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4 Arbroath talking points: Partick Thistle ‘624 minutes’ hoodoo laid bare as Lichties draw another blank

The Lichties must find their shooting boots but can at least rely upon Derek Gaston

Turner, pictured, was the match-winner. Image: SNS
Turner, pictured, was the match-winner. Image: SNS

Arbroath’s survival bid will go down to the wire.

It’s never dull with the Lichties.

Kyle Turner’s clinical brace for Partick Thistle secured a comfortable 2-0 victory for Kris Doolan’s promotion hopefuls.

Now without a win in five, it also keeps Arbroath looking over their shoulders. They could yet finish ninth in the Championship and be plunged into a fraught relegation playoff.

Or they could end the campaign on a high and secure a fifth successive season in the second tier; a truly laudable achievement. It all comes down to next Friday night.

Courier Sport was in Glasgow to assess the taking points.

Shot-shy Arbroath

Arbroath don’t NEED to beat Hamilton on the final day.

A 0-0 draw would be sufficient to retain their Championship status — unless Cove Rangers find a way to beat Morton by 18 clear goals at the Balmoral Stadium, that is. An unlikely prospect.

Nevertheless, matters would be made much less nervy if the Lichties could address their achilles heel; a failure to ripple the net.

Dale Hilson and Tam O’Brien missed half-decent opportunities against Thistle on Saturday but ultimately the visitors were fairly toothless.

Dale Hilson ran himself into the ground on Saturday. Image: SNS

Michael McKenna picked up clever pockets of space in the midfield, Hilson worked tirelessly and Yasin Ben El-Mhanni made a couple of incisive passes in the first period before fading entirely as the game wore on.

However, it appeared to be a team picked for industry rather than inspiration and, as such, Arbroath have found the net just once in their last five matches. They are the lowest scorers in the division with 29.

Whether a change of personnel, strategy or — most challenging of all for a coach — an injection of confidence is required, Arbroath need an attacking spark for the visit of Hamilton.

A rueful Dick Campbell acknowledged that impotence in the final third has been “the same all season”.

He must hope it does not prove to be the defining factor of it.

The hoodoo continues

Arbroath have every reason to be sick of the sight of Partick Thistle.

Not only do they find it maddeningly difficult to get a result against the Jags, the are unable to even ripple the net.

The Lichties are winless in seven against Thistle and have failed to score in their last SIX meetings. Roughly 624 minutes of football between the sides have passed since Colin Hamilton beat Jamie Sneddon on March 1, 2022.

That game finished 1-1.

One must go back further — to December 11, 2021 — for Arbroath’s last victory against Thistle, with Anton Dowds, who was on the bench FOR the Jags on Saturday, and Liam Henderson sealing the 2-0 triumph.

While Arbroath’s focus remains on the battle at the bottom, they may just want Partick to win promotion; purely so their paths won’t cross next season.

Outstanding Derek Gaston

While there were few pass marks during a forgettable trip west, Derek Gaston did not deserve to be on the losing side.

The experienced goalkeeper was fantastic between the sticks and, frankly, was the difference between a defeat and a drubbing.

Gaston was Arbroath’s undoubted star man. Image: SNS

He made terrific stops to deny Turner, Darren Brownlie and Brian Graham as Thistle peppered the Arbroath goal-mouth.

All the more impressive, given he was battling illness ahead of the game.

Gaston’s quality and consistency should come as no surprise following four years between the sticks at Gayfield, but Arbroath remain lucky to have him — and one more big display may be all that is required to seal safety.

A sense of perspective

Recency bias can be a compelling force, while momentum is undeniably crucial at this stage of the campaign.

So, things may appear bleak.

However, it is worth noting that Arbroath would have accepted this scenario a couple of months ago.

A poor start to this campaign necessitated a mid-season rebuild — never an easy task — and, as recently as February 25, the Lichties were rock-bottom of the Championship.

Campbell’s Arbroath will face a final day shootout. Image: SNS

It is only the seven-game unbeaten streak between February and the start of April, including vital victories over Queen’s Park and Ayr, that ignited the hope of a relatively stress-free eighth place finish; perhaps even safety with room to spare.

It hasn’t been that easy.

However, avoiding defeat against Hamilton is an achievable goal.

It’s still in Arbroath’s hands.

You would rather be them than Accies or Cove Rangers.