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Match Preview

Partick Thistle v Ross County – 23rd February 2019

Saturday sees league leaders, Ross County, make the long trip down from the Highlands to The Energy Check Stadium at Firhill to take on a Thistle side that sit top of the form table with three straight league wins. Combine league form with a cup run that has secured the Jags a place in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter final and confidence is very high for the home side.

After he finished the final part of his match preparation, Thistle boss, Gary Caldwell, took time to speak to about the tie but started by reflecting on his side’s recent run of good form.

Caldwell said: “I think you can see the impact these results have had, not just on the first team but through the reserves and away from the players as well. It completely changes the feel about the place and I see that when I speak to the office staff, the supporters, anyone associated with the Club really. There’s more positivity and genuine belief which I think you need if you are going to be successful.

“It’s important that we don’t relax or ease up in any way though, we are where we are as a result of hard work and focus and that is exactly what it will take to keep this run going. Nothing has been achieved yet and we need to be aware of that. We’ve pulled ourselves clear of the bottom two places but it remains incredibly tight from fourth to tenth so if we don’t keep our standards high then someone will take advantage.”

It’s back to back clean sheets for Thistle and while Caldwell is happy that his side have stopped conceding as many goals he still wants more from his players.

“We’re obviously very pleased with any clean sheet and rightly so. That being said though, we still think it is something we can improve on. I thought we gave too many chances away on Saturday and if it hadn’t been for a couple of bits of last ditch defending we might well have conceded. We need to keep working on the small things to close those fine margins and make sure we keep this run going.”

The likes of Steven Anderson and Steven Saunders may have grabbed some of the headlines in recent weeks but the Jags boss was quick to emphasise that it really is a full team effort.

“The experience we brought in at the back has helped to improve the standards overall but we have had a better mind-set across the team to be honest. To just say it is down to those individuals I think would be unfair on the rest of the team. We defend from the front and the work rate from the attacking players has been phenomenal.

“Our approach is very clear, when we have the ball we are all attackers and when we don’t have the ball we are all defenders. It’s something we have been trying to drill in from when we first arrived. I think you can see an intensity in the press from the attacking players now that helps us to win the ball higher up the pitch to alleviate the pressure on the defenders. Likewise, the more defensive players want to get the ball forward quickly to get us back on the front foot when we do win it back.

Finally the gaffer turned his eyes to Saturday’s opponents, Ross County.

“Today will be a tough test against the league leaders but we need to take confidence from our current form. We’ve had some tough matches recently but we’ve come through them all unbeaten. County will bring a threat, they are a strong team and are up at the top of the table for a reason, but if we go into it with the same attitude that we’ve had for the other games since the turn of the year then we are more than capable of getting a result.

“It will be tough but every game is tough in this league. We need to earn the right to go and play football but we are ready and prepared to do just that on Saturday.”

More exclusive preview interviews with Gary Harkins, Jack McMillan and Jags manager, Gary Caldwell, are available to Jagzone subscribers – log in now to see them.

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