Gaffer calls for repeat performance vs Partick

Manager Jonatan Johansson has called for a repeat of the clinical performance that saw his side come from behind to beat Partick Thistle at Cappielow last month when the sides meet again on Saturday.

Jags midfielder Brice Ntambwe headed Gary Caldwell’s side in front on Sinclair Street, but goals from Gary Oliver, Bob McHugh, who bagged a brace, Jack Iredale and Michael Tidser saw the hosts run out 5-1 winners.

They successfully converted five of seven attempts on target that afternoon as Johansson enjoyed his biggest win as Ton boss, and he has pointed to their display that day as an example of what they are capable of.

Speaking with media officer Jonathan Mitchell to preview this weekend’s Ladbrokes Championship fixture, Johannson said: “That was a good game.

“Partick started well and scored first, but after that we showed great character and were really clinical in the final third. Not only was there good attacking play, but we finished it off.

“That is something that has been missing in some of the games. Although we haven’t picked up enough points, I feel like the performance have been good but that final touch hasn’t been there.

“So I’m looking for us to be as clinical in the final third as we were that day, because it’s going to be a tough game. Partick came down from the Premiership last season with hopes of going straight back up.

“It’s hasn’t happened for them so far, but they still have a very good squad and are a very dangerous opponent away from home. Before my time we lost 1-0 there, so it’s a tough place to go to and we need to be ready.”

The Ton lost 2-1 to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in their last outing, but the Greenock gaffer took positives from the game after his team came close to taking a point despite playing just under an hour with 10 men.

He added: “We looked back at the Inverness game, did our video analysis today, and I also watched the game back a couple of times, and there were a lot of good things.

“Our start was very good, one of our best at home, and we had three or four crosses, a couple of corners, and really had them on the back foot, but they scored from their first attack.

“We were a little bit slow and got cut open through the middle. Then it’s a silly mistake for the sending off and that obviously changes the whole game.

“They scored the second goal from a corner, which was disappointing. We couldn’t stop the short corner coming in and that extra man scored.

Five alive … Jack Iredale celebrates after scoring in the last meeting between the clubs © David Bell

“After that I felt we created three or four good chances. We scored one and could have had another one; I was pleased with the way we outplayed them at times with 10 men.

“The start was good and I’m challenging the players to get on the front foot from the beginning, to press, and pick up second balls. That was good against Inverness, and it’s a big pitch there so we need that to be the same.”

Ton travel to Firhill minus the services of suspended duo Michael Tidser and Kerr Waddell, and Johansson hopes to have Gregor Buchanan available for selection with his defensive options depleted.

He explained: “Michael and Kerr are both suspended. It’s unfortunate and we’ll miss them both, but it’s something we have to deal with. Suspensions are part of football.

“I’m hoping Gregor could be back. Jack [Iredale] is training a little bit, so there is some good news but defence is an area that we are very short at the moment.

“Gregor has bruising and a little bit of swelling under the knee and is probably closer than Jack. We are hopeful – but they are both doubtful.

“Because he has a good football brain, it [central defence] is a position Jim [McAlister] can handle, so I know I can use him there if I need to.

“But I’m reluctant to use Jim at the back. He did well when he had to go back there against Inverness, but it’s not his position.”

When asked for further teams news, he added: “Denny’s injury is a tricky one. He has been joining in training but the knee is not there yet and we need to keep working hard with him. Hopefully he will be involved soon.

“Gary Oliver is definitey out too. We are a bit short with the two suspensions on top of the injuries, so we will have a young bench again.”


Image: Gary Bradley