A WEEK of Partick Thistle mayhem off the pitch ended with the Jags picking up an important three points on it.

Thistle shrugged off any discontent over Ian McCall’s surprise dismissal to hold on after Danny Mullen had given them the lead at Ayr United despite a second-half onslaught.

A flurry of chances came and went for Lee Bullen’s title chasers - with Jamie Sneddon saving well from Dipo Akinyemi - but it was Kris Doolan who could toast a 100 per cent record in the dugout on Saturday night. 

The win keeps Thistle within touching distance of the play-offs, but, on a weekend in which Dundee and Queen’s Park failed to take all three points, could prove more damaging to Ayr’s promotion hopes. 

1) Maybe the Thistle board made the right call 

Glasgow Times: Ian McCall, right, was dismissed by Thistle on Sunday Ian McCall, right, was dismissed by Thistle on Sunday

In the wake of Ian McCall’s dismissal - just hours after Thistle had all but matched Rangers at Ibrox - the Firhill faithful looked desperately for answers. Surely, they asked, there must have been more behind the timing of the decision? Speculation mounted; amateur sleuths put forward theories; and fans got into it online. 

Then from the bowels of Firhill emerged a club statement. McCall had been sacked because the Thistle board believed it was the best way to prepare for Saturday’s match away to Ayr United (although whether or not that’s really the reason depends on who you ask). 

That raised many an eyebrow, but credit where it is due. It turns out, putting a man in the dugout with no senior coaching experience might just have been the best way to prepare. 

From the first minute, they were on it, the players seemingly having put the events of the week to one side. Were it not for Charlie Albinson’s sharp block, Steven Lawless could so easily have opened the scoring within the first few minutes. 

There was an impressiveness to the way the Glasgow side moved the ball, too, as Scott Tiffoney and Kyle Turner appeared buoyed by the Ibrox showing. At the other end, Aaron Muirhead impressively marshalled Dipo Akinyemi, while Ross Docherty and Stuart Bannigan simply had too much in midfield.

 Glasgow Times: Kris Doolan, pictured during his playing days, remains much-loved by the Thistle faithfulKris Doolan, pictured during his playing days, remains much-loved by the Thistle faithful

An early injury to Anton Dowds - who had replaced Brian Graham in attack and looked sharp - could so easily have derailed the Thistle train, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. His replacement, Danny Mullen, made the most of Ayr’s hesitancy and - had Turner shown more composure - no one could have begrudged them a healthy half-time lead. 

In the end, they had to dig in for much of the second period, but they did so ruggedly. 

2) Ayr’s magic has worn off at the worst possible time

Glasgow Times: Lee Bullen's men continued their stumbling formLee Bullen's men continued their stumbling form (Image: SNS)

In a league in which no one wants to win it, Ayr’s recent struggles have gone a little under the radar. But since the start of December they’ve won just once against a team you’d consider a play-off rival and that was Raith Rovers all the way back on December 3. The hindsight of mid-February would suggest that victories against Cove Rangers and Hamilton appear to have just papered over the cracks in a spell that will be cause for concern at Somerset Park. 

Rather than make the most of Dundee and Queen’s Park’s own patchy form (evidenced again on Friday), they’ve lost to both of them, barely squeezed past League Two Elgin in the cup, and now suffered defeat at the hands of Thistle - twice. 

Would it be too simple to point out this run has coincided with the goals drying up for Dipo Akinyemi? Perhaps, and that could just be a red herring, but it’s the most obvious change between the halcyon form of autumn and now. 

There was very little fluidity to their play again on Saturday, even if the second-half had a lot more urgency. The midfield of Ben Dempsey and Paul Smith was too easily outwitted by Brannigan and Docherty, allowing Lawless, Turner and Tiffoney the freedom of Ayrshire. Gallingly for Ayr, this also restricted Jaydon Mitchell-Lawson - so often an attacking spark - to little more than a defensive shift. 

Glasgow Times: Dipo AkinyemiDipo Akinyemi

By virtue of results elsewhere, Lee Bullen’s men still have a hold of Dundee and Queen’s Park’s coattails - but the grip is loosening. 

3) Is the mood music shifting in Ayrshire? 

“This is embarrassing.” “Get some subs on.” “What the f*** is this?” 

Just some of the shouts that rained down around the press box on Saturday as Ayr United struggled to find any real rhythm. One fan - of an age that he might well remember their last second tier title win in 1965 - was even asked if he had brought his boots in the wake of a particularly uninspiring few minutes of play. 

This has undoubtedly been a great season for Ayr United, and there’s every chance they could be playing Premiership football next season. But the moans, the shouts, and the groans told the story of a support worried the season could also fizzle out into mid table obscurity. 

That would objectively be a major improvement on last season’s showing, but football can often be all about perspective.