Loss for Thistle in cup clash
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Turriff Thistle 0 - Bridge of Don 2
Turriff Thistle’s new year started with a disappointing loss to Bridge of Don in the first round of the Stephen Shield, which is the Division One (North) League Cup competition.
The Jags fell behind within five minutes to an absolute freak of a goal but fought back well to create several scoring chances, however, the one goal deficit remained at the interval.
Thistle hit back even harder in the second half but just could not break down the resolute Bridge of Don who capitalised on the Jag’s all out pressure late in the match to add a second goal.
Worse was to fall Thistle when a last gasp Dan Bruce tackle resulted in the midfielder being shown a straight red card and, although the 10 men Jags battled on to the final whistle the score unfortunately remained the same.
Despite having a number of first team regulars unavailable Thistle had a full squad of 16 on the team-lines and were delighted to welcome back the experienced Steven Wight after several months out with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Wighty lined up in the centre of a three-man defence, in front of Jordan Ogg, alongside Kian Beaton and Jonny Buist with a midfield of Dan Bruce, Mike McCombie, Mitchell Allan, Joe Bisset and Andy Carder and a front two of Ryan Morrison and Michael Harris.
A full bench consisted of Lewis Cheyne, Bruce Mair, Lee Stuart, Calum Anderson and Colin Bain Jnr.
Straight from the kick-off Bridge of Don pushed up the left-hand side and a looping header from the cross flew over the Jag’s bar.
Thistle hit back immediately and a diagonal ball from Carder dropped behind the defence for Bruce to rush in from the right a send a volley past the post.
The Jags fell behind in five minutes in a crazy fashion when Carder attempted to block a through-ball in midfield but the ball spun off his boot and looped backwards over the defenders behind him and dropped at the feet of a Bridge of Don striker, on his own, 30 yards from goal.
Ogg was off his line like a whippet and out to the edge of his box but the striker reached the ball a split second before him and managed to roll it past him and towards the goal.
Wight chased the ball all the way back but it had already crossed the line before he could get a boot to it.
Thistle re-grouped and tried to settle into their normal passing game on the sticky pitch, however, in 10 minutes, Bridge of Don burst through again on the left-hand side but the final shot flew well past the back post.
The Jags were finding it hard work to break down the visitors’ defence and were reduced to a couple of long-range efforts from Harris that did not trouble the keeper.
The first clear scoring chance for Thistle came in 28 minutes when a cross from Harris on the left found Morrison in the box but his goal-bound shot was blocked.
Both teams continued to cancel each other out as the first half drew to a close, however, Bridge of Don nearly doubled their lead when they were allowed to breakaway, in added-on time, despite being clearly offside, and only a superb double save from Ogg kept the deficit to one.
Thistle started in a more positive manner in the second half and within a minute a cross from Beaton on the right was dropped by the Bridge of Don keeper but the packed defence managed to scramble the ball away to safety.
Another chance presented itself within another minute when a chip forward by Harris dropped for Allan at the edge of the box but his volley zipped past the post.
The Jags were playing with a bit more confidence, however, just couldn’t find the final ball to breach the well organised Bridge of Don back-line.
Another chance for Thistle came in 55 minutes from a cross by Harris on the right but the ball was just missed by Carder at full stretch rushing in at the back post.
Bridge of Don began to work their way back into the match after a sustained period of pressure from the Jags and in 61 minutes they created some space deep in the box on the right but the shot was well blocked by Ogg.
In 65 minutes the visitors worked their way down the left hand side and this time the final shot bounced off the top of the Thistle bar.
In 73 minutes the cup-tie finally slipped away from the Jags when Bridge of Don created space in the box and finally went two-up with a fierce shot from 12 yards that flew into the corner of the net.
Before the re-start Mair came on for Wight as Thistle switched to a 4-4-2 formation for a final push forward, however, these plans were shattered in 78 minutes when, as the Jags pressed forward in numbers, Bridge of Don broke away downfield towards Ogg’s goal.
As the lone striker raced forward Bruce rushed in from the right to tackle him at the edge of the box and the referee immediately showed the Thistle player a straight red card for preventing a goal scoring opportunity although, at the time, the opposition player seemed to be heading away to the left of the goal and not towards it and his dying swan impersonation when tackled was extremely impressive.
The Jags had nothing to lose and continued to press forward during the final 10 minutes and could have had a consolation goal in added-on time when Mair was set free on the right but he was pushed wider and his final shot was blocked.
It is disappointing to be knocked out of your Divisions’ league cup competition, especially at the first round, however, Thistle have one target and only one target for this season, as they continue to re-build their squad, and that is to retain their Division One status for 2022-2023.
With 13 league matches remaining over the next four months, the hard work has only just begun.