ANY seasoned gambler would not see Partick Thistle as an attractive proposition today, given their recent record against Aberdeen and the fact that they are missing six players.
Unfortunately, seasoned strikers in the Scottish game feel the same way about the Maryhill club, who are trying to establish themselves at the top level again after an absence of nine years.
The Dons have found Partick Thistle to be their favourite opponents this season winning 3-0 at Firhill with a depleted side and then hammering the Jags 4-0 at Pittodrie. For today’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie, the hosts have Stuart Bannigan, Aaron Muirhead and Gary Fraser suspended, while Stephen O’Donnell, Sean Welsh and Jordan McMillan are out through injury.
If only Thistle manager Alan Archibald had a striker like Kris Boyd or John Sutton to call upon. Unfortunately, neither Boyd nor Sutton felt Firhill was the best place to play their football.
Archibald said: “We were interested, but were told they wouldn’t come. There were a few others too who didn’t want to come. Those guys had a choice to make. With Boydy it wasn’t about money, he wanted to just get back playing football, and it has paid off because he is right back in the Scotland squad.
“We knew established stars weren’t really going to come to us but we had to ask the question. I certainly hope we are more attractive now. Hopefully, the way we have played in the first quarter of the season maybe lets people know that we are not going to go straight back down. Players will maybe want to come now.”
In the here and now, Archibald has to rely on Kris Doolan to lead his front line but, even though Thistle have lost heavily twice to Aberdeen, the striker feels the freedom of a cup tie could provide a different outcome.
Doolan said: “It’s nice to have a break where we can focus on the cup this weekend. It would be nice to get that first home win. It’s a cup game, anything can happen and we have to treat it like that.
“Aberdeen are a good strong side and we know what to expect from them. The fact they’ve already beaten us twice could play on our minds but we’ve got to try not to let that happen.”
Doolan, below, gave up on the prospect of winning one national trophy when he joined Partick four years ago, but he is now using recent history – which has seen Dunfermline, Gretna, Queen of the South and Falkirk all reach the Scottish Cup final – as inspiration that he can still realise that dream.
He said: “The joy of the cup is to see a team pop up in the final that nobody expects. We’d love to be that team.
“I left Auchinleck n the January window when they won the Scottish Junior Cup in 2009.
“Obviously I tracked the run, I’m an Auchinleck boy and I was delighted when they won it, but I don’t look back with any regret.”