Alan aiming for perfect start in Jags' five-game relegation scrap

ALAN ARCHIBALD insists Partick Thistle won't take their eye off the ball and worry about the fortunes of their relegation rivals when the battle to beat the drop resumes this weekend.

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Alan Archibald's Jags side face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park at the weekend
Alan Archibald's Jags side face Kilmarnock at Rugby Park at the weekend

The Jags head into the SPFL Premiership post-split fixtures 11th in the standings as they bid to avoid the play-off place and an end-of-season shoot-out to maintain their top-flight status.

There is little to choose between the five teams involved in the relegation scrap, with Thistle travelling to Kilmarnock on Saturday aiming to get off to the perfect start in the five games that will determine their destiny.

The table is likely to fluctuate significantly in the coming weeks but Archibald won't avert his gaze elsewhere as he looks to mastermind Thistle's Premiership survival.

He said: "It will come down to these five games now and we know that there is so much at stake in every game. When we are playing, another team will be dropping points somewhere.

"It is like starting a season all over again but the difference is that we are a point behind the teams in our league now. We have to make that up and get ourselves out of the play-off position.

"We won't worry about how things are going elsewhere. We have to go into every game looking to win and then you can see where you are after it.

"We can beat the five teams in the bottom half of the league but they will all be saying the same thing.

"Everyone will be confident that they can pick up points so they will all go for it, I don't think you will see anyone settling for a point."

Victory at Rugby Park this weekend would be a timely boost for Thistle as they look to move off 11th spot at the first opportunity following defeat to Hearts last time out.

The Jags will host St Mirren and Ross County and travel to Hibernian and Hearts before the season comes to a close.

And Archibald knows his side will have to be up for the fight in what is likely to be a cut-throat culmination to the campaign.

He said: "The fixtures have come out much as we anticipated. We were due two at home and three away.

"It is a mixed bag in terms of how we have played against the five teams. The boys are confident and they know what is at stake.

"Even though we are a point behind, it is still in our own hands and we know what we have to do. It will come down to second balls and battling for everything we get.

"In the Ross County game a couple of weeks ago, there wasn't much football played and it was a bit of a battle, it was a tentative affair.

"The games will probably be much like that and it is about who comes out best on the day."

Thistle could, and should, have been heading into the final five fixtures in far better shape but fell apart against Hearts a fortnight ago as they crashed to a shock 4-2 loss.

That result, coupled with St Mirren's win over Motherwell, saw the Jags drop back down the table and Archibald is confident the Jambos is well out of their system.

He said: "We were in on Monday morning after the Hearts game and watched the video together and went through it. We have spoken about it and moved on.

"We didn't need to say too much to the boys, they know that they let themselves down.

"It was a really disappointing day for us. It was a chance to go into the split with a bit of momentum and by gaining points on the teams around us.

"County dropped points the night before and it was a chance for us to go into the last five games not in the play-off spot.

"That was the biggest frustration but we have to move on and look at Kilmarnock now."

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