PARTICK Thistle are on the brink of being an SPL side again and a win over Raith Rovers tonight will see them crowned First Division champions – and end a nine-year top-flight absence that also included a one-year spell in the Second Division.
“I played in the SPL for Thistle before leaving for Dundee United in 2003,” said player/manager Alan Archibald. “I came back in 2007 when they were in the First Division and to lead them back to the top division would be terrific. It has been a long time since we were there.”
“I have only been in charge since Jackie McNamara left for Dundee United a couple of months ago and winning the First Division so soon into this job would be an amazing achievement. It would be one that I would be very proud of.”
Winning against the Fifers at Firhill would make capturing the title all the more special according to Archibald, who added: “To win this game and win the title in front of our fans would be a dream. It is a huge incentive especially as there is likely to be another big crowd here.”
Archibald also added a note of caution, pointing out: “We are not over the line yet. We have had close games with Raith Rovers all season.”
“We needed a late goal to get a draw in our first meeting, they were the better side a couple of weeks ago in a goalless draw and in the game we won 3-2 they hit the post twice. We need to play at a high standard to win.”
Aaron Muirhead serves the second game of his four match ban following his sending off in the Ramsdens Cup final for head-butting Queen of the South’s Chris Higgins.
Skipper Paul Paton remains out with a knee injury and Hugh Murray will be absent with a foot problem with Jordan McMillan unlikely to feature after a recent illness.
Raith Rovers travel to Firhill in the role of potential party poopers but will be without Pat Clarke who has a groin injury.
Elsewhere tonight, Falkirk return to action at home to Dumbarton just three days after their Hampden heart-break against Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi-final. The Bairns look set to be without Blair Alston and Connor McGrandles, who picked up knocks on Saturday, with Lewis Small remaining out with a shoulder injury. Dumbarton will look to move up to seventh, three points clear of Cowdenbeath and six clear of Dunfermline but they continue to be without the services of Paul McGinn and Nicky Phinn.
Livingston and Hamilton Accies meet at Almondvale just three days after a Stevie May hat-trick saw the Lanarkshire side win 3-0 at the same venue.
Craig Barr returns from suspension to bolster the home defence and Stefan Scougall could start if there has been no reaction to his substitute appearance on Saturday after injury. Burton O’Brien, Kyle Jacobs, Keaghan Jacobs and Marc McNulty all miss out through knocks.
Hamilton player/manager Alex Neil looks set to miss out due to a knee injury and Jonathan Page misses out after his late sending off at the weekend with Andy Ryan also missing through a suspension, however Mickey Devlin returns from a ban.