CONRAD BALATONI is determined to give Partick Thistle a helping hand in their battle to beat the drop after returning to action on Saturday.

The defender has been sidelined in recent weeks with a finger injury but reclaimed his place at the heart of the Jags' defence as Alan Archibald's side clinched a 2-1 win at Killie.

Goals from Kallum Higginbotham and Aaron Taylor- Sinclair earned a deserved three points for the visitors at Rugby Park to move Thistle out of the Premiership play-off zone.

And Balatoni was delighted to mark his return to action with a win as the Jags got their post-split fixture schedule off to the perfect start in Ayrshire.

"It has been a frustrating five weeks for me," he said.

"The gaffer gave me the nod to start and hopefully I repaid him with my performance.

"It was a massive win for us and we knew how important it would be to get the three points.

"I didn't know whether I would come back in or not.

"Even though I haven't been able to train for a few weeks, I have still been doing some running and keeping myself going.

"I am fit and feeling good and I wanted to be ready when called upon. The work that I did while I couldn't train paid off.

"I fell in training one day and hurt a couple of tendons in my pinky so I couldn't play in case I ruptured it.

"It was frustrating because I wanted to play but I was running after a few days out and I am delighted to be back in.

"I am still not fully right but I will battle through it and hopefully play my part over the next couple of games."

With another three points added to their tally this term, Thistle can now look forward to Friday's clash with St Mirren as they bid to take another huge step towards Premiership safety.

THERE are just three points between seventh-placed Hibernian and Ross County, who now occupy the play-off place in the top-flight standings.

Archibald's side have only a hat-trick of fixtures remaining this term and Balatoni is eager to end the campaign on a high and retain their top-flight status.

He said: "It was a huge win for us and it was so important to get off to a good start.

"With St Mirren winning on Saturday, teams could have started to drift away from us.

"We have played well against Kilmarnock this season and we were due that win.

"We took our chances when we had to and got what could be a really important win.

"If you were to ask anyone whether they would rather play good football or stay in the league, they would say stay in the top flight.

"We have shown that we can mix it up and play a different way after proving that we can play our game at this level.

"I thought Saturday was a good game, there was a good pace and tempo to it and both teams were trying to win it.

"It is up to us to take the confidence from the Kilmarnock game into Friday night.

"It is another huge one for us but we will apply the same attitude and commitment and hopefully get another three points to keep moving ourselves up the table."