Season 2014-15 – First Team Reflections by Easton Thain
Reflecting on the first team and it was a mixed season with highs and lows but, again, towards the end of the season there has been a lot more positives. The start of the season was pretty good all told and without doubt the highlights were the run to the final of the Aberdeenshire Cup. We were written off when drawn away to Cove in the first round but produced a battling display to win 2-1. Despite facing a young Keith side in the quarterfinals at Kynoch Park nothing was being taken for granted and the players produced an excellent display and the 3-2 win was far more convincing than the score-line suggests. That night Scott Adams scored a magnificent goal that would have graced any top league in World football. The task in the semi-final was hard away to holders Formartine United who had already beaten us in the League at the Viccy. Few that were there that night though could argue against the fact that it was the performance of the season as we wiped the floor with the home side. It was 3-0 going on about 6 as the home side was outplayed. There were high hopes then that the most magnificent trophy in north football could be lifted after the final against Fraserburgh but it was not to be on a disappointing afternoon at Keith – I think we should avoid playing finals at Kynoch Park from now on! In terms of the league the early highlight was the 4-0 rout of Deveronvale at Banff in which new giant keeper Andy Burr was thrown into the fray after the departure of the legendary Kevin Main – afterwards Andy must have thought that this Highland League is a lark!
The Cup Final loss heralded a bad spell for us with six defeats in a row including the incredible league match at Pitmedden, to this day I still don’t know how we contrived to lose that match. The run was halted with victory at home to Aberdeen University but paper was being covered over the cracks and a horrible loss at home to Fort William followed but all credit went to them who deserved their victory. At this point the board decided a change was necessary and the then management team departed with our thanks for their efforts. We felt that there was no need to rush into getting a new manager when there was experienced players who could take temporary charge none more so than Spider and Lewis so they got the chance to take over initially on an interim basis. It has to be said the instant impact of that was nothing short of incredible. The whole atmosphere had changed with so many happy faces amongst the players. They could not have responded more magnificently than the astonishing 6-1 annihilation of Clach in Inverness, a performance on par with the cup win at Pitmedden. A blip followed at Fraserburgh in the Shield but the year ended with three league wins on the spin the most notable being 2-1 away to Nairn County. The mood was very positive going into the New Year then but everything crashed back down to Earth on January 3rd with a massively disappointing loss at home to Lossiemouth then came the Highland League Cup exit at home to Formartine United. To their credit the lads recovered with two battling displays at home to Fraserburgh and away to Turriff United which resulted in a deserved point from each game and am sure Andy Burr won’t forget the Broch match! Defeats at Brora then home to Wick perhaps showed where we are just now but then everything clicked again with four wins on the spin and fifteen goals scored the most notable success being 2-1 away to Inverurie Locos. That took us into the penultimate game of the season at home to Cove but that proved to be a bad night for us. After a long wait following the Cove match the final game of the season was against Huntly whose manager Gregg Carrol was keen to see his charges complete the double over the Jags. They gave Thistle a good game notably in the first half but the Jags were the better side on the day and duly rounded off their campaign with a deserved 2-0 victory. Once again it was a youngster who caught the eye with a magnificent display in midfield by Drew Copeland summed up by his great 50 yard run before setting up Chris Angus for the decisive second.
Overall though a lot of positives for the team and without doubt the flourishing of the young players has been a major boost and means that the future is bright as they will only get better. Drew Copeland and Kyle Gauld have particularly caught the eye as did the on loan Scott Adams until his injury. The young category still includes Chris Angus, Shaun Wood and Jay Cheyne all of whom have stood out as well. Then there is the most recent capture Kevin Fraser who has been in superb form and he could go on to be a major player next season. Backing up the youngsters have been the experienced players who have guided them along superbly and done their bit for the side as well with Andy Low being the most consistent having played most of the matches this campaign. As ever the management team will be looking to strengthen the side in the close season so that Thistle can be challenging for honours in 2015-16 and possibly a top 6 league finish. With hard work in the pre-season the Jags can take to the field for the first competitive game of the season in July with renewed confidence and a belief that the new season can be one where success can be achieve – we all hope that this is the case. For now the message to the lads is ‘rest ease bonny loons and come back fighting’.