IAN McCALL was pleased as his Partick Thistle side got their Premier Sports Cup campaign off to a winning start courtesy of a 2-1 win over Stenhousemuir. 

Kyle Turner gave the visitors the lead at Ochilview shortly after half-time before Matty Yates restored parity with 25 minutes to go as he followed in to convert from close range. 

Thistle striker Brian Graham restored the Championship club’s lead with a well-placed header on 75 minutes to hand his side the three points ahead of Wednesday night’s visit to Rugby Park. 

“There was a lot of really good stuff played,” McCall said. “We had two or three great chances in the first half and the first goal is so important in these games. 

“It’s still very early but some of the passing and movement was really good. 

“We gave Stenhousemuir an easy goal but it was great to play on a day like this. The heat will be great for the players’ fitness. 

“These games are always hard and Stenhousemuir looked good. They were well-organised and I think they will have a good season. 

“So it was great to get the win and now we move on. These games are all about building fitness but most importantly winning.” 

The Thistle bench had a distinctly youthful feel about it, with academy graduates making up the majority of the available substitutes. 

McCall is planning on strengthening the squad in the coming weeks and the Thistle manager confirmed that negotiations are ongoing with Aidan Fitzpatrick – the ex-Jags winger currently on trial at Firhill – and his former club Queen of the South, who would be due a chunk of a development fee for the 21-year-old. 

“Yes, we are still working on something,” McCall added. “We shall see.” 

Stenhousemuir started the match strongly but it wasn’t long before Thistle started to control possession and fashion opportunities. Kyle Turner and Cammy Smith both had good opportunities but both dragged their efforts just wide of the far post, while Brian Graham forced a good stop from Conor Brennan after latching onto a long ball forward. 

The Jags couldn’t make their dominance count in the first half but they got the lead their play deserved on 54 minutes. Graham glanced a ball forward onto Turner, who showed good composure to calmly slot the ball home for 1-0. 

The Warriors responded well though, and it wasn’t long until the scores were level again. The Thistle defence were sleeping as Nickie Jamieson ghosted in behind to direct a header at goal; Jamie Sneddon did well to keep the initial point-blank effort out, but Yates showed good awareness to follow up and stroke the ball home. 

There was then a warm welcome for Thistle centre-half Darren Brownlie, who was brought on with 20 minutes to go as he made his first competitive appearance in over a year. 

“We weren’t sure if we should start Darren because the pitch is Astroturf,” McCall explained. “It’s the same at Killie but I think after that he’ll be ready. 

“It’s a really key thing for us to get him back to the way he was. He was the best centre-back in League One when we won it and he is a terrific player.” 

The away side redoubled their efforts and they got their reward on 75 minutes courtesy of a well-worked counter-attack. Jack McMillan and Cammy Smith combine well down the left, resulting in the former curling an inviting ball into the area that Graham steered home with aplomb. 

“We will take the positives but the goals we lost were disappointing,” said Stenny manager Stephen Swift. “I think they were preventable. 

“Thistle had a couple of chances in the first half where they really cut us open and you’re thinking ‘oof, fair play, that was a good move’. 

“But the actual goals we conceded, I think it was our own doing so that’s the disappointing aspect. 

“The boys gave maximum effort and we caused some real problems at times.”