Doolan praises persistence of two-goal Graham in Partick play-off win

Graham was on hand to net twice from inside the six-yard box on Friday night.

Kris Doolan praises persistence of two-goal Brian Graham in Partick play-off win SNS Group

Partick Thistle manager Kris Doolan hailed Brian Graham’s persistence after the striker hit a double in a 3-0 first-leg win over Ayr in the cinch Premiership play-off semi-finals.

Graham missed two open goals in the first half following Jack McMillan’s 16th-minute opener but he was on hand to net twice from inside the six-yard box after the interval.

Doolan said: “It’s the mark of a good number nine for me, because if you miss a chance and keep dwelling on it you end up missing another one, another one, another one.

“As a good number nine you miss chances but you are in the position to miss them. You put it to bed, you move it out your mind and you score the next one, and that to me is what Brian does.

“He will miss chances, strikers will miss chances, but ultimately if you keep feeding him the ball they will score more than they miss.

“We talk about a lot going in the six-yard box – that’s where the goals are.”

Doolan hailed his side’s “brilliant” performance as they took their goal tally to 11 in their three play-off games so far.

“It was 3-0 but could have been five or six looking at the chances we had. That’s the way we’re known to play and when we do it well, teams struggle to deal with us.

“Those patterns of play we put together and the way the players execute it is different class.”

Ayr were missing 24-goal striker Dipo Akinyemi through illness but manager Lee Bullen bemoaned their defending at Firhill.

“I stood in front of the TV cameras last week at the Queen’s game talking about giving Brian Graham two yards of space and we have just done the exact same thing,” Bullen said.

“It was ludicrous. It’s not as if we have not told the lads all week what we needed to do. McMillan’s runs forward, Graham in the box, stopping crosses, basically we let ourselves down from that side of things.

“You are talking about Dipo, yes it’s a big loss, but you can’t afford to lose goals like that. Even if Dipo is in the team losing goals like that is giving yourself a mountain to climb.”

Bullen hopes to have his top goalscorer back before next Friday’s second leg at Somerset Park.

“It’s only going to be day by day before we know exactly where we are but we are hoping because it’s a week break it gives us a good chance,” he said.

“He tried to train a couple of days but it wasn’t any good. We couldn’t have thrown him out there, it would have been ridiculous.”

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