Partick Thistle 4 Scotland 0

A tough test for Scottish Schools in their opening preparation game of 2024 with a defeat by a really good Partick Thistle side last night at Petershill.

After a stop-start beginning to the preparation programme caused by inclement weather last weekend, players and coaches alike were delighted to finally take the field in a match situation.

The brisk evening at Petershill Park was matched by Scotland’s opening. Jamie Low charged down the left flank and saw his cross blocked, earning Scotland a corner with barely 30 seconds on the clock.

The first 20 minutes of play were dominated by Scotland, who forced 5 corners and created a couple of opportunities: Allan burst into the box, performed a neat turn away from his attendant defender but his shot flashed across the face of goal.

Following this chance McDonald tried to go one better. Excellent combination play on the right between Nixon and Graham crafted the chance. The shot was on target but superbly blocked by the Partick Thistle defence.

Partick Thistle scored against the run of play in 24 minutes, their centre forward knocking the ball home from close range after a good cut-back from the right before they doubled their advantage with a superb curling free-kick in the 36th minute.

Although the jags were growing into the game, this two goal advantage was harsh on the SSFA side: McKay was unfortunate on two occasions either side of the second goal – Allan almost succeeded in threading a ball to him in the box but it was well marshalled by the defence and he was then thwarted when attempting to lob the onrushing Partick goalie. The ball cannoned to safety after striking the goalie’s head.

HALF TIME: SSFA 0, PARTICK THISTLE 2.

As is the norm for a preparation match, the Scotland coaches rang the changes at half-time. Again the first 15 minutes of the half saw Scotland in the ascendency. Unfortunately, again some fine play was not rewarded by goals.

Partick Thistle’s replacement keeper proved as obdurate a barrier as the original number 1, first thwarting Allan in the area after the forward had been picked out by Low, then acrobatically tipping over Falconer’s 25 yard attempt.

Allan tried his luck again with an effort from outside the area which flashed past the upright before Thistle netted a third – their central midfield player seizing upon a clearance to drift a measured effort into the top corner of the Scotland net with an hour in the clock.

It felt as if nothing would fall for Scotland on a frustrating evening. Lots of fine play was left unrewarded. Emblematic if this was an attack just two minutes after the third Thistle goal. A deep cross from Nixon was knocked back across goal by Rowe and Allan’s goal bound header was scrambled clear by two defenders on the Partick goal-line.

Scotland kept probing but couldn’t find a finishing touch in the area, perhaps typified when Cooper found Rowe in the area and his effort was deflected into the side netting near the end.

Partick Thistle rounded off the scoring from the spot after an award for handball in the 83rd minute. Over all a 4-0 defeat sounds like a hammering. Those present would certainly agree that the match was much closer than this: hopefully Scotland can begin to score the goals their possession and fine play deserved this evening.

FULL TIME: SCOTLAND 0, PARTICK THISTLE 4.

Scotland line-up: Harkin (Prunty 45’) Nixon, Stewart (Bowie 30’), Doyle, Low, Burke (Gilfeather 45’) Gibson (Falconer 45’), McDowall (Cooper 45’), Allan, Graham, McKay (Rowe 45’)

Starting Elevens

Scotland's starting eleven
Partick Thistle starting eleven