PARTICK THISTLE ace Chris Erskine has backed keeper Graeme Smith to bounce back from a debut to forget at New Douglas Park on Friday night.

The Jags goalie, who has been drafted in as cover for the injured Scott Fox, has been out of the game since leaving Azerbaijan this summer and looked significantly short of match sharpness against Hamilton.

Ali Crawford scored from a corner to give the hosts a surprise win, but it was initially suspected that Smith himself had fumbled the ball into his own net.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the ex-Motherwell man looked vulnerable given his lack of first-team football but Erskine believes he has the ability and the character to bounce back.

"He held his hands up and apologised but it is just one of those things," said Erskine. "We all make mistakes during games, but if you're a keeper then everybody notices it.

"We all know what he has done in the game and the amount of experience he has. These things happen in football, but the most important thing is how you recover from them and I'm sure Graeme will get his head down and get on with it.

"There certainly won't be any fingers pointed from anyone. He was a bit unlucky but I am sure the fitter he gets, the sharper he'll get."

Thistle are next on Irn-Bru First Division duty against Livingston on Saturday and Erskine believes that it is vital they take the positives out of Friday night's defeat.

He said: "I think we were a bit unfortunate, but I don't think we played too badly.

"We didn't start the game as well as we could have but we had a lot of the ball and a lot of chances and it just seemed to be one of those games when the ball just wouldn't go over the line.

"We felt we should have had a penalty too. I was right behind Kris Doolan and it looked to be that there was a clear push.

"He is a goalscorer; he wouldn't just go down in a situation like that when he had a clear chance to score. But we can't dwell on it. There will be clubs who will have taken heart at our defeat and it's important that we get it out of our system as quickly as we can."

The biggest beneficiaries of Thistle's poor result were Dunfermline, who levelled on points with the Jags while Morton were also able to close the gap on Jackie McNamara's side to just four points.

It will be a vital run of games in the lead up to Christmas with Livingston up this Saturday and Cowdenbeath the following week.

"It is important that we just try and kick on and keep confidence with the way that we have been playing for most of the season," said Erskine.

"It was a really disappointing result on Friday night and we are kicking ourselves a bit, but there is nothing we can do about it now.

"The main thing is that we go all out against Livingston and make sure we get the three points that would put us back on the right track again.

"It was frustrating things knowing that we could do nothing on Saturday when teams round us were playing and picking up points.

"This weekend's game can't come quick enough now."