Jackie shrugs off speed bump on title highway

JACKIE McNAMARA has been over the course and distance often enough to know that nothing is won in December.

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Steven Craig opened the scoring against Morton
Steven Craig opened the scoring against Morton

Which is why the Partick Thistle manager will not despair after seeing his side crash to a 2-1 defeat to title rivals Morton on Boxing Day.

The Firhill loss was the Jags' first home defeat of the Irn-Bru First Division campaign and their second of the season to Allan Moore's side, who are now level on points with McNamara's men at the top of the table.

It proved a frustrating afternoon for Thistle as they missed the chance to open up a six-point gap on the Ton and failed to capitalise on Dunfermline's slip-up at home to Falkirk.

Just two points separate the three promotion battlers going into the final round of fixtures of 2012 and McNamara knows there are likely to be plenty of shocks along the road to title glory.

He said: "There will be ups and downs along the season.

You can look at it as a positive that Dunfermline lost, but it is a disappointment for us that we couldn't extend the lead.

"We knew the Morton game would be a difficult fixture for us, but they play Dunfermline tomorrow, so something has to give there.

"We are only coming up to the halfway point of the season, there is a long, long way to go.

"Although we were disappointed with the result on Wednesday, the players give us their all every week and I know we can be a very good side.

"Things went against us against Morton, but we kept going and kept going.

"There is still plenty of football to be played. On another day, we would have scored a second goal. Morton have taken six points from us and in both games we have been down to ten men.

"On Wednesday, we lost a man and lost a goal and they were in the ascendancy, but I know what I have got in the dressing room and I am happy with them."

While Thistle's title rivals go head-to-head at Cappielow, the Jags make the trip to Lanarkshire to face relegation battlers Airdrie United.

The Jags were comprehensive 7-0 winners over the Diamonds earlier in the campaign and McNamara is confident his side can turn in another free flowing display as they look to bounce back from their Ton defeat at the first attempt.

He said: "We are on the Astroturf tomorrow and it is a difficult venue to go and get a result, but if we play and pass the ball like we want then we should do well.

"It is vitally important that we pass the ball well. If we can play like we did in the first half on Wednesday we should be fine.

"It might suit us better than a stodgy grass park, but the main thing is for us to go there and be positive and hopefully we can get the three points."

One man who is unlikely to be part of the Thistle squad for the Diamonds duel is Paul Slane.

The winger has made just four appearances since signing on loan from Celtic in October.

McNamara said: "Paul is here until January 6. We will see how he is fitness-wise and we will speak to Paul and Celtic and see what is happening with him. If he is fit, he is a real talent."

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