CHRISTIE ELLIOT put his studies before his football and missed out on a chance to play at Wembley.

Now, the Partick Thistle striker is determined to put the beautiful game first, with Firhill his field of dreams.

Elliot had never played professionally before his move to Glasgow in August 2011, but his remarkable rise just keeps on going. Victory over Raith Rovers tomorrow night will not only clinch the Irn-Bru First Division title, it will end a nine-year wait for Thistle and realise a lifetime ambition for the English striker.

With Morton losing at home to Dunfermline Athletic on Saturday, Alan Archibald's side knew a win over Airdrie United would put them within touching distance of the top flight, but they left it late, Elliot netting in the final minute to clinch the win just seconds after Conrad Balatoni had equalised.

Regular football has been hard to come by for Elliot following his move north of the border, but this was undoubtedly the highlight of his Thistle career thus far.

The man who started his career with Jarrow in the Wearside League before moving to Whitley Bay is now heading for the Scottish top flight.

"I didn't win anything with Whitley Bay," Elliot said. "It is a semi-professional team and we went to Wembley twice for the FA Vase, which I wasn't involved in. I was at university and my exams were around that time, so I couldn't go. Everything happens for a reason and that could be the reason why I am here today.

"I am not a brain-box. I put the work in. I was studying quantity surveying. When I left school all I wanted to do was play football and going to university gave me a chance to still play football. I think that has got me to where I am today.

"I have got one year left [at university] and I can go back and get my degree, but football is more important at the minute. Hopefully, everything goes well and I don't need to go back to that."

While Thistle celebrated there was despair for Airdrie. As three points and then one were snatched from their grasp, so, too, was their status as a first division club. Liam Watt had given them hope of extending their stay in the division just before the break, but a penalty appeal that was waved away and a miss from Willie McLaren ensured Thistle were always within striking distance. When Balatoni and then Elliot beat keeper Robbie Thomson the fight was up for the afternoon and the season.

"We will go and have a chat and see where we go," said Airdrie manager Jimmy Boyle. "We will see what league reconstruction brings, as well. If we had seen games out, like Saturday, we might have taken it a bit closer. We will have a chat with the chairman and see where we go from here. I am very disappointed for the supporters."