IT is possible to count on the fingers of one hand how many goals Lyle Taylor has scored since joining Partick Thistle in January.
His influence at Firhill was measured more accurately by the clenched fists of his team-mates last weekend as they celebrated a first home win in the SPFL Premiership, some six months after returning to the top flight. Taylor scored twice in that match as Aberdeen were left doubled over in the west end of Glasgow.
Thistle have come a long way since succumbing 3-0 to the same opposition at home in September. The Firhill side will now need to go further - 200 miles or so - to maintain that momentum away to Ross County this afternoon. That Thistle are required to travel so far just a week after settling belatedly at home might seem a little ironic, although the side will at least travel with a growing sense of confidence having ended a run of six matches without victory.
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Such belief has been inspired by Taylor, too. The striker was recruited from Sheffield United and arrived in a side blunted by top-flight defences. He has since started in the last nine matches and is Thistle's second-highest scorer this season, scoring just two goals fewer than Kris Doolan. The 23-year-old notched twice in only his third appearance in the Premiership, a draw with County.
"Lyle has got pace and he has got goals in him," said Stuart Bannigan, the Thistle midfielder. "He has certainly stepped up to the plate in the last couple of weeks. He has pace and power and he causes defences all sorts of problems.
"Aberdeen have a big, strong, experienced defence and he could have scored four or five [on Saturday]. He isolates himself and gets himself one-on-one with defenders a lot. His pace can take him away from most people."
Taylor would still become caught up in fractious comments made by Derek Adams in the teams' last meeting, with the County manager castigating his players for making the Thistle striker appear to be better than he was. "I saw that in the paper," added Bannigan, diplomatically. "It is between Lyle and Derek."
Adams' frustration may have been exacerbated too by a feeling of being jilted in January after he considered a move for the Taylor. The County manager would agree contracts with forwards Yoann Arquin and Jordan Slew during the transfer window but has acknowledged that Taylor was on his short list as well.
"Lyle Taylor is one I tried to sign in January," said Adams. "I am not surprised he has done well for Partick Thistle because he is one I looked closely at and felt he could do the same for us here."
The Dingwall side will not be short of players trying to impress this afternoon given that their last home match ended with a 3-0 defeat by Highland neighbours Inverness Caledonian Thistle. That defeat came on Tuesday night but the result would come to leave a lasting impression on Filip Kiss, the County midfielder whose family had travelled from Slovakia to visit him.
"I wasn't really in a good mood after the derby," said the on-loan Cardiff City midfielder. "That night I met some people after I went to a restaurant with my friends and family. They were Inverness fans so the words weren't very nice."