PARTICK THISTLE manager Ian McCall is glad that his team won’t be coming up against Celtic in every game, and he has told his players they won’t be judged on the 5-0 defeat at Celtic Park last night.

McCall’s first game back in charge of Thistle ended in a convincing defeat, but he took heart from the way his men competed during the first half especially, and pinpointed some key incidents that took the match away from the Jags.

He is hoping now to be able to put his mark on the side as they look to open up in the Championship and start climbing the table.

“It was great for me being back in the Thistle colours but I’m glad I won’t be playing Celtic every week,” McCall said.

“The scoreline didn’t flatter Celtic but there were a couple of key moments in the first half. We had a good chance at 1-0 and then – and I haven’t seen it again yet – Thomas O’Ware looked onside when he put the ball in the net for what would have been 2-1.

“But when you come to Celtic Park and a player like Olivier Ntcham tries a shot from 30 yards you’ve got to hope that it goes over the bar – and then his other goal goes in off the inside of the post. They had all sorts of players coming in with a point to prove tonight.

“The good thing for us is that we didn’t pick up any injuries and I told our players that there were no negative judgements against them. We competed well for an hour and they gave everything.

“It’s not how we want to play either and it’s not how we’ll play in the Championship, but we made some substitutions with Saturday at Inverness in mind. We have something to work with to get up that league, though.”

One of the biggest disappointments for McCall on the night was the concession of Tom Rogic’s goal for Celtic just moments after the restart, effectively killing the tie at 2-0.

He said: “Part of my half-time team talk was not to lose a cheap goal – they had a couple of half-chances in the first half and scored with a free header from a set play – but I knew Neil would’ve been getting in about them at the break and they started well, although it was poor from us when they scored straight away.

“Then Ntcham scores two absolute belters and you’re chasing the game and just hoping that no-one gets hurt.”