You don’t have to tell Alan Archibald how long overdue it is for Partick Thistle to have reached a semi-final of a major cup competition, because the last one was so long ago he played in it.

It was back in 2002 that Thistle last graced the Hampden Park stage, bowing out by three goals to nil in front of 12,000 Jags fans in the Scottish Cup semi-final.

The opponents that day were Rangers, and it is the Ibrox side who Archibald’s men must overcome tonight at Firhill to reach the penultimate stage of this season’s Betfred Cup.

A showpiece occasion such as that is the only thing that has been missing for Archibald in these last few years as Thistle gaffer, and he was encouraged by Friday night’s draw against the same opposition to think his players can earn their day out at the national stadium.

“It would be huge for us to reach a semi-final,” Archibald said.

“I played in the last semi-final Partick Thistle were in so that tells you how long it’s been.

“We were close last year, only to lose 1-0 to Aberdeen [in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals]. We want to go one better.

“Hopefully our home fans can help us with that. We got a good turn-out the other night and the players really appreciated it.

“All good players want to play in the big games and we’ve got a number of options. Whatever we do, we’ve got guys who can hurt Rangers.

“I think it’s obvious that the cup runs are the one thing that’s been missing from what we’ve done.We just need to get across the line and get to a semi-final.

“There were plenty of positives from Friday night," he added. "We know it won’t be the same type of game. In the first half we were very loose in possession of the ball and we’ve been over that with the players.

“It gives us good heart going into the game. We’re at home, it’s a chance to get into a semi-final and we’ve stressed that to the players.”

Archibald feels that Thistle may well have held on for the win over Rangers on Friday night had attacker Chris Erskine not been sent off, and the double whammy for the Jags of course is that he will now sit out of tonight’s match too.

But Archibald is pleased by the strength in depth he has at his disposal, and has faith that whoever comes in will be able to step up to the plate.

“We’ve a couple of enforced changes,” he said. “Miles Storey is cup-tied, having played for Aberdeen, and Chris is a loss. He gives us something different.

“He didn’t keep the ball as well as we would have liked [on Friday] but not many people would have got on the end of the cross like he did. He gambled to get on the other side of the cross.

“But we had a strong bench the other night with people like Kris Doolan, Steven Lawless and Conor Sammon, who can come on and change a game.”

And with man of the moment Blair Spittal bang in form, Archibald knows he has the weapons to hurt Rangers.

“It was strange for Blair because he was having a stinker up until he produced the goods,” he said. “He produced two massive moments with his goal and assist.

“He’s been brilliant for us. We missed him at the start of the season.

“We’ve not had a set-piece taker. He’s given us that and we’ll give him the belief to go out and produce like that. We had a laugh about some of the mistakes he made, because he gave the ball away in some crucial areas, but as long as he keeps doing what he did in the final third he’ll get his rewards.”