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Ross County 1 Partick Thistle 1: Survival instincts kick in for a fright to the finish

WHATEVER else remains in store in this season's inaugural Scottish Premier-ship campaign, it is unlikely to be dull.

The long-awaited arrival of the play-off format ensures that.

With five matches remaining before the split, four teams are separated by a single point, with doomed Hearts a long distance below. Even seventh-top Hibernian are imperilled, as the Partick Thistle and Ross County managers both reminded us.

Alan Archibald admitted to disappointment at his team's sub-standard display while cherishing a valuable point gained, the fifth taken this season from their Dingwall hosts.

It proved a tense, scrappy affair at the Global Energy Stadium with early set-piece strikes from Kallum Higginbotham and Richard Brittain ensuring spoils were shared.

Prince Buaben missed a great opportunity for Thistle while substitute Melvin De Leeuw couldn't make a couple of late chances count.

For Archibald, it is shaping up as a fight to the final day to escape the play-off position. "It definitely is a dogfight. It all goes right into the split now. The points you get from the teams around you will be vital," Archibald said.

"It could quite possibly go to the last game, although it is hard to predict. We have Hibs next and, hopefully, if we can win that, we can drag them into it as well."

Scott Boyd and Stuart Kettlewell earned Ross County recalls on the back of the hosts' hefty midweek derby defeat.

It was their first appearance since County shared six goals with Partick at Firhill back in January.

For the Jags, Lyle Taylor headed wide early on from a deflected Higginbotham free kick before the latter struck the opener from a second dead-ball opportunity.

Boyd gave away a free-kick against Taylor just outside the box. County's wall was present and correct but jumped over midfielder Higginbotham's powerful, low strike allowing it to hit the net. Mark Brown, with no chance in goal, was furious with his wall.

The Dingwall team's reply was delivered just five minutes later. A furrowing run by Filip Kiss was halted outside the box by a Lee Mair foul.

Richard Brittain, so deadly in these situations, curved a 25-yard free-kick around the wall, leaving keeper Paul Gallacher in no man's land.

It was Brittain's sixth goal of the season and County, for a spell, looked set to build on it. But Thistle regained the momentum, a Buaben shot on the edge of the box rising a foot over the bar.

Dutchman Melvin De Leeuw entered the fray for Jordan Slew at the break, but it was the visitors who continued to exert most of the pressure. Despite that, no more goals emerged, leaving neither side with supremacy and everything to fight for in the relegation scrap.

Home manager Derek Adams felt County had deserved full points. "We had two very good chances and should have won the game on chances created.

"Their goalkeeper was excellent for them, while Mark Brown didn't have a save to make.It's important you win games, but we've actually done better against the top six sides this season and that's the games we go into now."

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