Jags must exploit rivals' slip

PAUL PATON has admitted he thought Partick Thistle would lose their top spot in the Irn-Bru First Division after the big freeze put their title challenge on hold.

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But the Firhill star knows the pressure is now on Jackie McNamara's side to make the most of their advantage after their two main promotion rivals slipped up on Saturday.

The Jags' weekend clash with Cowdenbeath was postponed on Friday afternoon after sub-zero temperatures left the Central Park pitch unplayable, with the Fife fixture joining matches at Airdrie and Hamilton in falling victim to the wintery weather.

While Thistle were out of action, Dunfermline missed the chance to go top with a 2-1 loss at Livingston while Morton left it late to clinch a point in a 3-3 draw against Raith Rovers.

Should Cowdenbeath lose their Scottish Cup tie against St Johnstone this week, McNamara's side will head to Fife on February 2 and Paton is keen for the Jags to capitalise on their rivals' disappointments.

He said: "Apart from our game being off and us not being able to play, Saturday turned out to be a good day for us.

"In football, you have to look after yourself first and not worry about anyone else but when other results do go your way it is an added bonus.

"I did expect us to be second in the table after Saturday's games so to still be top is a great boost for the lads.

"We know that we have got a game in hand on our rivals now but that won't mean anything if we don't win it."

While Saturday's postponement was a frustration for everyone in the Firhill camp, it came as a bitter blow for Paton.

The midfielder hasn't played since being sent off against Hamilton Accies on November 16 and can't wait to return to action when the Jags face Raith this weekend.

He said: "I am itching to get back playing again so I was disappointed that the game was off on Saturday.

"I missed two games after being sent off against Hamilton so to then miss out on Saturday was really frustrating.

"By the time we get to the Raith game this weekend, that will be about a month since I last played.

"It is certainly not ideal and it is really frustrating because I was in good form, so to then be out for four weeks is a big blow personally.

"Fitness-wise, I think I could probably go straight back into the team. I will certainly be happy to play."

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