Robbo vows to hit back after Jags sucker punch
JOHN ROBERTSON today vowed that Partick Thistle will not give up their bid to catch leaders Dundee – despite their 2-0 defeat by the Taysiders at Firhill.
The Jags dominated the Dark Blues for a second time this season only to be undone by first-half profligacy and the heroics of former Celtic keeper Rab Douglas.
But, after slumping to their second 2-0 defeat by Jocky Scott’s side, Thistle now have an eight-point gap to bridge and a mountain to climb to reach the Irn-Bru First Division summit.
Yet a defiant Robbo says there were more than enough positives to take from a performance, in front of a crowd of almost 4,500 – the biggest league gathering under Ian McCall – in which all that was missing was the ability to stick the ball in the net.
A resolute Robbo said: “There is a long, long way to go and, in fact, more of the season to come than has gone.
“We still have to play Dundee twice and they will drop points against other teams in this league, as that is the nature of the First Division.
“Of course, we are disappointed to have lost to Dundee and especially after we dominated the first half and created two or three good chances to take the lead.
“ But we still believe that over the two games with Dundee we have played the better football but just not had the breaks. Over a season that usually evens itself out.
“So there is no panic at Thistle. We will get our heads down and make sure we come again. There is no way that we can’t put this one behind us and come back at Dundee more determined than ever.”
The worrying factor for Partick and the rest of the First Division is that Dundee are now five points clear at the top and have yet to really reflect the sum of their parts – at least in their league form to date.
How painful it was, though, for all at Firhill to witness the quality of former favourite Gary Harkins carve up the Jags with his exquisite skills. WHETHER it was a sumptuous nutmeg or twinkling footwork that at times made the Firhill defence look like they were playing in slow motion, it was Harkins who was ultimately the architect of Thistle’s painful demise.
The other big factor in the two meetings between the sides this term has been that when Dundee get their chances they take them. Over the two fixtures, Thistle have created nine decent goalscoring chances – and none have been taken.
That is why Dundee are top and Partick are eight points adrift, and it is a failing that has afflicted Thistle regularly elsewhere despite their superiority in other aspects of play.
Partick soon grasped control of this encounter and, with seven minutes gone, almost cashed in on a poor clearance from Douglas.
Marc Corcoran intercepted and found Stevie Lovell 16 yards out , but his diagonal strike slid two yards wide when the former Aberdeen striker had at least to hit the target – and how Thistle were to rue this miss.
Moments later Douglas produced a superb one-handed stop to deny Simon Donnelly. The former Hoops star soon followed that up with the save of the game when he brilliantly tipped round a searing 20-yard Corcoran drive.
But home fires were doused with two minutes of the first half remaining. Harkins’ deep corner was not cleared and Colin McMenamin’s back-post volley was superbly cleared off the line by Ian Maxwell, only for the striker to slot home the rebound.
Harkins, now in full flow, was only denied shortly after by a brilliant Jonny Tuffey parry, but the former Jag was not to be shut out and he smashed home a dipping half - volley after an Eddie Malone corner was not repelled decisively.
And, in an ominous warning to the rest of the division, Dens boss Scott said he may make more signings.
He said: “I hope there is money to strengthen in January, but this was a fantastic result and an excellent performance.”