham by giving him options to give and receive the ball from after he was consistently left holding the ball up with nobody to feed off in the second half.
Room to improve
Despite a much-improved second half from Thistle, there is still room for improvement. Some slack passes, a lack of communication and poor decision making in stages made the game feel more like a friendly, as the Jags failed to be at their brightest hour consistently.
This bit of rust is no doubt something McCall will hope to shake off as the season carries on and Thistle aim to gain promotion back to Scotland’s second tier.