The Rangers semi final summed up our season – good at times but not quite solid enough to grind out results. Some of the football we play deserves to be in the top six but at other times the organisation of our defence and the simple mistakes we make would shame an amateur side.
The key to winning this game is to make sure we do not lose it. Thistle are not a good side. Thistle will make mistakes. If we can ensure that the ball spends more time near their goal than ours, even if that means abandoning our passing game, then so be it. Our record against other struggling teams is nothing short of abysmal and a change in tactics is overdue. There is little point in us running around trying to close down the Thistle midfield when they immediately launch the ball sixty yards to their strikers. The midfield will be better off sitting deeper to help collect second balls and any time we win possession, get it forward early to the feet of Clarkson, Faddy or Craig. Those three all have the skill to cause the Thistle defence problems but we need to get the ball up to them rather than mucking around with it in the middle of the park – because Thistle won’t give us time to play passes like Rangers or Hearts do.
Stephen Pearson will be missing, serving the last game in his ban, and Keith Lasley will join him in the stand. Everyone else should be fit apart from long term injuried, Kemas and Fagan. Quite who will replace Pearo is not known – Corrigan might move into the middle to provide another solid presence or Hammell could move forward if Butcher feels like making an attacking gamble.
Thistle should have a full squad from which to choose although it will be interesting to see if Scott Paterson, reportedly on his way to Dundee United, will play. Alex Burns and Jamie Mitchell will be the main threats for Thistle and Tony Vaughan will probably be called upon to out muscle Gerry Britton.
We haven’t beaten a fellow relegation contender yet this season…time for that to change, 2-1 ‘Well.