Tenth plays seventh in tomorrow's Championship match at Firhill. Pre-season, few would have expected to find both sides in the lower half of the table in December, and certainly not Thistle in last place. All of Thistle's wins have been at home, while the Pars have a better away record than at home, which may suggest a draw is the most likely outcome tomorrow. A Dunfermline victory could put us within touching distance of the top 4, while a Thistle win could see them move off the bottom of the division.
Here is the current Championship table. Leaders Ayr United play Inverness this evening.
Last week's resounding 3-0 win at home to Morton was both welcome and almost essential in terms of our season. The confidence supplied by an early goal - the direct outcome of a willingness to shoot from distance - will hopefully follow the players to Glasgow, over 5 years since our last visit there. The team produced a very good first half performance last weekend, going into the break 2-0 ahead, and while the second period was less noteworthy, the Pars goal was rarely threatened and a third goal was added late on to round off an overdue home victory.
The club's directors have faith in Allan Johnston and while the dismal home form (pre-Morton) in particular has done little for the manager's popularity in the stands, ultimately his success is our success: I felt there was a need for a change last month but despite that, still hope that Johnston can be successful this season, as the club is far bigger and more important than any perception of the manager.
Team, formation etc
Due to 6 players being unavailable last weekend, the lack of options available to the manager ended up being a blessing in disguise. To his credit, he sensibly chose James Craigen in right midfield instead of Myles Hippolyte, and his lineup was a great balance of hard work and inventiveness. There is no need to contemplate any changes for tomorrow's game. Johnston rarely changes a winning team in any case. Most of the missing players from last week are still not ready for selection but I would retain the same 11 players regardless of that. It was encouraging to see Robbie Muirhead give a decent display on the left, plus the tenacious Joe Thomson was the driving force in midfield.
Relegated last season and in danger of enduring a repeat this term, Thistle have struggled from the outset of the League campaign. After sacking long-term boss Alan Archibald in October, new manager Gary Caldwell has had a dreadful start to his time in charge - just 1 point gathered from his first 6 games, scoring just 2 goals in those games.
Caldwell praised his team's performance in last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Queen of the South, finding positives to take from another loss: ''We are the only ones who can change it. You have to dig in and stay together. There are positives in how we're playing. We've lost and are frustrated. It's just not going for us. We are very close to getting it right and have to keep believing.
“The support I’ve felt from the board here and the honesty and openness of the whole football club has been refreshing and excites me for the future. We’re trying to implement certain things that we are changing within the football club, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
''Certain things we have changed are getting better, but the fans don’t see that. They see the result on a Saturday, and I understand their disappointment and their frustration. But it is coming.”