Partick Thistle 1 v 2 Inverness CT
Dare to believe. It’s a fashionable saying that will no doubt be aired in parts of Glasgow and Dundee prior to Monday’s quarter final draw in the Scottish cup, but it has particular meaning in these parts. Inverness carry the Highland torch this season, but they had to fight in the end for that right as Partick pushed them right at the death.
You could tell it was Scottish Cup time, threadbare pitches and glorious winter sunsets being in evidence as both teams faced up with equal belief that it would be they who progressed. The home side were buoyed by the return of centre forward Lyle Taylor on loan from Scunthorpe, whilst some wondered how Inverness would fare without his counterpart. Those questions were answered quickly, and without any doubt.
Partick actually started this game brightly, but then defensively fell apart as the first half progressed. Inverness pressed them as high up the pitch as they could and Partick found themselves dispossessed by the twin midfield enforcers of Draper and Vincent. The first goal was a case in point. Draper flew into Osman inside his own half as the Partick man dithered, and in one movement relieved him of any choice in the matter and put the ball on a plate for Marley Watkins to outstrip the last line of defence and plant the ball past Gallacher.
The only surprise was that it had taken Caley Thistle 16 minutes to score, such was their dominance. "We were very good in the first half, we did enough to score two or three goals” said John Hughes. “Some of the stuff we played in the first half, it was real good stuff. Dominated the game and should have been two or three goals up”.
Watkins could have had a hat-trick in less than thirty minutes, Draper might have scored and Partick couldn’t muster a single response.
Inverness’s second was a thing of beauty, crafted and packaged in Merseyside and inspired in France. Zenidine Zidane had a trademark turn and spin that Greg Tansey decided to borrow and in doing that, take out three Partick defenders. As he slalomed past another two, the goal opened up and he rattled the ball past Gallacher. An extraordinary goal, it simply reinforces that this lad doesn’t do ordinary goals. From his first strike for the club against Dunfermline to now, all have been of such quality that he's got his very own "top drawer".
It was, I suppose, too much to hope for that this particular hammering would extend beyond the interval, and it didn’t. Credit to a shell-shocked Jags they changed shape, stiffened the midfield and brought on Taylor.
He pulled one back in 67 minutes, running on to a ball and either outmuscling Josh Meekings or grabbing a handful of his shirt depending on your outlook. Either way, the ball flew past Esson and, as they say, the game was on.
Partick launched everything at Caley Thistle, and only a magnificent stop by Esson from Seabourne at the death saved Inverness from the most unlikely of replays. “It was a game of two halves, all Partick Thistle in the second, they threw the kitchen sink at us but we stood solid and firm." Said John Hughes. "On our first half performance it would have been an injustice had we not won the football match. We never beat Partick Thistle, in fact they battered us last time we came here, but I was really confident coming here today. I knew the way the boys trained, the way we prepared the match, that we were going to be at it and that was the case in the first half. In the second half the game just run away from us but we showed resilience and character just to dig it out."
That just about summed it up, and as everyone tidied up after the game, we were treated to a quite magnificent Glasgow sunset. As the sun set on the west, could Hughes and his side dare to believe that it was rising in the North? We’ll soon find out, as Monday brings a fifth round draw in which Celtic and Dundee United are the only other remaining Premiership contenders. Dare to believe.
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