Friday 26th January, 2018 at 10:24am
After the winter break the games are now coming thick and fast for Jags boss, Alan Archibald, as his side prepare to face a St Johnstone side who are yet to play their first match of 2018.
Tuesday night saw Thistle take on Celtic at the Energy Check Stadium at Firhill and, despite a 2-1 defeat, Archie was keen to focus on the positives when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk after training today.
He said: “There were definitely positives to take from Tuesday night – especially from the first 45 minutes. I thought we were well in the game and managed to score first which is ever so important. I also thought we looked a threat every time we won the ball back high up the pitch. We also had the other positive of having three or four players back which made it feel like we had a handful of new signings.
“It was really disappointing not to take anything from the game on Tuesday to be honest. We don’t take enough from the games against the top four or five teams but at the same time we don’t often get turned over either. It’s usually the case of an odd goal costing us which puts more pressure on the games against teams around us in the table. It’s definitely something we’re looking to rectify as the season progresses.”
With Abdul Osman, Mustapha Dumbuya and James Penrice all completing 90 minutes on Tuesday and with Callum Booth having come through Saturday’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie with no issues, Archibald is delighted to have a selection headache to consider ahead of Saturday’s match.
“Getting those boys back makes such a difference. Our bench looked strong on Tuesday and it’s looking strong again for Saturday which we can only view as a positive really. We made a few changes for Tuesday to give the likes of Dumbuya and Penrice some game time and they all did ever so well and have given me a real headache for this week.
“I think we’ve been into double figures in terms of the number of matches where we haven’t been able to fill our bench this season. That comes down to the fact that we simply have not had the players. Getting boys like Callum Booth, Mustapha Dumbuya and Abdul Osman back make an absolutely huge difference. It gives us options and we can make changes with different players in different positions. It gives us a headache for Saturday, as I say, but it is a nice problem to have.”
A series of postponements means St Johnstone haven’t yet played their first game of the year but Archibald certainly won’t take anything for granted.
“It’s difficult to assess just where St Johnstone are as a team because they haven’t had a game since before the winter break. That definitely makes it tougher to judge how they’re going to play. The fact they’ve not had a game in so long means that they will be chomping at the bit to get going again but also, hopefully for us, it means there might be a little bit of rustiness there as well.
“St Johnstone are always a really tough opposition and if you look back over the recent results between us they are nearly always extremely close affairs with hardly anything in them. The pattern tends to be that the team who scores goals at the right time will go on to take the points and other than that there isn’t much difference. Hopefully this week it will be us that edge it.
“We’ve got pretty decent record up there and I hope that the players can take that as a positive going into the match on Saturday. Our away form has been really poor this year and it has let us down badly. We were up at McDiarmid Park and won earlier in the season but our league form away from home just has not been good enough. It will undoubtedly be a different match but hopefully the lads can look back on that experience of winning up there, take confidence from that fact and know that they can go and get a result.”
The next five fixtures see Thistle play teams around them in the table and could go a long way to defining the Jags’ season.
“It’s a huge period for us. We’ve got 15 games left now and we have to target each and every one of them to ensure we start climbing the table. Our aim is to get right back in amongst the pack and that can start this weekend when we get the chance to go within three points of St Johnstone which is a massive incentive.”
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