Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell claimed their first home win of the season thanks to John Sutton’s first goal since returning to Fir Park at the summer.
But after dominating the first sixty-five minutes and passing up a number of chances to finish off a plucky Thistle, ‘Well were left hanging on to their narrow lead as Alan Archibald’s men threw everything at the home goal in the closing stages.
Motherwell started with Henri Anier partnering John Sutton in attack and the pair gave Thistle defenders a torrid time. Given time to bond the build and movement of both will hopefully give defences some difficult afternoons this season.
As it was after an uneventful opening twenty minutes, the pair were involved in producing the only goal of the game.
Anier worked hard to keep possession on the left before feeding into Zaine Francis-Angol. His touch and turn set up Sutton who swept the ball low and hard into the net from eight yards.
Shortly after Stephen McManus had the chance to make it 2-0 from a Stevie Hammell’s free kick. But, unmarked, he headed the ball weakly into Scott Fox’s hands.
The ‘keeper then came to Partick’s rescue after 32 minutes. James McFadden’s cross was cleared only as far as Anier and his low volley was destined for the bottom right hand corner until Fox leapt to palm the ball away.
The Thistle defence looked a little ragged and another McFadden cross caused mayhem until Aaron Muirhead booted the ball away from inside the six yard box as his keeper dived to pounce on the loose ball.
With the Maryhill side holding our for the interval, Anier had another double attempt at goal his first blocked by Conrad Balatoni before slamming the rebound low but straight towards the keeper.
Motherwell continued to press for another goal from the start of the second half and produced a series of chances.
Sutton laid the ball off for Anier who pulled his shot wide from 20 yards before McFadden headed Simon Ramsden’s cross over the bar.
McFadden, looking much more like himself, then had two attempts on goal. A terrific volley from Sutton’s cross before a run and shot from 25 yards had the home crowd rising in anticipation of a goal.
Fox then kept his side in the game with another superb save after 66 minutes. Anier unselfishly played the ball in front of Keith Lasley and he really should have scored but from 10 yards he allowed the ‘keeper to block with an outstretched leg.
That gave Thistle hope for the final 20 minutes, especially when Anier was withdrawn and replaced by Fraser Kerr and Stuart Carswell was forced off with an ankle knock.
When Thistle brought on their third former ‘Well player, Ross Forbes, the home fans probably though that the script had been written for late equaliser. Forbes quickly got into the thick of the action and from his cut back, Stephen McManus blocked in the 6 yard box with Thistle screaming for a penalty.
Kallum Higginbotham also looked determined to impress and he had a couple of efforts blocked as the ‘Well defence stood firm.
In the end, the win was not as convincing as it perhaps should half been. It will give the players a much needed confidence boost as they await the arrival of Kilmarnock for the late kick off next Saturday.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle
90mins: Forbes booked for dissent. Took a sore one from McManus, who won the ball.
86mins: This is torture. Some unbelievable last ditch tackles from Hutchinson to deny what would have been certain goals.
82mins: Backs to the wall now for Motherwell. Thistle piling on the pressure!
80mins: Motherwell sub, Francis-Angol off for Vigurs.
78mins: Partick Thistle sub, Osbourne off for Forbes.
76mins: Good chance for O’Donnell. Drifted in at the back post and could only poke his effort well past from 12 yards.
75mins: Kerr booked for a late tackle on Muirhead,
73mins: Decent chance for Sutty there, Dropped to his feet from Hutchinson’s header across goal but couldn’t connect properly to test Fox
72mins: Motherwell sub, Kerr on for Anier.
67mins: Lawson find his way into the ref’s book. Cautioned.
67mins: What a chance for Lasley! Anier slipped him in but from 12 yards his shot is diverted wide by Fox’s boot.
65mins: Partick Thistle sub, Doolan off for Baird
63mins: Free-kick in a dangerous area to Thistle after Hutchinson brought down Lawless. Higginbotham fires into the wall.
61mins: Motherwell sub: Lawson replaces Carswell
60mins: Going to be a sub here…..Carswell went down clutching his ankle, Thistle play on for a few minutes much to ‘Well fans annoyance
57mins: Taylor-Sinclair flashes a great ball across the face of goal. McManus does well to swipe it clear!
55mins: McFadden skips past Higginbotham and tries his luck 20 yards out. Not far past!
52mins: McFadden hits one on the swivel 12 yards out. Flashes past the post!!
52mins: Partick Thistle sub, Higginbotham on for Fraser
50mins: First real test of Hollis this afternoon as Osbourne unleashes from 25 yards. Straight into his hands though.
49mins: Great leap in the box from McFadden to meet Ramsden’s cross. Just wide of the post.
48mins: Good headed knock-down by Sutton into the path of Anier, 22 yards out and on his left foot, he fails to hit the target.
46mins: Second half is underway. #COYW
HT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle
43mins: And now O’Donnell is booked for a foul on Anier.
42mins: McFadden booked for a foul on Taylor-Sinclair.
39mins: Eventually cleared by Muirhead but ‘well keep the pressure on, Anier testing Fox from 15 yards. Straight at him though.
38mins: Anier wins another corner as ‘Well seek to double their advantage….
33mins: Hutchinson and Ramsden inches away from connecting with the delivery!
33mins: Good spell of pressure. Anier can’t find the space for a shot so squares to McFadden. He wins a corner….
32mins: Great save by Fox to deny Anier there! The ball fell to the Estonian 15 yards out and his volley was well pushed away from goal.
28mins: Corner to Motherwell…… Set-piece hooked clear a then Thistle win a free-kick in their own half.
21mins: Hopefully that goal has sprung this match to life. McManus with a chance but his header is too far out to trouble Fox
20mins: GOOOAALLLLL!! 20 dull opening minutes then Sutton pops up to divert Francis-Angol’s cross home! 1-0
5mins: Early stages have been a solid midfield battle so far. Neither side on top yet.
1min: And we’re off! #coyw
Pre-Match: Out come the teams, Motherwell in the usual Claret and Amber, Thistle in dark grey and white.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I was delighted with the win, especially the first half as we stopped them playing. We knew a second goal would kill them off and their ‘keeper has had a couple of terrific saves.
“However when you don’t get a second the game is still there to be won and give credit to Thistle who made a right good go of it in the final 20 minutes.
“They put us under some pressure and gave us a few scares but overall, Lee Hollis has had very few saves to make and we could have finished it off, especially the chance that fell to Keith Lasley who should have scored from eight yards.
“But it was another clean sheet for us and the two wins from four so I’ve got to be pleased.”
Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald:
“It is not nice to taste defeat for the first time and it is a sore one to take but we didn’t turn up in the first half.
“Although we were better in the second, ‘Well had a game plan and pressed us in the first half.
“We played the game at our tempo in the second and attacked their goal and probably did enough for a point but we might have been picked off for a second.”