IAN McCALL is looking forward to a rare day off this Saturday – and is hoping that come the end of the day, his Partick Thistle side will remain just a single point off Falkirk at the summit of League One.

The Jags have been in imperious form since the lower leagues got the green light to restart last month and remain unbeaten in the league, while McCall’s previously goal-shy attack has rediscovered their scoring touch in front of goal.

Thistle moved to within a point of the Bairns, having played an extra game, following the commanding win and with Falkirk set to play Cove Rangers at the weekend while Thistle rest, the race for the title looks set to go down to the wire.

This free-flowing, attacking football was on display on Thursday night when the men from Maryhill put five past play-off hopefuls Montrose at Firhill, with Zak Rudden (two), Stuart Banngian, Scott Tiffoney and Shea Gordon all getting on the scoresheet in the 5-0 demolition job.

After a first half of the campaign where goals were hard to come by, the handbrake is well and truly off. Thistle have scored 10 goals in their last three outings in the league – all without conceding a single goal at the other end – but when that particular statistic was put to McCall, he argued that his team’s goalscoring from is perhaps even more impressive than that.

He said: “If you take the second half of the East Fife game [where Thistle came from behind to claim a 2-2 draw] it’s three-and-a-half games with 12 goals and none conceded, so…

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“We’re unbeaten in the league since the restart but it was good tonight – very good. There were a lot of really pleasing individual performances but the team was the most important thing.

“It was 16 months ago that I brought Zak Rudden and Brian Graham here to play together – that’s only the second time they’ve done it.

“I’ve got to single out [Richard] Foster and [Steven] Bell, though. They were absolutely magnificent. For guys of that age – what an example to young players. How to keep their physique and look after their bodies, things like that.

“It was a big result for us and now we can sit back on Saturday and see what transpires in the other games.”

Despite the Jags’ surge up the table in recent weeks, McCall insists that he and his players must focus purely on what they can achieve, rather than relying on their title rivals to drop points elsewhere.

“We can only think of ourselves,” he continued. “We’re winning games just now but we can’t help but think about what might have been with those penalties we missed [earlier in the season] – three bloody penalties we missed and if we hadn’t, we would be five points clear.

“But we’re on a good run and the confidence is there – we’re playing a lot of good stuff. Listen, it was a good result for us, and the five goals and the clean sheet are great.”

The dismantling of Montrose was arguably Thistle’s best performance this season; indeed, it’s been years since the Jags have put five past a league opponent.

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But while the attacking verve on show understandably delighted McCall, the 56-year-old insists that two of his golden oldies at the back deserve a huge amount of credit for their performances.

He said: “At my previous club [Ayr] that was one of the things I was keen on. Some of the older boys I had there were outstanding – Bell was one of them, actually. But Foster has been a breath of fresh air. He’s always trying to help the younger players.

“I think in a dressing room your older, more experienced players need to be the right type because that’s how the younger ones learn. And I hope they do learn.

“There’s a real togetherness about the squad just now – you saw the reaction to Zak’s two goals the other night, how much we celebrate. Even guys from the bench. Your experienced players are very, very important and they’ve got to be the right type of players. Foster and Bell certainly are.”

There are two players in particular that have been at the forefront of Thistle’s attacking renaissance in recent weeks; Tiffoney, who has been in remarkable form since pitching up in Maryhill a month ago, and Rudden, who has scored four goals in his last two games after waiting 16 months to notch his first league goal in red-and-yellow.

“I think Tiffoney has made a big difference for us,” McCall explained. “Before the second lockdown we didn’t score a lot of goals but we were missing some unbelievable chances. Before lockdown, we were decimated with injuries – you’re talking 10 or 11 out at a time – and we’re reasonably okay just now. Long may that continue.

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“I’ve always had faith in Zak; I see it every day in training. I’ve said all along to everyone that asks me that he just needs a bit of luck and to stay injury-free. He’s a real player in my opinion, there’s no doubt about that.

“I think pre-lockdown there were a lot of good performances that we didn’t turn into wins. The difference now is we’re putting the ball in the back of the net when we get chances. Confidence is a huge part of football and we’ve got a lot of players with a lot of confidence just now. I’d say that we’ve picked it up at just the right time.”