(Last night's match report provided by Steven Martin.)
Tain started brightly and looked the sharper of the two teams as Balti struggled to settle on the wet park. Darran Goller looked dangerous on the break down the right on a number of occasions in the opening spells.
The first controversial incident came only 10 minutes in when a long hopeful clearance from stand in sweeper Robbie Ross deceived Henderson in the Balintore goal and bounced over his head and in to the back of the net. Gary McCarthy had judged there to be a foul on the stopper by Tain's young striker John McClellan, much to the amazement of all 22 players and coaching staff of both teams.
After this match changing decision the home team were able to get a foothold in the game playing some excellent football, spreading the ball round a solid back three of Calderwood, Stainkie and Ross.
Both teams were now looking to break the deadlock in what was turning into a rather exciting encounter, Martyn Farquhar and Daniel Christie coming close for Thistle.
Andrew Ripley and Jamie Martin both had chances for the seaboard men which were dealt with comfortably by Steven Martin Michael Brand respectively.
25 minutes saw the first goal of the night when a hopeful Gus Macdonald cross looped into the top corner of the net; the goal scorer admitting after the game that it was a fluke.
The game slowed down after the goal with both teams keeping good position of the ball. The only other chance of note in the first period came after 40 minutes when Ally Macdonald hit a ferocious drive from 25 yards, Martin got a finger tip to it, but with the effort still flying goalwards Goller stood strong and saved the effort with his face, Mccarthy waived away a weak call for handball by awarding the corner kick.
Half time 1-0
The second half saw the league favourites taking firm grip of the match, and looking to build on their slender lead. Andrew Ripley and Ross Powell were starting to cause the Thistle back line some problems; however, Ryan Cowie, Andrew Sutherland and Robbie Ross were battling well and keeping the threats on goal to a minimum.
The second and decisive goal came after 55 minutes when Jamie Martin was able to slip round the outside after a poor headed clearance from Cowie, as the full back tried to recover to block the cross, the ball deflected off of his trailing leg and deflected into the net despite the best efforts of Steven Martin and Ross on the goal line.
Thistle continued to battle away but the home side still looked the more dangerous on the break. Jamie Martin thought he had added a third on the hour mark, but the goal was correctly chalked off as the midfielder had used an arm to put the ball over the line.
The third goal was to come shortly afterward, the back line of the jags switching off for the first time in the match to allow a quick short corner to be played to the feet of Gus MacDonald who was able to turn his man and fire a low drive into the bottom corner and effectively kill off the game.
The action however was far from over and Thistle seemed to get a lift for the final 20 minutes of the match. The now more advanced Farquhar and Christie linked up well and the latter forced a top drawer save from Henderson diving to his left and at full stretch guiding the ball over the cross bar.
The home side had a chance to add to the score line with 10 minutes remaining when Martin in the Thistle goal was adjudged to have fouled the leagues top scorer Andy Ripley in the area, much to the surprise of the nippy striker the ref awarded a penalty kick. The striker dusted himself down to take the spot kick, he placed the ball low to Martin's left, but the stopper was equal to the effort and was able to push the ball round for a corner.
The Jags survived one final scare when the impressive Ally MacDonald was able to skip between the tiring back line of Ross and Nimmons and was able to lift the ball over the advancing Martin, only for Ryan Cowie to sprint back from 8 yards to slide the ball off of the goal line under pressure from Ripley.
Balti were reduced to 10 men in the final minutes when stalwart Alan Stainkie mistimed a challenge on McClellan, the forward doing well to get his standing foot off the ground in time.
Final Score 3-0
Team:Martin, Ross, Cowie, Sutherland, Farquhar, D. Nimmons (Johnson), Brand, Goller, Rostock (C. Nimmons), D. Christie, McClellan
Subs not used: Matheson