Friday 21st September, 2018 at 2:30pm
Football returns to Maryhill for the first time in three weeks as Partick Thistle take on Queen of the South at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill. A poor first 45 minutes away to Inverness cost the Jags dearly last Saturday as they were beaten 3-2 by the Highlanders, however, now they must focus on their next challenge as the Doonhamers visit Glasgow. The Palmerston Park outfit have started the season in good form, losing just once in five league games but after firing a blank for the first time this season last weekend, they’ll be keen to ensure their positive beginning doesn’t slip away as the season progresses. For Thistle, they want to continue their 100% home Championship record which has seen them beat Falkirk and Greenock Morton already this term. Jags boss, Alan Archibald spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of the clash.
We began by asking Archie just how challenging this Saturday’s game is going to be against the league’s fourth-placed team.
“Queen of the South are a very good team with plenty of quality so we know this will be a really difficult game. They have a number of players who can do a lot of damage and they’re a very organised team defensively. Everyone will point to Stephen Dobbie as the main man but they have other guys like Lyndon Dykes and Gary Harkins who can also cause a lot of problems so it will be a very tough fixture in a number of ways.”
The Doonhamers have averaged more than 2.5 goals a game so far this season and the gaffer knows that his defence will need to up their performance from last week if they hope to keep out this weekend’s visitors.
“They’ve been in great goalscoring form this season and I’ve mentioned some of their most dangerous players so if we want to keep them out, we’ll have to improve defensively. At Inverness, we gifted them goals and we can’t afford to do that against this team. Last week it was a goalkick, a corner and a mistake leading to a penalty, all of which are avoidable but we know we can be better than that. Against Morton three weeks ago we were very good defensively so we know we have it in us; it’s just about being more consistent.”
Although the Queen of the South players pose obvious problems for Thistle, having played against them earlier this year, Alan and the squad have a good idea of what they’re coming up against.
“The game against them this January will be good for us because it means we’ve got a bit of experience against them and their style of play. Dobbie was playing that day and we kept him to ranged shots but they gave us a really good game so we expect the same tomorrow.”
Despite the disappointing performance in the Highlands, Archie felt that the second half showing gives his team something to build on this week.
“There were some really good bits of play on our part. Obviously, it’s difficult to take any positives from that game because we lost and performed so poorly in the first half an hour but in terms of the attack, I thought we looked dangerous. We had a few good chances, missed a penalty and scored twice so the forward players shouldn’t be too disheartened.”
We also spoke to Archibald about two other positives from last week, Stuart Bannigan and Jai Quitongo. Bannigan came on in the first half and got nearly an hour of time on the pitch, during which he impressed hugely while Jai Quitongo made his first senior appearance since January as he made his Jags debut, adding an extra layer of dynamism to the Thistle attack.
“We didn’t want to push Stuart into a start when he possibly wasn’t ready. Since pre-season, he’s only played about 75 minutes of football including the Reserve game he played in so to rely too heavily would have been risky. In the end, we made the decision to bring him on and his quality was there for all to see. We actually had a bounce game lined up for him on Tuesday but he didn’t need to play in that because of what happened at the weekend. It was great to get Jai back playing again too because he’s a very talented lad. He’s had two knee operations and I think he’s so keen to be playing that he’s maybe rushed himself back in the past, to the detriment of his physical condition so for us it’s about managing his return but you could see from his short time on the park that he’s an exciting player to have available.”
Finally, we asked about Souleymane Coulibaly and the recent development in his situation following the Club’s official update on Monday.
“It’s one that’s now out of our hands and we just have to wait on a decision. We knew that this was a very possible scenario when we got involved so it’s just about biding our time now and hoping the ruling goes our way. There’s been no financial cost for the Club but hopefully it goes in our favour and hopefully it happens quickly.”
More exclusive preview interviews with Chris Erskine, Niall Keown and Jags gaffer, Alan Archibald, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.
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