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Match Reaction

Partick Thistle v Motherwell – 8th April 2017

With two games to go until the split, Partick Thistle had a great chance to confirm a top six finish at home to Motherwell. Kilmarnock were playing away at Celtic and only a win would keep their top six dreams alive, however, if Thistle could beat the Steelmen, Killie’s result wouldn’t matter and the Jags would be in the guaranteed a top six finish regardless. That is exactly what they did. An early Kris Doolan goal was enough to down the ‘Well in what was a tense encounter late on. So for the first time since the split was introduced, Partick Thistle are a top six side and Jags boss Alan Archibald spoke to after the game to speak about the great achievement.

Archie stressed the size of his side’s achievement, it being Thistle highest top flight finish for over 30 years.

“It’s up there with winning the old first division in 2013. We had been down there for so long so getting back into the Premiership was huge but this is as important as that. It’s great for the club and everyone associated with Thistle and it means we won’t be scraping for points trying to stay above the bottom sides when the split does kick in.”

The gaffer was pleased that even though Kilmarnock failed to win at Celtic Park, his side did the business and secured their fate themselves.

“We spoke about it before the game. We didn’t want to have to look to other results, waiting for other teams. I think it was a fitting way to do it as well with a clean sheet, a Doolan goal and a great save by Tomas Cerny. I was pleased for Tomas with his save as well because he took the Kilmarnock mistake to heart but he’s the ultimate professional and his save was outstanding.”

Archibald takes great pride in guiding Thistle into the top six as he knows, first hand, that things weren’t always so rosy at Firhill.

“I think when you’ve been through the bad times you appreciate it more. The club has been in a precarious position a few times in the past but it’s great to see that we’re thriving in the top flight. We won’t rest on our laurels but we can enjoy it for now and it’s great for the fans as they’ve been through some tough times.”

The Jags boss also wanted to thank the Thistle boardroom staff who have stuck by him even when results haven’t been going their way.

“The board have been fantastic. If there’s money there then they give us it to spend and they probably helped us turn it around as I think that apart from Celtic and Aberdeen, we were the only team to go away during the winter break and the board budgeted for that at the start of the season and that time away improved us tenfold.”

The Thistle manager also highlighted how important it is to be safely clear of the relegation dogfight.

“It’s awful to be down there for any season but especially this year when the bottom half is so tight. It’s great for the media, watching all the teams desperate for points and desperate to survive so it’s good not be involved in that this year.”

Archie also mentioned how a top six finish allows the club to start preparing for next season much earlier than they would if they were still fighting to ensure safety in the bottom half.

“We’ve already stated looking at pre-season and now we know the minimum amount of money that we have to work with and we can budget for next season as such. Obviously, it’s difficult to look towards the next season when you don’t even know for sure if you’ll be in the league. So thankfully, we won’t be running around trying to find places to be for pre-season as we have security in our league position and can plan ahead safe in the knowledge that we’ll be here in August no matter what.”

The boss was also appreciative of the Jags support, who gave him a standing ovation as the game drew to a close.

“The fans have been brilliant with me. They get frustrated like we all do but that’s the nature of football. They were singing for everyone and the players can feel that and it spurs them on. As I’ve said they’ve been through some tough times but hopefully they can enjoy what the team are doing at the moment.”

Thistle play their last game before the split next Saturday against Rangers at Ibrox. Kick-off is at 15:00.

A more in depth video interview with Alan Archibald is available now to Jagzone subscribers and will be followed by reaction from Chris Erskine and Steven Lawless. Log in now to see it as soon as it is available.

A full game replay and extended highlights will be added shortly, both will be free for Jagzone subscribers.

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