Phil McGhee Fir Park
For the second consecutive game, a John Sutton goal was enough to give ‘Well a slender 1-0 win.
And while Sutton’s penalty after 14 minutes was all that separated the teams, Ian Baraclough would be delighted with his side’s commitment and determination which earned the new manager a dream start to his Fir Park career.
The ‘Well line-up had a more experienced look about with Stevie Hammell retrurning for his first start since October to add added proficiency to a solid looking defence, which held firm for a second consecutive clean sheet.
Simon Ramsden, free from suspension, came in to bring a much needed bite and drive from the middle of the park.
After some early defensive work dealing with acouple of corners from Stuart Brannigan, the Fir Parkers were gifted the lead in their first attack after 13 minutes.
A swift move ended with Josh Law playing in Lionel Ainsworth at the angle of the box. But as raced past Brannigan, the Thistle defender pulled him back to needlessly concede a penalty. John Sutton showed little sympathy for the visitors as he confidently sent the ‘keeper the wrong way for his third goal in three games.
The goal unnerved Thistle and for the reminader of the half ‘Well dominated the play.
Minutes after scoring Sutton might have made it two but after robbing Danny Seaborne at the edge of the box he steered his shot just beyond the post.
With the home side building in confidence, Henrik Ojamaa tried his luck with a low curling shot from the edge of the box which Paul Gallagher palmed away at full stretch.
For a spell Ainsworth’s blistering pace gave Brannigan a roasting, and a series of runs and inviting crosses from the winger found no takers in front of goal.
With the home side playing with a lot more freedom, Craig Reid ventured forward to fire a shot straight at Gallagher.
It took until injury time for Dan Twardzik to make his first save getting down at his left hand post to force Stephen O’Donnell’s snapshot behind.
Thistle started the second half in determined fashion and for long spells they put the ‘Well defence under some pressure. Despite have the majority of the possession, the Jags were largely restricted to long range efforts and 20 yard drives from former ‘Well pair Steven Lawless and Kallum Higginbotham sailed wide with little threat to Twardzik’s goal.
In an attempt to take some pressure off the defence, Lee Erwin replaced Sutton after 74 minutes. With Thistle still looking the more likely to score, Fraser Kerr then took over from Mark O’Brien in the heart of the home defence.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes the ‘Well players threw themselves into tackles around the box, none better than Keith Lasley who bravely blocked Kris Doolan twice in quick succession.
With six minutes remaining ‘Well should have killed off the game when Erwin, on a run from the halfway line, held off Conrad Balatoni, but with the goal in his sights the young striker pulled his shot wide of Gallagher’s right hand post.
And with the home side confidently playing out injury time, a burst upfield and left foot drive from Ojamaa brought a save from Gallagher as ‘Well closed the gap on Thistle to three points.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle #MFCvPTFC
93mins: Bannigan booked for chopping down Erwin. ‘Well free-kick on the edge of the box #MFCvPTFC
4 minutes added on.
88mins: Corner to Thistle…….defended resolutely again by ‘Well. #MFCvPTFC
87mins: Motherwell sub, Hammell is off for Ferguson #MFCvPTFC
86mins: Glorious chance for Erwin as he is sent through 1 on 1 but fires wide! #MFCvPTFC
82mins: Final Partick sub, Eccleston on for Fraser #MFCvPTFC
..McManus heads clear. Still 1-0 going into the final 10 mins… #MFCvPTFC
79mins: Free-kick for Thislte on the edge of the box. Good Area….
77mins: Second ‘Well sub, O’Brien off for Kerr #MFCvPTFC
74mins: Motherwell sub, Sutton off for Erwin #MFCvPTFC
73mins: Half chance for Thistle there as Lawless does well to control a ball that is fizzed into him at the front post. Twardzik gathers.
70mins: 20 minutes left and you get the feeling there is a goal left in this one…. #MFCvPTFC
67mins: Partick Thistle sub, Stevenson off for Doolan #MFCvPTFC
66mins: Great persistence from Ainsworth wins a corner but Thistle head clear and counter. #MFCvPTFC
61mins: Stevenson booked for dissent. Felt ha should have had a penalty but ref says no. #MFCvPTFC
57mins: Long range effort from Fraser drifts harmlessly wide. Thistle look dangerous now #MFCvPTFC
55mins: Partick on top in the opening 10 mins of the second half. ‘Well are pushed in deep #MFCvPTFC
52mins: Partick sub, Craigen off for Lawless #MFCvPTFC
51mins: Half chance there as Law reads a Sutton flick-on, however he is beaten to the ball by Balatoni who nods back to Gallagher #MFCvPTFC
We are back underway at Fir Park #MFCvPTFC
HT: Motherwell 1 – 0 Partick Thistle #MFCvPTFC
45mins: Great low save from Twardzik to deny O’Donnell at his near post! #MFCvPTFC
Thankfull he is back on his feet after treatment from the physio and the club doctor.#MFCvPTFC
37mins: It’s a Motherwell corner….O’Brien heads wide and goes down. with a head knock. #MFCvPTFC
35mins: Poor effort from Fraser, who has a shot from 25 yards but was always leaning back. Well over in the end #MFCvPTFC
25mins: Could have been 2! Lovely through ball by Reid to Ainsworth who cut it back to danger area. Balatoni gets across to cover #MFCvPTFC
25mins: Reid goes a little run forward and with no other options opts to shoot. Routine save for Gallagher though #MFCvPTFC
19mins: Good pressure from ‘Well! Ojamaa has a a snapshot on the edge of the box pushed away ‘Well by the diving Gallagher #MFCvPTFC
18mins: Inches past the post from Sutton! Ref says its a corner after his shot from 18 yards whistled just past. #MFCvPTFC
Sutton sends Gallagher the wrong way to make it 1-0 to The Steelmen #MFCvPTFC
13mins: Sutton steps up…GGGOOOAALLL!!
PENALTY! Ainsworth pulled down in the box!
11mins: Stevenson forces a second Partick corner. I’s a great delivey from Bannigan which is headed wide by Reid for another corner #MFCvPTFC
8mins: Both sides just trying to settle into the game. Neither ‘keeper troubled as yet #MFCvPTFC
2mins: Partick start on the attacking foot and win a corner….. headed just over by Seaborne at the front post! #MFCvPTFC
Lasley and Law get the game underway. COYW! #MFCvPTFC
Minute’s silence impeccably observed as always. #MFCvPTFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“It was hard-earned. It probably wasn’t pretty in the second half but I felt the first-half performance was very good. We created a lot of good chances, good movement, good use of the ball.
“The second half was probably the total opposite.
“Credit to the opposition, they came and had a go. We probably sat back, there was an anxiousness that we are trying to get out of the players. You are not there to protect a lead, go and replicate that first-half performance then you make it a lot easier for yourselves.
“We got a bit stretched and, when we did win it back, we didn’t use it so well.
“But you can’t fault the players’ endeavour and will to win, and willingness to throw themselves in front of the ball. I don’t think Dan has actually had to make too many saves.”
Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald:
“I thought our second-half performance merited at least a point. We were in the final third a lot and it is concerning that we are taking the wrong option too often.
“I have no complaint about Motherwell’s penalty as I thought it was a foul. We just weren’t sure if it was inside the box as the boys felt the first contact was outside.”