Premier Sports Cup – Group B, Partick Thistle v Fraserburgh, Tuesday 19th July 2022
Partick Thistle moved into pole position at the top of Group B after running out convincing 2-0 winners over Highland League champions Fraserburgh in the Premier Sports Cup. Bryan Hay’s own goal and Brian Graham’s driven effort in the late evening sunshine at Firhill ensured the Jags leapfrogged Kilmarnock in the table ahead of the final round of fixtures this weekend.
Thistle were eyeing eight points from a possible nine as they looked to build on their impressive start to the campaign, while Fraserburgh arrived in Glasgow’s West End without a win from their previous three group games. In the first ever meeting between the clubs, the Broch gave a good account of themselves but struggled to pose much of an attacking threat against their Championship opponents.
The visitors started brightly with Lewis Duncan finding space on the left-hand side and the former Aberdeen youth picked out Aidan Combe unmarked in the box but his tame effort was deflected into the hands of Jamie Sneddon. Moments later, at the opposite end, Cammy Smith forced Joe Barbour into an acrobatic save with a strike from 20 yards. Following a lively start to the contest, the home side began to assert their dominance with Kyle Turner curling an effort from the edge of the box narrowly wide of the target. Fraserburgh began to drop deeper into their own half and they fell behind on 32 minutes when Jack McMillan’s low cross from the right was turned into his own net by centre-back Bryan Hay.
The North-East outfit continued to soak up plenty of pressure but they almost found themselves on level terms five minutes before the interval. Kieran Simpson’s well-weighted delivery was met by Combe in the penalty area but the winger was unable to prevent his header from sailing over the crossbar. Before the half drew to a close, Thistle should’ve doubled their lead. Brian Graham evaded the offside trap to slip in Cole McKinnon but the Rangers loanee saw his shot blocked by Barbour, who was quick off his line. Smith them found himself clean through on goal, but Barbour came to Fraserburgh’s rescue once more, producing a crucial fingertip save to keep the score at 1-0.
Half Time: Partick Thistle 1 Fraserburgh 0
The home side continued to press for a second and Turner went close with a rising drive on 54minutes. It took Thistle until just after the hour mark to put the game to bed. Kevin Holt’s cross from the left reached Graham inside the six-yard box and the veteran striker took a neat touch before rifling the ball low past the helpless Barbour.
Barbour’s heroics between the sticks continued as the match wore on, denying substitute Tony Weston from close range after latching onto Aidan Fitzpatrick’s defence-splitting pass. Fraserburgh found it difficult to keep possession on several occasions, and up front talisman Scott Barbour was unable to carve out a clear sight at goal. However, they acquitted themselves well against a side that will be gunning for promotion to the top-flight of Scottish football this season.
Full Time: Partick Thistle 2 Fraserburgh 0
Partick Thistle: Jamie Sneddon, Jack McMillan, Harry Milne, Kevin Holt, Kyle Turner (James Lyon 75), Brian Graham (Aidan Fitzpatrick 63), Steven Lawless (Anton Dowds 63), Cameron Smith (Anthony Weston 63), Cole McKinnon, Aaron Muirhead (Olatunji Akinola 46), Ross Docherty.
Sub not used: David Mitchell, Darren Brownlie, Stuart Bannigan, Ben Stanway.
Goalscorers: Brian Hay (OG, 32), Brian Graham (61).
Fraserburgh: Joe Barbour, Ross Aitken, William West (Connor Grant 80), Bryan Hay, Kieran Simpson, Paul Young, Logan Watt (Jordan Guild 70), Lewis Duncan (Scott Barbour 50), Aidan Combe, Ryan Sargent (Ethan Sutherland 80), Sean Butcher (Jamie Maclellan 70).
Sub not used: Edward Flinn.
Match Officials – Referee: Scott Lambie, Assistant Referees: Craig Macrae & Scott McGregor.
Despite finishing bottom of the group, Fraserburgh assistant manager James Duthie felt it has been a worthwhile experience for the players as they turn their focus on to their Highland League title defence, which begins on Saturday. “It was really tough up against a really good side. It’s a long journey on a Tuesday night, it was a hot night, we didn’t have the ball much and we were maybe five players short with injuries, but in terms of effort I couldn’t fault them. They ran a lot, they hassled a lot and kept a decent enough shape. It’s been a good experience playing in this cup and we’ll take a lot from it in terms of what we need to do to get better. I’d much rather be tested in these games than play meaningless friendlies and it’s been a brilliant learning experience.”
Manager Ian McCall felt his side should’ve been more clinical given the number of chances passed up and their territorial superiority against a side four tiers below them. “We should’ve scored more goals. I felt we were too open at times but we had two or three really good chances in the first-half and in the second half we had three or four. I was a bit gutted one or two of the new boys didn’t get their first goals for the club but credit to Fraserburgh, they dug in and kept their shape really well.”