Friday 4th May, 2018 at 9:51am
As the thistle squad build up to one of the biggest games of recent seasons, it is clear that Friday night’s match is absolutely massive. Alan Archibald took time out of a busy training week to speak to ptfc.co.uk about the clash with bottom of the table Ross County.
“I’ve been in charge of a lot of games here and I think this could well be the biggest, the enormity of it speaks for itself. It’s very similar to the last time we played them when we were up there. We’re just ahead of them but they could leapfrog us with a win while we could open some ground up if we win. It’s a huge game.
“The big thing for me is momentum. If we can win on Friday night it gives us the momentum to keep going and build into the next one. Conversely a win for us also takes any momentum they might build right out of them. We said that after Saturday’s draw in Perth, that point in itself might not mean anything come the end of the season but not losing a game keeps things going in the right direction.”
Plenty of Thistle fans will have a close eye on Saturday’s fixtures but Archibald is focussed exclusively on Thistle’s own fixtures.
“It’s at that stage of the season where it’s difficult to tell what the best result is in terms of the other games. We just need to concentrate on ourselves and go win the game – that’s all we can do. We’ll be focussed on Friday night and make sure we get the win for Partick Thistle, one way or the other the other fixtures will look after themselves so we just need to look after us.”
The last time the two sides met Thistle went down 4-0 to the Staggies in a match that many predicted would derail the Jags’ survival plan. Things didn’t quite turn out like that but everyone in the Thistle camp knows there are lessons to be learned from the encounter.
“I think we’re in a far better frame of mind than we were after the trip up north a month ago. We had a couple of meetings after the game. It all went wrong that night but we’ve had a chance to reflect on it and we got a fresh start after the split to try and go turn things around. Getting the winning start gave us a great platform on which to build and we just need to take it a game at a time now.
“Don’t get me wrong though, there was plenty to learn from in terms of the mistakes made in that game and we haven’t forgotten about it by any manner or means. It was a tough night and we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again on Friday.”
Some people might expect the size of the game to have a negative impact on the players’ mentality but Archibald insists his players thrive off the big games and the atmosphere that comes with them.
“I think nerves do have an impact and you sometimes see that in terms of the quality in a game disappearing. There will be tension and nervousness but we need to get that settled early and get our heads in the game.
“As a player you want to play in these big games, they’re what you look for. Granted you’d rather be playing in them at the other end of the table the pressure brings great atmosphere and hopefully we can enjoy that and thrive upon it.
“The support has been absolutely terrific in recent weeks and you saw that with the game last week. We also took 950 to Perth and that kind of backing can make a real difference.”
Thistle have conceded first in each of their post split games and, while they have come back in each, it isn’t something Archie wants to go through for a third match in a row.
“We were delighted with the spirit we showed to get back in the last two games but we don’t want to make a habit of going a goal down – it gives you a mountain to climb. If you get the first goal and get on the front foot we can hopefully go and build on it and give the supporters something to sing about.”
Finally, the manager gave an update in terms of the fitness of his player, including Callum Booth who was forced off in the last match.
“It’s much the same as last week on the fitness front and we have pretty much a full squad to pick from. Callum Booth picked up a wee issue in his groin on Saturday but we’ll give him every chance to be involved on Friday night.”
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