It's all about fine margins in the Scottish Championship. James Penrice knows this all too well.

This weekend, his Partick Thistle side go up against Dundee United the league leaders who can boast a Scotland international in their ranks.

Lawrence Shankland has 22 goals in 27 appearances this season, including one in dark blue for his country against San Marino.

For Penrice, though, the Shankland goal he remembers most came at the end of October at Tannadice.

Thistle, despite being bottom of the table, had dominated possession and held their own in terms of opportunities created.

The only difference was Shankland's second-half header that sealed all three points for the hosts and meant another league defeat for Thistle.

Left-back Penrice is determined to stifle the striker this time.

"I don't think there are any teams in the league who are overly struggling," he said. "And we haven't struggled against Dundee United this season.

"I thought at home we deserved more from the game, away from home, as well, we were good.

"We gave [Shankland] one chance and, obviously, the finisher he is and with the reputation he has, he's scored.

"But that's what we'll try to do, try to limit their opportunities.

"We need to implement our game plan and make it hard for them, making sure they go away and think 'wow, they're some team'."

Thistle have improved in the league since that game, but they are still back in eighth, and with Morton level on points in ninth and having a game in hand, further development is required.

Home support is what the players need, according to Penrice.

"Recently the fans have driven us on and motivated us to make sure we haven't stopped until the final whistle," the 21-year-old said. "We've got some good late results and we need to continue showing the fans what we can do.

"You can sense these things in the stadium, it's like everywhere, if you start well the other teams' fans get on their backs.

"For that reason our fans are massive. We have a good fan base at Thistle who encourage you to get on the ball."

After last weekend's frustrating 1-1 draw away at Alloa, Penrice believes his team, with Ian McCall now in charge, are ready to turn a corner.

"It's been good this week. We worked hard Tuesday and Thursday with total focus on the game, which is a big game. It always is when it's the league favourites who have done well this season. It's our job to get the points on Saturday and I'm confident we can do that."

Three wins and a draw from their last five matches has given Thistle a boost and while there is still a long way to go to push up the table, Penrice hopes a win against the league's best will be the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes.

"The way we're playing now I think we've figured out the way we want to play, albeit there have been one or two bad results since the manager's come in," he said.

"You can't play brilliantly every week but we're at home this week and should be creative and think of our own game before looking at the opposition.

"That'll be massive for us. We know we're good enough to beat teams so if we go out and play well it'll bring with it confidence."