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Football: GRETNA BACK LIVING DREAM.

Byline: ALAN McMILLAN at Firhill

PARTICK 0

GRETNA 6

GRETNA produced the perfect answer to their critics with a six-goal return to top form.

Some felt their bubble might have burst after a run of four games without a win but not judging by this performance.

A young Thistle made a game of it in the first half and were only one behind at the break. But Gretna turned on the style in the second period to hand Dick Campbell's side their second heavy home defeat on the trot following the savaging by St Johnstone.

Jonny Tuffet kept his place in the Firhill goal and was soon called into action. Steve Tosh fed David Graham inside the box and his shot on the turn forced the keeper to save low at his left-hand post.

A free-kick gave Thistle the chance to get something on target in reply but Scott McCulloch's long-range effort was blocked by Derek Townsley.

However, Gretna were soon back sniffing around the home goal and Tuffey did well to punch away a Tosh shot after a Graham cross had been cleared to the midfielder on the edge of the box.

Thistle had an escape in eight minutes when

a downward header by Colin McMenamin

from a Tosh free-kick bounced off the bar.

However, they were unfortunate at the other end when slack defensive play provided an opening.

Mark Roberts had the first crack at it but the ball wouldn't sit up for him and he moved it sideways to Derek Young whose shot was deflected just past.

There looked to be more danger for

Gretna when McCulloch broke out of defence and headed for goal but at the vital moment composure deserted him and he shot tamely wide.

Composure was again the missing ingredient when Adam Strachan bombed past Ryan McGuffie on the left and reached the bye-line only to hit a weak cut-back that was easily cleared.

There wasn't a lot between the sides at this stage but it was Gretna who got their noses in front in 29 minutes.

A Gavin Skelton corner was cleared to Allan Jenkins lurking just outside the box and his shot for goal was diverted past Tuffey by McMenamin.

It was almost 2-0 minutes later when an excellent lay off by Graham saw Jenkins burst into the box but he couldn't keep his shot down.

Blocked

A suicidal back-pass by Tosh gave Strachan a chance to equalise but the youngster fired the ball over Alan Main and the bar.

Jenkins had another chance to score at the start of the second period but dragged his shot past.

Thistle got behind the Gretna defence thanks to quick thinking by McCulloch.

His free-kick caught them napping and Roberts looked set to score until Martin Canning blocked superbly.

But Gretna hit Jags with two goals in five minutes.

In 55 minutes a short pass - back by Billy Gibson saw Tosh pounce to poke the ball past the advancing keeper.

The midfielder was injured in the process and had to be stretchered off as Craig Barr took his place.

Gretna made it 3-0 on the hour mark.

Graham sent over a cross from the left and Townsley sent in a header that crept just inside Tuffey's left-hand post.

The fourth came along in 69 minutes.

A good through ball by defender Canning sent Jenk ins clear on the left and he calmly side-stepped the keeper before stroking the ball home from a tight angle.

The midfielder was clearly delighted with the finish but overdid the celebrations and was booked by referee Charlie Richmond.

To their credit Thistle kept plugging away and had flashes of nice football such as when Simon Donnelly combined with Derek Young who curled a shot just wide.

But in 81 minutes Gretna made it five.

Skelton picked up the ball on the left and cut inside to curl a right-foot shot past Tuffey from outside the box.

In 8 6 minutes sub Matthew Berkeley scored with his first touch of the ball to make it 6-0, tapping in a cross by McMenamin. MoM: McMenamin (Gretna)

CAPTION(S):

Del of a leap: Derek Townsley soars above the static Thistle defence to bullet home the third goal' Tosh: On scoresheet' Skelton: Grabbed fifth
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 24, 2006
Words:711
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