Partick V St Johnstone at Firhill Stadium : Match Preview

13 December 2013 04:01
Partick V St Johnstone - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Craigen: We will use experience

James Craigen insists Partick Thistle will use their title-winning attributes to get them away from the wrong end of the Scottish Premiership.

After gaining promotion to the top-flight last year as First Division champions, the Jags have had a difficult time this season and find themselves in ninth place, just three points ahead of Ross County who are in the relegation play-off place but with a game in hand.

Despite a positive performance against Hibernian at Easter Road last week, the loss of a last-gasp equaliser in the 1-1 draw left Alan Archibald's side without a victory in six games ahead of the visit of St Johnstone on Saturday, where the Maryhill men will be looking to win for the first time in the league at home.

Craigen believes the mental strength shown in getting back among the big boys will prevent them remaining too close to bottom of the table for much longer.

"Our aim was to stay in the Premiership and that remains," said the 22-year-old Englishman.

"It is only natural to look at the table after losing a couple of games and you see teams getting tighter to you.

"But we will focus on ourselves like we did last season in the run-in.

"We focused on ourselves and we believed that we were as good as any team in the league.

"We have only been well beaten by a couple of teams this season but everyone is much of a much, especially in the bottom six.

"And we can take heart from last week. We were within a few seconds of taking three points.

"So we will prepare as we have been doing and hopefully the three points will come."

Craigen admits that more help needs to be given to top scorer Kris Doolan, who has scored five of Thistle's last six goals.

"We have relied on Kris a lot this season," he said.

"But we need to start spreading the goals around.

"It has to be the other players in the attacking positions and that is what we need to do because we can't just rely on him to score the goals.

"The support to him has been okay, we just have not been clinical in taking our chances and we have been unlucky.

"There have been times when we had the ball blocked on the line and they have come down the other end and we have conceded.

"But we do need to chip in with more goals."

Bannigan and Conrad Balatoni return from suspension.

Gary Fraser remains banned while Stephen O'Donnell (hip) and Sean Welsh (groin) are out.

Kallum Higginbotham (ankle ligaments) and Steven Lawless (hip) are both doubts.

St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright is looking for improvement as his side bid to consolidate their Scottish Premiership top-six position when they face Partick Thistle.

Saints have lost their last two league games, a 1-0 loss against Inverness and then a rare home defeat against Aberdeen.

And they travel to Firhill looking to double their tally of away wins for the season.

Wright, whose side sit sixth in the table, said: "I think the last two league games we probably haven't played as well as we can.

"We probably haven't done enough to deserve to win the games against Inverness and Aberdeen, but I also think we didn't do that badly that we deserved to lose them.

"We have made mistakes at key times in the games, particularly at Inverness going behind early, it was a poor goal to concede from our point of view.

"Aberdeen, even though it was a great strike from Peter Pawlett, we have got to look at how we could have done better and we gifted them the first goal by giving away possession so cheaply.

"With a bit more concentration and better play, we could maybe have had two 0-0 draws against two very good sides."

Thistle have not won a Scottish Premiership game at home but they ended a five-match losing streak with a point at Hibernian last weekend and Wright knows they will pose a threat.

"They have done really well," the former Northern Ireland goalkeeper said. "They haven't surprised me because I watched them a lot last year and they have some very good players and play a good style of football.

"Their home record probably isn't what they would want it to be, but we can't look at that, it's a totally new game and we have got to make sure we start improving our away record.

"We have got to be better on the road. For some reason we haven't been too good, our set-up is not much different from what we have at home. That's one aspect that we are hoping to improve."

Recent signing Lee Croft could come into the St Johnstone squad after playing 90 minutes for the under-20s in midweek.

Steven Anderson also played a full game but is not ready to return from a dislocated thumb and Brian Easton could miss out again with a calf strain.

Steven MacLean remains on the sidelines with a knee injury and fellow striker Rory Fallon is suspended following his red card against Aberdeen.

Source: PA

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England 1 0 0 1 3
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Last updated : 08:57