There is bit of a buzz around Maryhill at the moment, and Kyle Turner is determined to keep the feel-good factor going by sealing Partick Thistle’s promotion to the cinch Premiership.
It has been five years since the Jags last kicked a ball in Scotland’s top tier but Kris Doolan’s side are now just 90 minutes away from confirming their return to the big time.
Thursday evening’s 2-0 victory over Ross County – the team’s fifth on the bounce – provides Thistle with a healthy lead to defend ahead of tomorrow’s return leg in Dingwall, and supporters are salivating at the prospect of making it all the way through the play-offs despite the Jags’ fourth-place finish in the league.
Turner and his team-mates travel to the Highlands with the momentum firmly behind them and the playmaker is confident that the Firhill outfit will get their promotion bid over the line.
“We sense that there is something special building here,” said Turner. “Since the gaffer has come in we have a siege mentality and we keep going to see what happens.
“In five games we have scored 18 goals and conceded three, so the gaffer has installed a belief in us. He wants us to be free and go and play our own game and it has worked so far.
“It would be massive to get Partick back to the Premiership. We were disappointed this season and we should have been challenging [for the title] in the final games but we slipped up a few times and we weren’t happy with that.
“We finished fourth and we had to play six games in the play-offs. We felt the worst we should have finished was second. When we got past Queens Park, then the belief started to grow and we want to put it right.”
Turner – and indeed, the entire team – have flourished in recent weeks as the midfielder has found himself in a slightly deeper role, allowing Doolan to shoehorn four attackers into his starting line-up.
Scott Tiffoney, Stevie Lawless and Brian Graham have been mainstays in the starting XI all season long but with Turner partnering Ross Docherty in the middle, a space has opened up for Aiden Fitzpatrick.
The winger has seized his opportunity with gusto, slaloming his way past two defenders and curling the ball into the bottom corner to open the scoring in the first leg, and Turner feels that Thistle’s attack is particularly potent since the 22-year-old forced himself back into contention.
“With Aidan Fitzpatrick coming into the team, he has so much pace and it suits us,” he explained. “Going away from home we are scoring a lot of goals.
“With Fitzy and Tiff in the team, they have so much pace. Stevie Lawless has the brains and experience, as does big Brian Graham. As a team it just seems to work for us.
“This is a massive game and these experienced boys will be really important. There are a lot of older heads and then a few younger ones.
“These boys have seen it all and they have spoken to us and guided us through it. They will be important in this game but we have to try to play similar to how we did on Thursday and then we will give ourselves a chance.”
Jordan White, meanwhile, is not giving up hope of County retaining their Premiership status for another year just yet. The striker knows that Malky Mackay’s side have it all to do at the Global Energy Stadium, but he only has to cast his mind back a week or two to recall that he and his team-mates are capable of overhauling a two-goal deficit.
“I don’t think I would have taken 2-0 at any time but under the circumstances I think we have done well to come out the way we have,” he said, referring to Dylan Smith’s 17th-minute dismissal at Firhill. “The first half isn’t how we wanted it to go but we have a game to put it right now.
“We have to believe we can turn it around. We have belief in the group and there’s no point turning up thinking you can’t do it as you are onto a loser then. It is only half-time in the tie.
“We came back from 2-0 down to draw 3-3 the other week so it can be done. Other than the Kilmarnock game [that County lost 3-1], I think we have performed pretty well since the split.
“It all comes down to Sunday now and we have to look after ourselves and put in a performance. We have to put our bodies on the line as we have 90 minutes left to save our season.
“No one in the dressing room wants a relegation on their CV. Partick have had a good night on Thursday but we have to take our medicine and move on.”