Battle-hardened Jags prepared to go over top in war of attrition

ALAN ARCHIBALD hopes the experience of winning the First Division last season will give Partick Thistle a mental edge in the battle to beat the drop this term.

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Alan Archibald's squad rose to the challenge of the First Division title race last season
Alan Archibald's squad rose to the challenge of the First Division title race last season

The Jags boss took his side on a remarkable run of results following the departure of manager Jackie McNamara in February that culminated in a memorable title success.

The only negative in the second half of the season was their Ramsdens Cup final defeat to Queen of the South as the Firhill side finished the campaign in flying form to clinch a top flight return after a nine-year wait.

Thistle head to St Johnstone tomorrow aiming to give their hopes of Premiership survival a major boost.

And Archibald is confident his stars have the mental strength to succeed this term.

"It [having the experience of winning the title] will help us cope with the pressure," he said.

"Last year we had to go win every game and the young squad held their nerve so hopefully it will do them good.

"You just learn with the experiences you go through and they will learn from losing the Ramsdens Cup and bouncing back to beat Morton on the Tuesday night which nobody thought they would do.

"Then we just churned out result after result after that so you just learn from it."

He went on: "I don't think it's an achievement (to keep morale high) - it is just a belief we have got in our ability.

"We have only had a couple of drubbings - Motherwell and Celtic - so that is why the confidence has stayed so high."

Thistle head to McDiarmid Park tomorrow having suffered back-to-back defeats against Inverness Caley Thistle and Celtic in the last few days.

Defensive duo Aaron Muirhead and Conrad Balatoni will miss the trip to Perth through injury while Lee Mair is only rated as 50-50 and Kallum Higginbotham is suspended.

Thistle only have two games left before the top-flight split, with a clash against bottom-of-the-table Hearts on the horizon.

Just three points separate eighth-placed Kilmarnock and St Mirren in 11th ahead of the final five-game shoot-out and boss Archibald reckons it will prove an exciting climax to the campaign.

He said: "I think just now with the play-offs it is entertaining. They are fighting it out for something at the top end, we are the bottom end and you want to avoid the First Division.

"As much as it is not great for the nerves as a manager and stress levels it is definitely great for the press, for the fans, the neutrals and everybody looking in."

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