Partick Thistle 4 Queen’s Park 0 - Jags blow Championship title race wide open with crushing win over toiling leaders
The Firhill men leapfrogged Ayr United into third spot in the table and moved within three points of the pace-setting Spiders.
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Partick Thistle blew the Scottish Championship title race wide open as they swept aside toiling leaders Queen’s Park 4-0 in the first Glasgow derby of the weekend at Firhill on Friday night.
The Jags moved above third-placed Ayr United in the table and within three points off top spot after a Kevin Holt brace and further goals from Kyle Turner and substitute Danny Mullen sealed a comprehensive win and gave their revived promotion hopes a significant boost.
It was a third successive league defeat for the faltering Spiders who rarely looked like staging a comeback and are in real danger of surrendering their place at the summit with four games remaining.
Jags boss, Kris Doolan, who has lost just once in nine outings since his appointment as manager, reckons his side now have all the momentum heading into the business end of the season.
He admitted: “It was a real statement of what we are capable of. We scored five goals last week against Cove, four tonight and a couple of clean sheets there too. I am proud of the players because it is not easy to deal with pressure.
“Their whole mindset is that the title race is not over. I was lucky enough to play in a team here who made the top-six in the Premier League so I know what this club is capable of. You see them at the end and they are still throwing themselves at things. Their attitude is first-class.
“Second-half we knew we were going to go after them and it worked perfectly but it is down to the players sticking to the plan and doing the work on the pitch. I have won the championship here and I know the pressure. We have tried to give everyone as much confidence as we can and as much information and analysis as we can.
“There has been a real team effort. Everybody is looking for momentum and we’ve got it. We have already got massive amounts of it and it can take you a long way. That belief is 100% in that dressing room. They believe in one another and that is the key.”
Queen’s Park had long seemed certain to finish above Thistle in the table after winning all three previous meeting earlier in the campaign for the first time since 1935 but they struggled to pose much of an attacking threat in front of the BBC Scotland’s cameras.
The hosts shaded what was a largely forgettable opening 45 minutes, with Stevie Lawless looping a cross into the box for the unmarked Scott Tiffoney but the winger’s effort flew wide of the post after 38 minutes.
Visiting defender Marcel Oakley then made a crucial late block to deny Tiffoney from breaking the deadlock moments after the restart before Thistle carved open the Spiders defence just a few minutes later to open the scoring.
Brian Graham played a neat cushioned pass in behind a hesitant Queen’s backline for Tiffoney to latch onto. He then proceeded to cut the back back across the six-yard box for the on-rushing Kevin Holt who calmly rifled the ball past keeper Callum Ferrie into the net at the back-post.
The visitors offside appeals were waved away by referee Willie Collum and television replays suggested that Oakley had played Tiffoney on. Thistle were playing some eye-catching football and Tiffoney was proving a constant menace for the Spiders to contend with.
Ferrie kept his side in the game with an important save to deny Kyle Turner when he tipped the midfielder’s shot over the crossbar but Partick swiftly doubled their advantage following another well-worked move.
Lawless exchanged a clever one-two with Graham before the striker expertly lifted the ball over to Jack McMillan. The full-back opted against pulling the trigger and instead squared it to Turner who forced the ball into the net under pressure from two defenders.
Substitute Danny Mullen then added a killer third goal with just four minutes remaining when he unleashed a powerful first-time drive on the turn beyond the outstretched Ferrie and there was still time for Holt to bundle home his second and Thistle’s fourth to really rub salt into the wounds of Queen’s Park.
Delfated Spiders boss Owen Coyle is concerned their title charge is beginning to run out of steam and has called on his players to “stand up and be counted”.
He said: “Given what we have done to get to where we are there is no doubt it is difficult to take. You can go a goal behind in any game but I am annoyed at the manner of the reaction to it. Our reaction wasn’t good enough and the goals got progressively worse from a defensive point of view, without taking anything away from Thistle.
“It was nowhere near good enough. We allowed Thistle to get their tails up. You have to do the basics right and we didn’t. For us, we haven’t been at the heights but what I saw in the second-half just is not good enough.
“We’re hurting tonight. There was one or two who never got on and if I were them I would be banging my door down demanding to know why when you look at that. It is a range of emotions. You cannot offer that up in the second-half and think you are going to win games. We need to stand up and be counted and show a bit of steel now.”
Partick Thistle (4-2-3-1): Mitchell, McMillan, Holt, Brownlie, Turner (Smith; 84), Tiffoney (Fitzpatrick; 80), Bannigan, Graham (Mullen; 74), Lawless, Muirhead, Docherty
Unused: Sneddon (GK), Dowds, McKinnon, Owens, Lyon, Stevenson
Queen’s Park (4-2-3-1): Ferrie, Oakley, Robson, Kilday, Thomson, Thomas, Savoury (Henderson; 59), Healy (McPake; 59), Shields (Williamson; 84), Boateng (Davidson; 63), Eze
Unused: Heraghty (GK), Longridge, Bruce, Bannon, Jarrett
Referee: Willie Collum
Attendance: 3,783 (361 away)
GlasgowWorld Man of the Match: Kyle Turner (Partick Thistle)