TAM O’WARE was a relieved man as he took the cathartic step of coasting through his first competitive game in nearly a year.

The centre back’s world came crashing down last August barely a couple of months after joining Thistle when he suffered a serious knee injury.

And as he battled through the mental and physical torture of rehab, Thistle very nearly tumbled down another division.

Now he’s back and he will be the rock upon which Gary Caldwell builds his team in the new campaign.

“The 24 hours before the game were a bit nerve-wracking so I’m just delighted to get my first competitive game under my belt,” said O’Ware.

“To get through it with no injuries was enjoyable.

“Mentally it has been really hard. I was at Morton for seven years so it was a new experience to come into another dressing room but I felt I was settling in when the injury happened.

“I felt I had been playing quite well too. I had never really been injured before and the Dundee United game was 30 seconds old when it happened.

“I have constantly looked back and wondered if I could have done something different but if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.

“I have had great people around me – family, friends, team-mates and staff - and I can’t thank them enough.

“It was frustrating because I hardly saw the rest of the players apart from a Saturday because I was doing my rehab so I felt out of things.

“The down days were horrendous. But guys like Blair Spittal. Craig Slater and Stuart Bannigan kept me upbeat.

“Banzo had been through it and in reality I should count myself lucky because my treatment was for six months.

“He was out for two and half years. How he has managed to come back and be a top player is crazy.”

It was O’Ware’s presence in the Airdrie box that led to Sean Crighton deflecting Joe Cardle’s corner into his own net for the game’s only goal in 66 minutes.

New signing Alex Jones watched on and he will make his debut tomorrow night against Queen’s Park.

Airdrie boss Ian Murray felt his side competed well. He said: “It’s the best we have passed it since I have been here and we showed great game awareness so there are many positives for me.”