Scottish Football: Thistle show sharpness

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The Independent Online
It has been a long time since a game involving Falkirk and Partick Thistle could be given a Match of the Day tag, but with the rest of the Premier League cancelled to allow Andy Roxburgh a chance to prepare his Scotland squad for Wednesday's World Cup qualifying match in Switzerland, the two teams took centre stage.

Thistle, back among the elite after 10 years, displayed deadly finishing power last week in scoring six goals against Dundee, but on Saturday, with Roxburgh watching two of the clubs he played for, Craig Nelson gave an inspired goalkeeping display to help his side to a narrow but welcome 1-0 win courtesy of a Gerry Britton goal. The victory lifts Thistle to fifth place while Falkirk remain bottom.

The added prominence given to the First Division failed to capture the imagination of the public with little evidence of an increase in gate, while at Ibrox Rangers reserves drew more than 8,000 for their match with Motherwell.

The First Division leaders Raith Rovers had to rely on a late Gordon Dalziel goal, his seventh of the season, for a victory over Hamilton which fended off the challenge of Morton, who were 2-0 winners at Ayr.

At Clydebank, the VIP box was overflowing for the visit of Kilmarnock, with Jack McGinn, the Celtic director, Joe Jordan, the Hearts manager, Murdo MacLeod of Hibs, and the former Clydebank player, Davie Cooper, among the crowd of 2,216. They saw an entertaining match end 1-1, with the promotion contenders, Kilmarnock, fortunate to leave with a point.

The best performance of the day came from Dunfermline, whose five goals against Stirling Albion included a brace from Paul Chalmers, their recent signing from Swansea City.

Scotland who play Switzerland in a World Cup qualifying match in Berne have lost the services of defenders Stewart McKimmie and Alan McLaren and midfielder Jim McInally, though strikers Gordon Durie and Kevin Gallacher, who joined the squad in Glasgow yesterday, dispelled doubts about their fitness.

Mark Aizlewood, the Bristol City defender is out of the Wales squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.