This weekend sees the penultimate game in the first half of the cinch Championship season, with Partick Thistle the visitors to Balmoral Stadium.
The Firhill side have just emerged from a run of six straight defeats, following a 3-0 win over Arbroath with another against Kelty in the Scottish Cup last week.
Their recent slump came as a surprise, given the campaign Thistle had put in prior to that, but central defender Mark Reynolds says he has paid no attention to that; it is the kind of division where it can happen to anyone:
“It’s going to be tough, it’s the same every week. Anyone who’s watched this league, who’s seen the results coming in, they’ll know you just can’t predict who’s going to beat who. Every team is capable of winning every match.”
“The only thing we can control is how we approach the match, and I think over the season, as we’ve got to grips with the league and the opposition, we’ve got stronger. I said at the start that this was a huge transition for us, going from League One; new manager, new set of players, new style of play, a lot of guys in on loan; it was always going to take us time.
“We can’t afford to get too hung up on the league position. We know where we are, we know what we have to do, and a few wins in a row can make a huge difference.”
The earlier meeting in September saw Ian McCall’s side race into a 2-0 lead, and they were still in command as the game moved into its final ten minutes. That was when Reynolds stepped-up to become our unlikely goal hero:
‘The first and only double of my career, so that was special, and it shows how competitive we can be. We made it difficult for ourselves at Firhill, but we never gave up, we got level, and we had a chance right at the end where we might even have won it.”
Jim McIntyre knows the danger Partick pose, and says his team will be ready for them:
“Thistle have had a bit of an indifferent time, but look to have come out of that, and they’ll be all out to build on the last couple of games.
“But we need to maximise our home advantage. We didn’t deserve to lose last time out against Morton, and only did so thanks to a terrible decision by the linesman for their opening goal. We’re getting close to the halfway mark of the league season, a couple of games to go, and we want to reach that with two positive results.”
The side have had to stage a number of comebacks across the campaign, and that’s a habit Mark hopes to avoid in the coming months:
“We seem to have been punished for the mistakes we have made, but at the other end of the pitch, it feels as if we have to work hard for every goal we score. If we can get that first goal in a game, it gives you so much confidence to kick on.
“I think we have looked tighter at the back, we’re restricting the opposition to fewer chances, and that’s something we have to continue. We’re still growing, we’re nowhere near the finished article, and we’re aware of that, but we have been getting better, and we go into every game thinking we can take the three points.”
After this one, there is only the trip to Dens Park before we reach the midway point in the Championship, but that is not a fact Reynolds is dwelling on:
“For me personally, it’s always just been about the ninety minutes. If you start setting targets, working out what points you need, you start tripping yourself up. I’ve been like that all through my career.
“The only time you look back at the season is at the end of it; that’s where you take stock and see where it went well for you, and where you can improve next time round. This week it’s Partick Thistle, we’ll look at that ninety minutes, then we’ll move on to the next one.
Other than on-loan central defender Kyle McClelland, who is nearing the end of his extended lay-off, and is expected to return to Cove after next weekend’s break, the manager will have a full squad to choose from.
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