With the ice and snow gone for the time being the Albion were able to get back into action this afternoon with a trip to Glasgow to face Partick Thistle at Firhill. Torrential rain throughout the morning had many at Firhill fearing the game would be postponed but match referee Steven Finnie gave the match the thumbs up just over an hour before kick-off. Big game for both sides then in their attempts to pull away from the bottom of the table. Stirling in particular would have been desperate for points after suffering six straight defeats in all competitions. In fact the Beanos haven’t won a game since that excellent performance against today’s opponents back in October at Forthbank. Injuries and a lack of matches are not helping the Beanos but it cant be denied that an alarming drop off in form is not making things any easier. Team lines for today showed a couple of changes from the Falkirk game as Scott Robertson and Chris Aitken returned to the side. Both Lee Currie and David Witteveen made second appearances as trialists with the Beanos squad still stretched to breaking point.
On a pitch looking the worse for wear it was the home side who kicked off attacking the empty stand normally occupied by visiting supporters. Albion fans who had travelled were along side the Jags faithful in the Jackie Husband stand and it was the home supporters who enjoyed the better start. Sporting their Scotland style retro Blue top the hosts were first to threaten when a Paul Paton cross was headed well wide of the target by Kris Doolan. Stirling were struggling to get on the ball in the early going but a quick break from Ryan Borris gave them some hope. A decent run from the wide man ended with a near post delivery to trialist David Witteveen who spooned his effort past Scott Fox’s right hand post. A ball over the top then caught the Albion defence flat footed and Calum Reidford had to be alert to keep out an angled drive from Liam Buchanan.
Despite the poor underfoot conditions the Jags players were moving the ball about crisply. Stirling were getting caught square a lot as Thistle runners were drifting beyond the visiting defence with ease. Perhaps the patchwork nature of the backline may explain this but it was worrying none the less. A rare piece of attacking play from the Beanos saw Scott Robertson chasing down a lost cause before crossing for Witteveen to head wastefully wide. Balls over the top were continuing to be an area of concern for John O’Neill’s men and it was one such pass which lead to the visitors taking the lead. Michael Doyle attempted to hook a ball out of his six yard area but instead only succeeded in smacking into KRIS DOOLAN who had the simple task of rolling the opener past a helpless Calum Reidford. Stirling almost made an immediate response but Brian Allison’s header following a right wing corner was headed off the line by Paddy Boyle. Remarkably enough if Brian had scored it would have been his third goal in successive league matches, but only the first for his own team!
At this stage the visitors were still in there competing but without really troubling Scott Fox in Thistle goal. A neat move between Chris Aitken, Gordon Smith and David Witteveen ended with the burly striker slicing well wide of goal from a decent position. Have to say the jury is still very much out on Witteveen who seems to have decent physical attributes but is Comvalius like in his tendency to be more clumsy than you would expect from a first division player. A through ball then caught Stirling napping again and Calum Reidford pulled off a great stop to deny the clean through Liam Buchanan. On the follow up Ian Flannigan slapped a 20 yard shot wide of the target. Moments later though the Jags did extend their lead. Some good possession was rounded off by a ball across the Stirling penalty box which IAN FLANNIGAN smacked into the top left hand corner of Calum Reidford’s goal. The Stirling keeper didn’t have a sniff and all of a sudden it was looking like a long way back for John O’Neill’s strugglers.
The match was now in danger of slipping away from the visitors before the half-time cuppas had even been consumed. We should be doing better than this as once again we were making an average team look like world beaters. Witteveen did well to send Heekeng in on goal but Jérôme’s effort was weak and Fox saved with ease. Ian Flannigan and Liam Buchanan had further attempts on Stirling’s goal but neither threatened a third for the hosts. The last incident of the opening half was a booking for Bryan Hodge who committed one sliding challenge too many on Heekeng. There was therefore no more scoring before the break and so as the teams trooped off for the half-time Basa butties the Jags remained in total control.
Half-TimePartick Thistle 2 Stirling Albion 0
A change for the visitors at the lemons as Andy Gibson replaced Michael Doyle. The former Killie lad had been caught out on a few occasions in the opening period and it wasn’t too big a surprise to see him hooked. This switch saw Stirling move to a 3-5-2 formation with Currie, Buist and Allison making up the last line of defence. Scot Buist was booked for a daft foul which gave Thistle a free kick on the edge of the Albion box. After the initial set piece was cleared the ball found it’s way to Chris Erskine who blazed well over from a tight angle. Up the other end Heekeng drilled a 35 yard effort into the empty seats behind Scott Fox’s goal as the Beanos continued to struggle to create any meaningful openings. The visitors needed to get the next goal. It was Partick Thistle who got it. As David Rowson drove into the Stirling box a lazy body check by Lee Currie had referee Steven Finnie pointing to the spot. From 12 yards the game was just about put beyond the Albion’s reach as LIAM BUCHANAN sent Calum Reidford the wrong way to put the Jags three clear and cruising. Ryan Borris then became the next Stirling player to be booked as things went from bad to worse.
The home fans could sense a few more goals were in the offing as Stirling looked totally bereft of confidence and any sort of belief that they could actually make a game of it. Kris Doolan fired a crisp low shot into the gloves of the overworked Calum Reidford as Thistle kept up the all out attack. A double change was then made by the visitors as Witteveen and Heekeng were replaced by Michael Mullen and Stephen Stirling respectively. The changes made little difference as Reidford again had to pull out all the stops to deny Doolan after an initial shot was palmed away by the Beanos keeper. It was now one way traffic as the Albion appeared to all but give up the ghost. Chris Erskine skimmed another shot from distance just wide before Kris Doolan out-jumped Lee Currie to head straight at Reidford from point blank range. Thistle then made their first change as Bryan Hodge made way for Paul Cairney.
The game may have been lost but Stirling at least needed to show some fight. Sadly it just wasn’t in them today, as it hasn’t been for a few weeks. A cross into the Albion box was headed back across the face of goal where somehow LIAM BUCHANAN was given all the time he needed to nod Thistle’s fourth past Calum Reidford. This was the former Cowden strikers last involvement of the afternoon as he was substituted seconds later by Shaun Fraser. A booking for Gordon Smith summed up the strikers day as he’d spent most of it arguing or fouling. Gordon really needs to get back on track or we’re in big trouble. It was soon a fifth for the home side as once again the Stirling defence melted into the Glasgow night sky. David Rowson walked unchallenged into the Albion penalty box and his cutback was eventually prodded home by sub SHAUN FRASER who had only been on the field a matter of minutes.
Those thinking it couldn’t get any worse were to be disappointed. Having only been on the field for a few minutes Rangers loanee Stephen Stirling lunged in on Paul Paton and the referee couldn’t get the red card out quick enough. To be fair as I was in the process of leaving Firhill I didn’t have the greatest of views but it appeared to be a two footed lunge. If so the referee had no choice. At this point the RedWeb team decided to make an early exit. Deena was already getting a soaking in the Glasgow rain and it seemed cruel to let her get any wetter when the match was descending into farce. My match report therefore ends here. Sorry.
As we were leaving the ground and heading for the car a loud cheer went up and it was fairly obvious that Thistle had scored again to make it six. The radio on the way home informed us that the Beanos had pulled one back in injury time courtesy of a penalty from CHRIS AITKEN. The phrase too little too late barely seems appropriate. What a disaster of a day at Firhill. Yes, we have some key players missing but that’s no excuse for not trying a leg and that’s what we saw today. Pathetic. Two home games now for John O’Neill and his team to get the fans back onside. Failure is not an option.
6 - 1
January 15, 2011, 3:00 pm