Partick Thistle are still searching for their first win of 2020 after coming up short against Allan Johnston’s Queen of the South on Tuesday night at Firhill.

The first half of the relegation six-pointer was exceedingly dull but the hosts grew into the game in the second, leaving a palpable sense of frustration from the stands that this was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained.

Here are five talking points from the goalless encounter in Maryhill.

3-5-2 the way to go?

Ian McCall said in his press conference on Monday that he was considering a change of system for this match and given Zak Rudden’s return to fitness, it was little surprise to see the Jags boss shuffle the pack on Tuesday.

Thistle were always going to be playing with Rudden and Brian Graham up front and whether or not they are able to form an effective partnership could well be the deciding factor in the Jags’ bid for survival this term. Both have experience of performing well at this level and should the pair flourish alongside each other, Thistle would boast a front pairing capable of causing problems for any side in the division.

Lewis Mayo slotted in alongside Tam O’Ware and Darren Brownlie at the back and put in a commanding and assured performance on his Thistle debut. A worthy recipient of the man of the match award, the on-loan Rangers centre-half was a calming influence in defence and looks like he will play a big role between now and the end of the season.

Glasgow Times:
Loan signings look off the pace

The same cannot be said of Thistle’s other two January loan signings. Jamie Barjonas, the central midfielder recruited from Ibrox, is yet to show what exactly he can bring to McCall’s side. All-too-safe with his passes when in possession and ineffective at winning it back, the 21-year-old has made very little impression in his handful of appearances for his new club so far.

At right-back, Lee O’Connor is in a similar predicament. The Irishman completed a move from Manchester United to Celtic last summer and was capped for his national side in November, leading Thistle supporters to believe they had completed a coup with his addition on loan. So far, at least, that faith appears misplaced.

O’Connor had not played a minute of men’s club football before sealing his loan switch from Celtic in January so a degree of mitigation is required here. But the inescapable fact of Thistle’s predicament is that the club are engulfed in yet another relegation scrap. McCall cannot afford for a player to spend weeks or months settling into a new team and an entirely different style of football. Ryan Williamson remains sidelined through injury and with no other real options, O’Connor’s position on the right of defence (either as a full-back or wing-back) looks secure for the time being. But he will need to up his game - and soon - if McCall’s side are to start climbing the table.

Penrice is not a midfielder

The natural left-back is a player who tends to split the Thistle fanbase. The youth academy graduate plays just about every game and while he has undoubtedly shown great potential, some supporters feel he could be offering more, particularly going forward and with his deliveries into the area.

One thing that is certain, though, is that the 21-year-old is not a midfielder. Penrice started on the left of a three-man midfield but struggled to exert his influence over proceedings. Due to his position, he often received the ball from the right and as a natural left-footer, his instinct is to open his body up and drift left.

Thistle have a real problem with incision at the moment and this is perhaps best typified by the dearth of creativity in midfield. By constantly moving further outfield and rarely driving inside, Penrice’s movements and passing became obvious to the opposition each time he got the ball and as a result, he was easily stifled. A return to form for Reece Cole would go a long way to solving this issue but, like many of his team-mates, the midfielder has gone off the boil since the turn of the year.

Glasgow Times:
Robson might have a future at Thistle after all

Tommy Robson hasn’t exactly had a great time of it at Firhill so far but the defender put in a highly encouraging showing against Queens.

The left-back’s performances in a Thistle jersey this season have been characterised by indecision and careless errors, but Robson was one of Thistle’s best players on Tuesday night. He ran with purpose and did his best to seize the initiative as he rampaged up the left and beat his opposite number repeatedly.

It was an impressive showing from a player who has often drawn the ire of the Thistle support. There have been occasions where Robson has had a torrid time of it this season but if he can replicate his performance against Queens, then he might well have a crucial role to play in the Championship run-in after all.

Marginal calls could come back to haunt Thistle

It is impossible to legislate for officiating errors but the Thistle players will surely feel hard done by after the stalemate with Queen of the South.

Rudden and Graham were both flagged for offside a few times in the first half when they were racing though on goal and those calls were marginal indeed, but these things never seem to go your way when you’re at the bottom.

The decision from referee David Lowe to rescind a penalty with 10 minutes to go could prove costly come the end of the season. Gary Oliver felled Dario Zanatta in the box and Lowe pointed to the spot but after a lengthy conversation with the linesman, changed his mind and instead awarded a free-kick to the visitors.

Zanatta was ruled to have been in an offside position when played through on goal but replays of the incident would suggest the linesman got this one wrong. These things happen - officials are only human, after all - and there is of course no guarantee that Thistle would have converted from the spot, but the call is still certain to leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the home support.