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April 20, 2024

cinch Championship

Partick Thistle




Aidan Fitzpatrick 52
Brian Graham 61, 68
Ricco Diack 85



Partick Thistle inflicted a heavy second-half defeat on Airdrie, but the Diamonds have a play-off rematch to look forward to after results elsewhere guaranteed a minimum fourth-placed finish for Rhys McCabe’s men.

Airdrie’s recent heavy schedule had caught up with the squad, meaning captain Adam Frizzell and vice-captain Cammy Ballantyne were forced to drop out with minor injuries, Lewis McGregor and Arron Lyall their replacements.

In contrast to the last meeting at the Wyre Stadium, the sun was shining on the West End of Glasgow as the hosts started on the front foot, an early Kerr McInroy inspired attack closed out by some solid defending before Craig Watson cleared from Brian Graham, unaware that the offside flag had gone up.

Airdrie hit back as Charlie Telfer, wearing the captain’s armband, picked out Mason Hancock with a lofted free-kick. The full-back did well to cut inside, but had to shoot with his weaker right foot and the resultant shot was high and wide.

Thistle left-back Harry Milne found himself in the centre forward position on 13 minutes, drawing a strong save from Robbie Hemfrey in the Airdrie goal, before Lyall fired just wide from 20 yards two minutes later.

Good footwork from Telfer was met by an uncompromising Luke McBeth clearance, with Milne heading narrowly over from a 23rd-minute corner as play flowed from end to end.

The former Cove defender was in good form at both ends, denying McGregor with a perfectly-time sliding challenge on 27 minutes, with Hemfrey fielding a Graham volley two minutes later.

Scott Robinson looked set for a strike at goal just after the half hour mark, but Dean McMaster scrambled back to block well.

The play was mirrored at the other end, with McGregor being freed by a ball over the top. It took a good block from goalkeeper David Mitchell to deny the Diamonds winger.

Gabby McGill was stretching to get a toe on Kanayo Megwa’s 36th-minute flick-on, and couldn’t summon the power to beat Mitchell. The home side retaliated by moving the ball quickly up the park, but Graham couldn’t keep his angled header down.

Thistle should have taken the lead five minutes before the break, with two attackers perfectly placed to turn home a low ball from the right wing, but neither could apply the finishing touch.

Airdrie ended the half strongly, Mitchell gathering a Lyall shot after a nice passing move before McMaster also tested the keeper with a powerful low strike.

The second half opened in similar fashion, a deflection allowing Mitchell to gather after Lyall and Hancock had worked the ball forward, but three goals in sixteen minutes ensured the points were staying in Maryhill.

Aidan Fitzpatrick opened the scoring on 15 minutes, running onto a long ball with the linesman’s flag staying down. The Thistle striker sidestepped Hemfrey’s despairing dive and stroked home the opener.

Graham was inches away from connecting with a Ben Stanway cross-shot four minutes later, with Hemfrey then denying Milne after a mazy run had taken him into the box.

The home side’s second came on the hour-mark, a long-range strike from Stanway saved by Hemfrey, but as the ball spilled loose it was Graham who reacted quickest and lifted the ball over the prone goalkeeper.

Graham put a 64th-minute header wide of the post on 64 minutes, with the home defence reacting well to charge down McGill’s shot a minute later.

Hemfrey made a fine diving save as the hosts continued to push, and on the 68th-minute Graham got his second and Thistle’s third, controlling a forward pass and showing good composure to avoid Callum Fordyce’s sliding challenge before curling a fine finish beyond Hemfrey.

Double substitutions for both sides did little to alter the flow of the match, with Airdrie chasing the game and Partick happy to hit on the counter.

Further changes interrupted the game, and Kris Doolan’s side notched a fourth as the match was petering out. Substitute Ricco Diack ran on to a ball to the right of the box, and as Hemfrey rushed out the young striker passed into the net for his second goal against the Diamonds this season.

Two late Airdrie attacks came to nothing, Mitchell saving well from substitute Gavin Gallagher before a brave block denied Telfer from the edge of the box, and the match ended with the Diamonds soundly beaten.

There were only seconds to wait for a silver lining to be added to the cloud, as final whistles around the country meant that Airdrie had secured a play-off place despite the result. A double-header against the Jags now awaits the Diamonds following the end of the regular season.

Stuart Mathie.

Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.

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