Still Everything To Play For

Last updated : 27 January 2002 By Dave Webster
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First Division table toppers Partick gave Dundee a good run for their money in this exciting cup tie, which was played at a fast pace throughout. But in the end the SPL side could argue they should have won it, with 13 strikes at goal compared to Partick's two.

As John Lambie admitted (in the first half at any rate) his side showed far too much respect for a skillful Dundee side and spent more time trying to close them down than creating any real chances of quality. Now with home advantage the SPL side must be favourites to finish the job at Dens. But who would be foolish enough to rule out the Firhill Magyars?


No one can fault Partick for ambition. Not so long ago they were destined to go down the "tubes", in serious financial difficulties and with a ground that could never come up to scratch for the higher league. Sounds a bit like Dundee of 3 or 4 seasons ago.

Now, they are riding high at the top of the league, re-building their stadium to bring it up to standard, and Lambie has his men playing good football and certainly not short of a mixture of skill players and grafters. Things are looking up at Firhill and this is shown by the confidence of the players who wear the red, yellow and black jerseys with pride.

The first half was dour, and although Caballero and Sara looked dangerous up front they only really looked like finding the net once when Fabian just failed to put Juan in on goal with a great run and pass that was intercepted as the tall striker was about to pull the trigger.

Partick came closer later in the half when McLean found Hardie in space on the edge of the box and his fiercely hit shot was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Dundee's new goalkeeping sensation, Speroni.

Thistle tried to get forward much more in the second period though most of their attacks fizzled out near the Dundee penalty area.

The goal when it came was simplicity itself, though the build up was good and the finish clinical. Constantine crossed from the right, Hardie headed across goal to the far post and there was SCOTT MCLEAN to head powerfully past the Dundee keeper and a defender on the line to put his side ahead.

The old saying that teams are most vulnerable after they have scored a goal was put to the test two minutes later. Dundee surged forward after going behind and perhaps Thistle were still congratulating themselves for taking the lead.

Whatever the reasons, they did seem to lose concentration and when Spaniard KIKO TORRES did a one two with Australian Mark Robertson it looked like the move had broke down, but the ball broke to Kiko and he sent a great shot curling inside the post from nearly 30 yards out giving Arthur no chance at all in goal.

Late in the game the tie could have swung either way. Gerry Britton, former Dundee favourite, hit the bar with a neat effort. Then Frenchman Kemas was almost through, only a brilliant tackle by Stephen Craigan keeping him out.

Britton and Walker were causing problems for the Dundee defence but it was Kemas again, this time put through with a superb pass from Caballero and with only the keeper to beat he hit his shot tamely and Arthur saved easily. Arthur made another great double save, first from Caballero, then the rebound from Carranza.

Both sides live to fight another day and this tie is still wide open. With the winners of this one avoiding the Old Firm, both teams will see the gateway to Heaven opening. To the winner the spoils. Inverness Caley Thistle will be nobody's fall guys, but the chance is surely there to claim a Semi-Final spot.

Partick had crucial players missing as did Dundee. If internationalists Gavin Rae and Temuri Ketsbaia return from injury they could be important to Dundee's chances.

Will February 6th be Dee Day or are Partick ready to take the next step up the evolutionary ladder and prove themselves worthy to take their place with the top teams in the SPL?