This is an extract from the One Team in Glasgow Partick Thistle newsletter sent out every Wednesday.

JANUARY 6, 2024. Partick Thistle had just stuck four goals past Derek Gaston in the Arbroath goal to record a convincing victory over the Red Lichties to move within six points of title favourites Dundee United whilst simultaneously extending their play-off spot cushion to 10 points.

Now, two months on from the 4-0 drubbing of the Gayfield side, the Jags’ season seems to have hit somewhat of a lull. The Maryhill outfit have now gone eight league games without tasting victory - a run which has seen Thistle fall 18 points behind the league leaders and out of the title race as well as allowing the pack of play-off hopefuls to draw the jags to within touching distance.

Finding the back of the net hasn’t been a cause for concern for Kris Doolan’s men as only Dundee United pip them in terms of goals scored. It is, however, the frequency of goals conceded that has plagued Thistle’s season.

The Jags had been conceding goals at an alarming rate having shipped 13 goals in their four February outings. Needing to score three goals to leave with a point was wholly unsustainable and something had to give.

The previous league encounters with Dundee United this term have been one-sided to say the least. Jim Goodwin’s side were harder, faster and stronger than their Thistle counterparts as they ran over them in both the 5-0 demolition at Firhill last year as well as the 3-0 procession at Tannadice during the festive period. Doolan would look to counteract this by adding a bit of bite to his XI.

Despite being hamstrung by the injury to January addition Dan O’Reilly and the failure to fill either of the domestic loan spots freed up by the departures of Ben Williamson and Nathan McGinley, a tactical tweak saw the Jags bulk up the backline with Wasiri Williams regaining his place in the team which allowed Lewis Neilson to move forward and join the towering Luke McBeth in the middle of the park in an attempt match opponents for physicality.

The changes to personnel were vindicated as the Terrors were held to a 1-1 draw at Firhill as the gargantuan duo of Kevin Holt and Declan Gallagher - who so often stroll through games at this level - struggled to cope with Thistle’s newly found height advantage at set-plays.

Gaffer Doolan opted to maintain the physical approach for the trip to Hampden to face Queen’s Park in a game which highlighted the need for squad rotation. Despite plugging holes in the leaky defence against the Tangerines, Thistle’s soft touch reared its ugly head once again and the Jags found themselves with it all to do as they trailed 2-0 moments after half-time. With a roll of the dice, the Jags reverted back to basics as they went two up top in hope of salvaging something from the game. And salvage they did, as both strikers Tomi Adeloye and Brian Graham got their names on the scoresheet to leave the national stadium with a point.

Despite having to settle for a draw on both occasions, the decision to match United in a physical battle worked a treat whereas the game against the spiders only sprung into life when the Jags returned to a more natural shape. The stylistic change may not be a permanent one as it seemed to hinder the attacking prowess of Thistle’s wide players but it will no doubt give the management team some food for thought as the ability to adapt on a game-to-game basis may prove vital as we head into the business end of the season.

With the Jags in danger of sleepwalking their way out of the promotion play-off places attentions turned to Tuesday night’s televised tie against title challengers Raith Rovers with Thistle in dire need of three points.

A lacklustre performance saw the Jags go down to a first-half header from Euan Murray that ensured the Fifer’s maintained their grasp on United’s coat-tails. The defeat against the Rovers means that Thistle have now gone a barren eight league games without a win - the longest such run since the Jags went 11 winless under Ian McCall back in October 2020.

Without doubt the toughest period Doolan has had to endure in his burgeoning managerial career, the rookie boss finds himself under scrutiny, with sections of the Jags support now questioning whether the former number nine has the necessary credentials needed to take the club to the next step.

With Thistle’s season looking dead in the water, the Jags will welcome a Morton side riding the crest of a wave to Firhill this weekend, knowing that a win will move them level on points with the Magyars. In a results-driven business, nothing other than a win will do for Doolan at present and it is imperative that the club get their season back on track sooner rather than later.