Jags kick off their season by hitting County for four

THIS was worth the wait.

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Stuart Bannigan is congratulated on his goal by Abdul Osman, Kallum Higginbotham and Ryan Stevenson
Stuart Bannigan is congratulated on his goal by Abdul Osman, Kallum Higginbotham and Ryan Stevenson

Thistle's start to the season was delayed for a few days but they made a blistering return to action last night.

Back in May a defeat to Ross County rounded off their first campaign back in the top flight, but this time round Partick took their revenge and caught the eye with a 4-0 triumph.

Last term's tenth-place finish wasn't a true reflection of the Jags' performances, and their aim this time around is not just to survive, but become one of the country's leading clubs.

One game in, they have their first four goals and three points and have set a high standard to go with their lofty ambitions.

Their thumping victory was more than deserved, and boss Alan Archibald said: "We had a few performances like that last year - we just didn't score the goals. The difference this time was that we put the ball in the box, we made the other team defend and we got the goals."

Thistle started with summer arrivals Daniel Seaborne, Abdul Osman and Ryan Stevenson in their ranks and it took them 20 minutes to find their feet.

But when Jags finally got going there was little let-up for the Staggies' defence as the hosts knocked the ball about the pristine Firhill pitch with speed and precision.

Kallum Higginbotham got himself needlessly booked as he spurned the first chance of the match. After collecting a slack pass from Tim Dreesen, he was penalised for diving.

It was the first of several let-offs for Derek Adams' side as Thistle impressed yet couldn't find a goal. Higginbotham and Stevenson combined to almost set up Stephen O'Donnell at the back post before the right-back's cross was met by Gary Fraser, the midfielder seeing his effort come back off the woodwork from a tight angle.

With Thistle well into their stride, the pressure continued to grow. Stevenson and Stuart Bannigan were both denied by Antonio Reguero. There was a scare for Jags when Jake Jervis got in behind the Jags defence but after his shot went wide across the target, Thistle made the most of their reprieve.

A NEAT Higginbotham pass on the edge of the area was collected by Bannigan, whose cool dink over Reguero opened the scoring in the 39th minute.

It was an advantage they were more than worthy of, but one they almost didn't retain as the half drew to a close. Partick keeper Scott Fox did well to deny Rocco Quinn before Graham Carey's strike rattled the bar as County hunted the equaliser.

After the interval Thistle picked up where they had left off and didn't have long to wait for their second goal.

With 54 minutes on the clock, O'Donnell collected Fraser's slide-rule pass and his cross hit County substitute Ben Frempah and looped up and over Reguero into the net.

Once again, the visitors came back into it after Thistle's goal, with Fox denying Jervis at point-blank range.

The Jags were more clinical, however, and their third goal in the 72nd minute was the best of the lot.

Steven Lawless jinked his way into the penalty area before Christie Elliott teed up the onrushing Fraser to slot the ball into the bottom corner.

There was still time for O'Donnell to carve his name on the scoresheet in the 91st minute with a low strike as Thistle got their Premiership season off to the perfect start.


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