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<-Page <-Team Sat 10 Apr 2004 Partick Thistle 1 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Gary Sutherland auth-> Alan Freeland
Hartley Paul [A Thomson 49]
6 of 010 ----- L SPL A

Thomson helps Jags to turn the tables


Thomson 49


PARTICK Thistle may be heading for the first division and Hearts destined for Europe next season but yesterday there was an unexpected but thrilling role reversal as the Premierleague’s bottom side usurped the third best team in the country giving Hearts their first defeat in 11 games and Thistle their first league victory in two months.

Thistle striker Andy Thomson scored the only goal of the game shortly after the break to land the Firhill club a deserved win and Hearts’ miserable afternoon was completed when Paul Hartley was dismissed with two minutes of normal time left.

A revolutionary disciplinary system has been invoked at Firhill with the footballers forced to pay for their misdemeanours with packets of biscuits but for this they will get a warming win bonus in their next pay packets, and perhaps even a tasty slice of celebratory cake last night.

Despite Gerry Britton scoring his second-ever Partick Thistle hat-trick in an under-21 match against Dundee midweek (his first one was back in 1993 in a pre-season friendly against Ballycare Comrades if you’re interested) the Firhill co-manager failed to make the starting line-up. A fit again James Grady, Thistle’s leading goalscorer and chief agitator was restored to the frontline as partner for Thomson.

The Partick co-manager agreed it was good to have Grady back saying that it means the team "don’t have to have that big clown Britton up front." Nevertheless, Britton did introduce himself as an injury-time substitute as Thistle held on for the points. As easy a win bonus as you could get? "That’s the good thing about being a manager. You can put yourself on," explained Britton, "but I was just wasting time."

Thistle were thumped 4-1 at Firhill back in October by Hearts but this wasn’t a waste of time for the hosts though the first chance (one of their few) fell to the visitors when Robbie Neilson lashed an angled drive at Jamie Langfield which the goalkeeper did well to block with his legs.

At the other end Thomson had a good heading opportunity with Craig Gordon off his line but the ball drifted wide of the left-hand post. Derek Fleming was next to pose some questions of the Hearts defence with a high centre but it was just too high for Grady ghosting in at the far post. The striker lifted a leg but couldn’t direct goalwards.

With Hearts struggling to make much of an impact, Craig Levein shifted Kevin McKenna forward and the rearguard reverted from a four to a three. Alan Maybury had a fine opening shortly before the interval when Neilson again pumped in a threatening cross but Maybury’s cushioned volley was not accomplished enough and flashed over the bar.

There was a flurry of activity after the break with Jamie Mitchell and Hartley both cautioned for simulated falls in the opposing penalty boxes and the yellow card for Hartley would prove costly. Afterwards Levein voiced his displeasure by suggesting that referee Alan Freeland had "decided to even it up," when Levein maintained that both he and Hartley remained convinced there had been grounds for the penalty kick.

Just before the Hartley incident Thistle had gone ahead with the route one approach.

Langfield launched a kick deep into Hearts territory and as Grady and Pressley went for it in a Little & Large aerial battle the ball skimmed the head of the Hearts captain and landed for Thomson to lift the ball over Gordon and into the empty net.

Thomson is one of several Thistle players unsure of where they will be playing after the summer and said that "he would wait and see, concentrate on the goals and try and enjoy the rest of the season." Grady is also out of contract, Thompson saying of his partner that "he has had a great season and deserves to play in the Premier League."

A Joe Hamill drive for Hearts was deflected wide to Thistle’s relief and then it was Hearts woe when Hartley was dismissed after his second yellow card for a crude tackle on Jamie Mitchell. By now it was fully apparent that the day belonged to Thistle who might have add-ed a cherry on top had Gordon not made a superb save from Willie Howie in injury time.

"I can’t blame the referee for our midfielders and strikers not performing," stated Levein. "With our best players our defenders, the best we could have hoped for was nothing each. There was a sense of frustration because our level of performance was not anywhere near where it should be."

Hearts remain considerably in front of Dunfermline in the race for third place and Levein took heart from the fact that the Fifers now have an additional fixture to contend with after their Hampden semi-final draw with Inverness.

"Winning today would have helped us," said Levein, "but there is still a lot to play for."

If you think Thistle have little to play for, then they did not indicate that here. They did not create the impression of a team propping up the division but then Hearts didn’t look like the third side in Scotland yesterday either.

Taken from the Scotsman

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