Thistle recorded their second win of the North Caledonian campaign today with a solid and careful 3-0 victory over county rivals Invergordon at Grant Park. The game, rescheduled for 1pm to avoid conflict with the Scotland international game, saw goals from Darran Goller and Russell Lawrie as well as Chris Mailley, who notched his first for the club.
Manager John Oliver had to deal with absentees Martyn Farquhar, Robbie Ross and Daniel Christie, while left winger Arron Christie remained on leave. Gordie Oman was handed a first team place, with Michael Brand and Gordon Duff both recalled at the back. Mailley took his spot in a more favoured midfield position, on the left, while Kyle Oliver dropped to the bench.
The forward pairing of Lawrie and Goller had been clever against Balintore this week and as quickly as eight minutes in it had taken effect once again, with Goller finishing well to put Thistle 1-0 up, placing the ball just under the body of Angus Hutchison. Goller had scored twice against Hutchison only two weeks prior, against the keeper's Portland Hotspurs side.
The back two of Duff and Morrison held very well to deal with the counter attacking play of Invergordon, but could do nothing but watch as the Recreation Park men cannoned a shot of the bar, and forced Thistle's Ally Matheson to tip another past the post.
Despite some pressure, Thistle had chances to extend their lead, Lawrie shooting wide and into Hutchison on three occasions.
Lawrie finally found the net in the second half however, when he connected with a Mailley cross just after the hour mark, placing a header into the top corner of Hutchison's net.
At 2-0, Invergordon lost their competitive edge and before long, Christopher Mailley dribbled past a committed Hutchison to make it 3-0 with the calmest of finishes.
In goal, Ally Matheson had a solid afternoon, keeping Thistle's first clean sheet in the North Caledonian league since November 2008 when Barry Nimmons kept it at zero against Thurso.
The result pushes Thistle into fifth place, joint on six points with Dingwall, Golspie, Halkirk and Thurso. In the bottom half, Bonar remain on zero having played only one game due to their water logged pitch, and in other action Balintore were dropped out of the NCFA Cup, losing 7-2 to Muir of Ord in the qualifying round at Seaboard Park. Halkirk beat Golspie 2-0 in the other league game today while Dingwall and Fort William had no fixtures.
Matheson, Mackay, Brand, Duff, Morrison, Austin, Oman, Mailley, Mills, Goller (Sutherland 80), Lawrie
Subs not used:
Goller 8, Lawrie 62, Mailley 78
Man of the Match: