IAN McCALL was left frustrated with his players as Thistle deservedly lost 2-1 to Arbroath at a blustery Gayfield Park.

The challenging conditions proved to be the Jags’ undoing, particularly in the first half where they struggled against the wind – but McCall is in no doubt that the better side won.

“They played the conditions far better than us,” he said.

“I know I’ll be accused of making excuses – Arbroath definitely deserved to win – but the wind in the first half was an absolute hurricane and they used it well.

“They were poor goals [to concede] from our point of view. Today’s performance just wasn’t good enough.”

The hosts started the match on the front foot in a frantic opening 45 minutes and had the ball in the back of the net with around five minutes played.

A low corner swung in from Michael McKenna was cleared off the line by Graham, leading to another corner. It was a carbon copy of the one that preceded it but on this occasion, McKenna’s delivery beat everyone and crossed the line for 1-0.

Thistle looked visibly rattled by the opener and struggled to string three passes together, often opting to lump it forward where the ball was then gratefully gobbled up by the Arbroath back line.

The visitors struggled to get out of their own half as home side bombarded them with barrage after barrage and just after the half-hour mark, they deservedly doubled their advantage.

Again, poor defending from a set-piece proved costly for McCall’s side. Another low corner toward the front post wasn’t adequately dealt with, and Craig Wighton was at hand to poke the ball home from 10 yards to mark his debut for the Red Lichties in style.

Dick Campbell’s side continued to turn the screw and could have had the match wrapped up by half-time after spurning a host of opportunities. Thistle goalkeeper Scott Fox had to be alert to deny McKenna a second goal directly from a corner when he tipped the midfielder’s effort over the bar and Thomas O’Brien will feel disappointed not to have got on the scoresheet when he shanked his effort from a corner wide of the far post.

McCall switched his formation around in the second period and while the away side performed far better than they did in the first half, Thistle failed to adequately test Derek Gaston in goal.

Brian Graham went closest with a spectacular overhead kick, but the Arbroath keeper was equal to it.

Graham was not to be denied his first goal for his new club, though, and benefitted from a goalkeeping error to grab a consolation strike with virtually the last kick of the game. Gaston dropped the ball following a cross and the former Ross County man pounced to roll the ball into an unguarded net.

Arbroath assistant Ian Campbell was full of praise for his charges after the final whistle.

“It was a first class performance from us, I don’t think anyone can deny that,” he said. “The conditions were always a challenge and the team that mastered them were probably going to get a wee edge. But overall, our performance was first class.”