PARTICK Thistle were rooted to the bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership table as Christmas approached last season. But two wins in the space of a week, the first of which came against Ross County, catapulted them up to sixth, a place which they duly consolidated for their first ever top half finish in this current structure.

It is one step at a time at Thistle this season but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hopes of doing something similar after an underwhelming first half of this campaign. Not only did Saturday’s priceless 2-0 win against the Highlanders – their second home win in a row – give them a three-point cushion over County at the foot of the table as 2018 begins, it sent them off into the winter break with a smile on their face. They will get a week off before a week of warm weather training in Spain.

While Dundee, Hamilton and Motherwell look anxiously back over their shoulders, Thistle might not be able to summon up the same kind of January spend which Roy MacGregor is renowned for in Dingwall, but it will seem like an infusion of fresh blood just to welcome some of the club’s extended injury list back. An eight-match stint through December seemed hard enough without he likes of Christie Elliott, Stuart Bannigan, Abdul Osman and Callum Booth but some extra competition for places could be the fuel to propel Thistle up this table.

A new year is a time for new beginnings but Conor Sammon simply hopes to put roots down again. Given his chance on Saturday when Miles Storey succumbed to a hamstring injury, the big striker’s first act was to dump Andrew Davies unceremoniously on his backside at the advertising hoardings. But a whole-hearted display which saw him sweep in the clincher after Kris Doolan had pounced on a Davies error for the opening goal reminded exactly what the on-loan Hearts striker still has to offer. While he could still be more confident in front of goal - only goalkeeper Scott Fox prevented him ending up with a hat-trick – there were glimpses here of the player who had plundered 18 goals with Kilmarnock before winning a £600,000 January move to Wigan in January 2011.

“For the last two or three years I’ve been looking for that club that you can call home,” said Sammon. “I haven’t had that. I’ve been moving from place to place and you do get frustrated when you’re chopping and changing. But I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can do. It’s just about showing that on the pitch on a Saturday.

“I think the competition for places will help to push everyone on,” he added. “We’ve got a close knit group and it’s lovely to see the injured lads come back and get involved in training, it’s like new signings. The lads know what it takes to get out of relegation trouble. Every team are fighting for points so it’s up to us to keep going.

“I think this club have such loyalty and belief,” he said. “You need to know that people have confidence in your ability to do the job and that’s definitely the case here. It’s up to us now to take this feeling, bottle it up and take it to our trip to Spain, then come back refreshed and raring to go.”