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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Preview

Hearts v Partick Thistle – 17th March 2018

Following a hard fought draw with Aberdeen on Saturday there was a more upbeat feel around Lesser Hampden on Friday morning. Having said that, Jags boss, Alan Archibald is under no illusions when it comes to the task his side faces this week. No matter what happens on Saturday though, Archie is confident that the positives from the clean sheet against Aberdeen will put his side in a good position when they travel to Tynecastle.

Speaking to on Friday morning before training, Archibald said: “I think first of all the biggest thing is the clean sheet against a good Aberdeen side. It gives us something really positive to go and build on this weekend. Aberdeen are a good side and so are Hearts so we can go into Saturday’s game with good confidence and hopefully take the three points.

“We showed great character and that was one of the biggest things for me. The pitch combined with the weather didn’t make for good football but we had played good football the week before against Dundee and took nothing from the game so that might have been a good thing. It was great to see the character and to see the game out as well even when we were under a bit of pressure in the last five minutes. The players had a real will to keep it out of the net and get that clean sheet so hopefully it will be a valuable point come the end of the season.”

Speaking of points the gaffer was keen to emphasise that it is position in the table that matters most now, not the aesthetics of his side’s play.

“It’s all just about getting the points now. We’ve stressed that to the players as we have had a mixed season in terms of performances – you can tell that by where we are in the league – and everyone wants to play well but at this time of the season it’s just about getting points on the table and that really is all that matters.”

Thistle face a Hearts side on a poor run of form but, despite the games so far this season both being very close, Archibald knows his side will be in for a stern test.

“Hearts would probably think themselves that they’re on a bit of a bad run but I don’t think they’ve lost since they went back to Tynecastle so they certainly can’t be underestimated. I think Craig has done exactly what he said he was going to do by making them really hard to beat at Tynecastle and they’ve done that, going on a fantastic run at the same time. It’s always a hard place to go, everyone knows that going there now.

“It’s always a good place to go and I certainly used to love playing there with the fans right on top of you but, like any big club, I think the fans can get frustrated and if we can turn them that way it can work in our favour. We look forward to going there and they have been close games between us so far this season – two draws I think – so there’s not much between us really.”

Following last season’s top six success, Thistle’s league position this season is perhaps a surprise. Regardless of expectations though, the Jags boss knew it was always going to be tougher this time around.

“We certainly hoped to be doing better but at the same time we were well aware of how hard it was going to be this season with another big side coming into the league and all the teams in the league spending that little bit extra. Having said that, what we didn’t see was us going on a really bad run but injuries also played a big part in that. It is what it is now though and we just need to get on with it.

“The good thing is that the players are aware of it and know what to expect. It’s not a bolt out of the blue and we never came into the season expecting to be a top six side – it was never like that – we’ve been here before though and hopefully that equips us well to deal with it.

“The games are always with you, but especially when things aren’t going to plan, you can’t shake it off. You’re always thinking about what you’re going to do. You learn how to control it and how to hide it better but it doesn’t ever go away.”

Finally, the manager gave us a rundown of his team news and it was, for the most part, positive.

“We’re looking a bit healthier than we were last weekend in terms of Abdul Osman coming back into the squad. He pulled out on the day of the game last week as he was ill. That was a loss but thankfully it didn’t cost us. Obviously Conor Sammon misses out because he can’t play against his parent club but Dumbuya and Keown will hopefully train today (Friday) so could be in contention for the match.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Callum Booth, Ryan Edwards and Jags gaffer, Alan Archibald, are now available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them. 

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