SPFL Ladbrokes Premiership
Sat 29 March, 2014. Kick Off: - 15:00
McDiarmid Park, Perth.
Despite the loss to Celtic midweek Alan Archibald is positive going into Saturday’s vital clash with St Johnstone on Saturday.
Alan said: “Wednesday was very disappointing and I think the start set us back no end, they knocked us out of our stride before we even got going and we struggled to get the ball back for the first ten minutes. We did improve as the first half went on but not retaining possession cost us in the end.
“There were positives to take though, we limited Celtic to only a few chances in the first half and they didn’t really test our goalkeeper. We kept it compact for most of the first half too but in terms of the second half Christie’s goal is probably the only real plus that we can take from it to be honest.”
Looking forward to Saturday’s match Alan knows that it is the first of seven games that will be massively definitive to Thistle’s season.
“I think it’s vital to start the match really well, St Johnstone are on a good run of form and have picked up a few good results recently. They are comfortable in the top six now and they’ve started making a few changes but it certainly hasn’t hampered their performances at all. They’ve added a lot more to their game since earlier in the season, we watched them against St Mirren and they just looked a threat all over the pitch.”
Archie admitted that it is hard not to keep an eye on the results around Thistle but that getting points on the board is always the priority.
“I think first and foremost you have to concentrate on your own results but once you’ve got that victory in the bag, the first thing you’ll do is check what happened elsewhere. Once you’ve done your job, you can only hope that results elsewhere will take you further up the table.”
A tough task in Perth is made all the more difficult for Archibald with a mounting injury list. Welsh and Osbourne are both still out and Higginbotham is suspended but on top of that Balatoni and Muirhead are both out and Mair remains 50 / 50 after picking up a knock on Wednesday night.
After the late drama of Doolan’s 90th minute equaliser in Perth, ptfc.co.uk talked to manager, Alan Archibald, to get his thoughts on a hard fought but well deserved point.
Alan said: “It was a great time to score, right at the end, and to be honest it was the least our play deserved. Apart from the first five minutes I thought the lads played very well today. We were poor at the start and we never really got to grips with St Johnstone at all. It was disappointing to lose such a scrappy goal so early, especially given there was a deflection in there too, but I think the response from the team was great.
“As the game went on we increased the number of chances and we were determined to at least get a point out of the game.”
Alan was happy with the point and thought, on another day, it could have been three.
He said: “We certainly created enough chances to win the match and, had we scored a bit earlier in the game, I think we probably would have gone on to secure all three points. You know what you’re getting with St Johnstone, they are well organised and extremely difficult to break down so it was always going to be a tough ask – especially having lost an early goal.”
Archie has no doubt that the fight to avoid the playoff spot will go right down to the wire and, with most of the other teams in the lower half also drawing, things are pretty much as you were for the bottom six.
“It certainly looks like the fight to avoid that playoff spot will go right to the end of the season. We’re just looking to keep everything in our own hands and makes sure we are in the best possible position going into the final run of games.”
It was the style of the performance in particular that impressed the manager.
He said: “I felt we played most of the game in their half and I was delighted when Kris Doolan came on and got his goal. In fact, all the subs came on and made a difference today with lawless involved in Kris’s goal. As a manager it’s always great to see your subs come on and make a difference – I was pleased for all the boys today.”