Partick Thistle 1 Arbroath 0 - Aidan Fitzpatrick heads home late winner as Jags advance to Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals

Partick Thistle's Aidan Fitzpatrick and Raith Rovers' Aidan Connolly in action during their teams' Scottish Championship at Firhill in Glasgow on Saturday (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)Partick Thistle's Aidan Fitzpatrick and Raith Rovers' Aidan Connolly in action during their teams' Scottish Championship at Firhill in Glasgow on Saturday (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)
Partick Thistle's Aidan Fitzpatrick and Raith Rovers' Aidan Connolly in action during their teams' Scottish Championship at Firhill in Glasgow on Saturday (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group) | SNS Group
The former Norwich City youngster stepped off the subs bench to glance a header beyond Derek Gaston in the closing stages.

Partick Thistle booked their place in the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals after eventually overcoming a stubborn Arbroath side at Firhill.

The Jags dominated proceedings against the part-timers in a battle of the two Championship sides and with both teams set to clash again on league duty at the weekend, the opposing dugouts knew landing a psychological blow would prove crucial.

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It took the home side until the 81st minute to break down a resolute Red Lichties backline, with substitute Aidan Fitzpatrick’s late intervention drawing a sigh of relief from the home crowd.

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Ian McCall felt his side were deserving of their place in the last eight of the competition and admitted patience was key to their success.

He said: “I was delighted with how we played. We never got frustrated and kept playing our football against very dangerous opponents.

“I know they haven’t started their league season that well but I fully expect them to improve.

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“We had a lot of decent chances, got into some good goal scoring positions and missed some sitters but credit to Arbroath – they put their bodies on the line and their ‘keeper made some great saves.

“Ironically, David Mitchell also made a great save right at the end to prevent extra time but that’s football.

“I was delighted when our goal finally came. Ultimately, it’s a cup tie and you just want to go through. If Arbroath had dominated us and we’d still won 1-0 I’d be just as delighted as I am now.

“We could have won by more but you must respect your opponents, who gave everything for their manager. It’s a great result for us and we could have been more comfortable but it’s all about getting through.”

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The home side were almost gifted the opening goal after just seven minutes when Keaghan Jacobs miscued a backpass, allowing the alert Ross Docherty to intercept.

The Jags skipper was forced out wide by visiting keeper Derek Gaston and couldn’t pick out the lurking Anton Dowds who would’ve been left with a tap-in from close range.

Arbroath, without a league win in five attempts so far this season, continued to weather the early Thistle storm, with the Gayfield outfit pinned back inside their own half for the majority of the opening 45 minutes.

Docherty had a 15th minute volley well blocked by Jason Thomson before Anton Dowds lifted the ball over from close range on the stretch after Jack McMillan had drilled an effort goalwards.

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Scott Tiffoney was next to threaten after 37 minutes when he combined well with Kyle Turner on the right-hand side of the box before seeing his low drive comfortably saved by Gaston.

Gaston was called into action again minutes later when Dowds chested the ball down under pressure before catching a shot on the volley from inside the penalty area, which forced the veteran stopper into a brilliant reflex save.

Rangers have been bolstered by the addition of Arbroath’s No.1 goalkeeper to their academy coaching team. Derek Gaston has been a key player in the Smokies’ Championship title push. He will combine his part-time playing career with his role as academy goalkeeping coach. He said: “My job is to develop them into the best they can be and aim for the very top.” (Scottish Sun)Rangers have been bolstered by the addition of Arbroath’s No.1 goalkeeper to their academy coaching team. Derek Gaston has been a key player in the Smokies’ Championship title push. He will combine his part-time playing career with his role as academy goalkeeping coach. He said: “My job is to develop them into the best they can be and aim for the very top.” (Scottish Sun)
Rangers have been bolstered by the addition of Arbroath’s No.1 goalkeeper to their academy coaching team. Derek Gaston has been a key player in the Smokies’ Championship title push. He will combine his part-time playing career with his role as academy goalkeeping coach. He said: “My job is to develop them into the best they can be and aim for the very top.” (Scottish Sun)

The Jags were firmly in the ascendency but with each passing minute in the second half, a sense of frustration could be felt among the home support as their side tried desperately to forge a way past Gaston.

Ian McCall turned to his bench in search of a much-needed spark, introducing talisman Brian Graham and Aidan Fitzpatrick with 20 minutes remaining.

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Thistle continued to probe but they found a resolute Gaston in inspired form. The Red Lichties keeper expertly tipped Dowds’ powerful strike from inside the area behind after Docherty has robbed the visitors of possession on the halfway line.

Graham then headed over on the stretch after connecting with Turner’s deep cross from the right before the breakthrough arrived with nine minutes left to play.

Steven Lawless’ pinpoint delivery from the right was met by the head of substitute Fitzpatrick who cushioned a header over Gaston in the back of the net.

The wide man bagged 11 times in 38 games for Livingston this season but has opted for pastures new.The wide man bagged 11 times in 38 games for Livingston this season but has opted for pastures new.
The wide man bagged 11 times in 38 games for Livingston this season but has opted for pastures new. | 2018 Getty Images

The visitors had failed to pose an attacking threat until the 85th minute when David Mitchell pushed a shot onto the post before ex-Celtic and Hibs midfielder Scott Allan saw his rebound cleared off the line by Harry Milne.

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However, the hosts fully merited their victory and now advance to this evening’s draw as they look to close in on a first trip to the national stadium since 2002.

Arbroath boss Dick Campbell had no complaints about the end result, insisting his threadbare squad deserved credit for the way they frustrated Thistle.

He said: “We had five or six good players out tonight and we didn’t create anything of real note until the last few minutes.

“I thought from defence to midfield we did really well and were quite resilient but it was a bad goal to lose.

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“Partick Thistle are on a bit of a high right now and they deservedly go through. When you play cup ties it is all about seeing your name in the hat for the next round and I thought Partick were worthy winners.”

Partick Thistle: Mitchell, McMillan (Graham; 70), Milne, Holt, Turner, Tiffoney (Fitzpatrick; 70), Bannigan (McKinnon; 53), Dowds (Mullen; 75), Lawless, Muirhead, Docherty

Unused: Sneddon (GK), Brownlie, Smith, Weston, Akinola

Arbroath: Gaston, Thomson (Craigen; 52), Little, McKenna, Hilson (Shanks; 83), Jacobs, Linn (Corfe; 60), Stewart, Hancock, Allan, Fosu (Paterson; 83)

Unused: Gill (GK)

Referee: John Beaton

Attendance: 1,960 (108 away)

GlasgowWorld Man of the Match: Derek Gaston (Arbroath)

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