SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 19 December, 2015. Kick Off: - 15:00
Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
With confidence high around Firhill it was a very content Alan Archibald who spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of Saturday’s match against Ross County. With a potential place in the top six up for grabs, Archibald was quick to stress the importance of remaining focused in the run up to the game.
“It’s incredible really, the fact that we can go top six this week if we win but could have gone bottom two last week if we had lost just shows how tight the league really is. The run we’re on at the moment has given us a great chance of top six and we’re right in that pack again.
“Going on a run of wins makes a massive difference around the place. We’ve really kicked on since the first win against Dundee United and it’s fine margins at times but we just need to keep this going for as long as we can. Every season since we came up we have had one bad quarter, hopefully that’s out of the road now and we can just concentrate on looking above us and climbing the table.”
The recent run of form has seen Thistle drive up the table as they have consistently beaten those teams around them in the league, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Archibald and his management team.
“For me there is no greater incentive for a side than having the chance to go out and move up the table. We’ve had it in the last few weeks and we have it again this weekend, we just need to ensure we make the most of the opportunity.
“Everyone spoke about the start County had but we can reel them in this week if we win and that is huge reward for the effort the team is putting in at the moment.”
With the January window fast approaching, the Firhill wheels are already in motion to strengthen the Jags’ squad.
“We’ve got our eyes on a few players and we will be looking to bring in as much quality as we can during the January window. It’s a horrible window to do business in as everyone is waiting on everyone else moving players so it can be very difficult. We have our shortlist though so we’ll work hard to get those players who are towards the top end of that list.”
Finally, Archie gave us an update on the state of his squad in terms of injuries.
“Gary Fraser is still struggling after picking up an ankle knock ahead of the match against Dundee United and Christie Elliott is still out, although he has been running and we hope to have him back to some light training soon. Other than that, Robbie Muirhead comes back into contention having sat out last week’s game against his parent team.”
Thistle recorded their fourth consecutive top flight win for the first time in almost 40 years when the side narrowly defeated Ross County by a single goal to nil.
Alan Archibald made one change to the side that triumphed at Tannadice with Robbie Muirhead starting ahead of David Amoo, while Scott Fox returned to Firhill for the first time since his summer move to the Highlands.
Thistle were sluggish to start the game and careless passing almost presented County with several good opportunities.
Cerny had to rush out his box to collect a short pass back from Muirhead. He didn’t, however, get to the ball and Boyce had a real opportunity to put Thistle under some pressure but Osman was on hand to get the ball clear.
The best of which was when Davies brought on a tremendous reactive save from Cerny after a well swung Woods freekick.
Boyce threatened down the left. He twisted and turned to find space but his cross was blocked and cleared for a throw.
Thistle didn’t create many clear cut chances in the first half with Lawless testing Fox for the first time with the half time whistle approaching.
Bannigan did fire a free kick into the box which eventually fell to Osman whose effort was deflected over the bar.
The second half started in a similar tempo before Bannigan’s cross was met by Davies who headed it beyond the helpless Fox to score the only goal of the game.
County had a couple of late penalty shouts which were waved away by referee Dallas, while Doolan managed to hit the crossbar twice in the same move of attacking play, but one goal was all that settled this fixture and Thistle rise to 7th place in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Having won four games in a row for the first time in almost 40 years, Alan Archibald was suitably buoyant when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk shortly after full time in this afternoon’s match.
“We’re obviously delighted with that. I thought we were poor in the first half and that has to be a credit to County, they are a good side and they’re hard to play against. I think we came out for the second half and looked like a different team though.
“The second half suited us more. The game opened up a bit and gave us some time on the ball and allowed us to play some passes too. It wasn’t the best performance but I think that kind of result and performance shows that we have improved as a side. The way we managed the game in the later stages was excellent and it was a very satisfying victory.”
Thistle’s good run has, unsurprisingly, coincided with a change in luck for the Maryhill side, something that Archibald recognised in today’s result.
“I think the nature of the goal typifies how our luck has changed, having said that we did hit the bar twice! It’s not just about luck though, a lot of it comes from really hard work. The goal today was fortunate but it comes from putting the ball in an area. Bannigan plays a great cross that is really tough for the defender to deal with and we come away with the goal and thethree points.”
Although he isn’t one for statistics, Archie couldn’t help but be pleased with writing his name into the history books with today’s victory.
“Statistics are always difficult because they can be spun in different ways. Since I took charge we have had a lot of negative statistics against us so it’s brilliant to be talking about something positive for a change. Long may it continue, there is a great feel around the club at the moment and it is brilliant for the supporters too.
“We’ll not take anything for granted though. We have a reallyhard run of fixtures coming up and the league is incrediblytight. We’ll focus on the next game and keep working hard during the week. Hard work has turned our season around and it is hard work that will help move us up the league.”