Friday 8th January, 2016 at 2:03pm
With the first outing in the Scottish Cup now just hours away, Alan Archibald was in an optimistic mood when he spoke to ptfc.co.uk at Thistle’s winter training base, Lesser Hampden, in the very shadow of Scotland’s national stadium.
“Saturday was a hard one to take but Friday night offers us a nice change of pace as we look to get this season’s Scottish Cup campaign off to a winning start. Our unbeaten run is gone now, and that is disappointing, but our momentum is definitely still there and it is important to keep that going.”
Thistle go into Friday night’s game as favourites – something few Thistle fans will be used to – and this is a factor that Archibald has not overlooked.
“We’ll be expected to take the game to them from the start and that’s certainly what we’ll be trying to do. Having said that us being the favourites will probably suit St Mirren in a way too. I think perhaps one of the reasons they have struggled this season is that they are going into every game as favourites so the weight of expectation is extremely high.
“They will feel like they have nothing to lose and that is always a dangerous situation for the opposition. They haven’t had the best form this season but they have some good, talented young players and there are boys who can hurt us there. We certainly won’t be going into the game with any level of complacency and will be treating it like any other game we might be playing in the Premiership.”
More than most, Archie realises just what a lift a good cup run can provide for a team having been a key component of the last significant cup adventure the Jags went on in 2002.
“Cup runs are massive for the club, both in terms of footballing success and financial security. We haven’t had much luck in the draws in recent years and have often had to play Premiership sides in the early rounds. With the greatest of respect to St Mirren, we have to make sure we take advantage of the fact we have been drawn against a team from a lower division.
“It has been a long, long time since we last had a decent run in one of the cups. I think the last one would be when I was playing and even that was about 15 years ago! You have to earn results in the cup and we need to do that this season, starting with a tough test on Friday.”
Finally, Alan gave us some insight into how his squad is looking ahead of Friday night’s game.
“We’ve got a couple of knocks following the Celtic game. Pogba is feeling his hamstring a bit and Dumbuya came off with his shoulder so we’ll need to wait and see on both of those but we’ll give them every chance we can. Gary Fraser is also struggling with his ankle but, again, we’ll give him every chance. Ryan Edwards is now away with the Australia under 23 side and could be out there until the end of the month and obviously Robbie Muirhead has returned to Dundee United and Ryan Stevenson is away on loan with Ayr.
“Christie Elliott won’t be fit in time for Friday but it was great to see him get 45 minutes under his belt in our Development League game on Tuesday night. If we can get him back fit for the end of January it will be like a new signing for us.”