CRAIG Slater is hoping to turn the tide of public opinion in favour of his manager Gary Caldwell by helping Partick Thistle to a crucial win over Falkirk at Firhill on Saturday.

Caldwell has come under fire from sections of the Thistle support after picking up just one win from his first 12 Championship matches since taking over from Alan Archibald in October.

The Jags boss has started to put his own stamp on his team with the arrival of four new faces already this month, and an impressive first-half display in particular against Dundee United on Saturday had him feeling his side should have garnered more than the point they did from the trip to Tannadice.

Slater is hoping though that Thistle can put it all together on Saturday, and pick up their first three points since beating Dunfermline in early December to relieve the pressure on his embattled manager.

“Obviously, when the club aren’t doing well then there’s no escaping the stick, and the players get it as well,” Slater said.

“It’s not easy, but you just have to be mentally strong and take it on the chin. We’re trying to build something here as a team and stick together.

“It would be great if we could start picking up wins. We need to be hard to beat first and foremost, get a run together and see where that takes us.

“At the end of the day, winning games is the only way to deflect that stick away.

“The fans have stuck with us all season, and if they can all turn up on Saturday and be positive then that would be ideal.

“I know that will be easier said than done with the way things have gone in the last wee while, but hopefully we can repay them for their support by putting a few wins together.”

Despite the creditable draw at Tannadice, Thistle slumped to the bottom of the table on Saturday evening as Falkirk leapfrogged the Jags with an unexpected win at high-flying Ayr United.

Slater says that has turned what was already a massive encounter with the Bairns this weekend into a cup final for Caldwell’s men.

“It’s not great to be bottom of the league, the club shouldn’t be in that position,” he said. “It’s up to us to turn that around, and we are the only ones that can.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, we just need to do the best we can, stay positive and get ourselves out of it.

“Saturday was frustrating. We took the lead and had a lot of chances to win the game, and when you don’t take your chances it can always come back to bite you. That was the case in the second half.

“It’s a start though, and it will only be a good point if we go on to beat Falkirk on Saturday.

“I don’t think we’re far away, but I’ve been saying that for a while now. We need to start turning performances into wins and getting points on the table is all that matters until we get away from this dogfight that we’re in.

“We need to stick together to pull through it and get results. It’s not nice, but the harsh reality is that it’s a massive time for the club and everyone has to stand up and be counted.”