ROY McGregor is renowned for visiting the January sales to replenish Ross County’s playing resources and on this evidence the time is right to dig out the chequebook once again. This attritional defeat to their fellow basement dwellers Partick Thistle means it is the Staggies, without a win in their last nine matches, who will start the year rock bottom of the Ladbrokes Premiership and with work to do if they are avoid the fate of their relegated Highland rivals Inverness Caley Thistle. "We got a reaction when we first came in, but whether we have regressed again I don’t know," said manager Owen Coyle. "That is something we will change in January and bring in the types of players we need. We want to strengthen in every area of the pitch.”

This always looked like the kind of match where one slip or mistake was likely to prove pivotal in deciding the outcome and it was County’s misfortune that captain and central defensive talisman Andrew Davies should oblige. There had appeared no danger whatsoever, ten minutes before the break, when his defensive partner Christopher Routis had possession in the opposition half. But the ball was funnelled, safety first, back to Davies, who then attempted to roll it back again to his goalkeeper Scott Fox. But he was sold woefully short, and who should nick in but Kris Doolan, the veteran striker skipping past the goalkeeper before clipping in his sixth of the season.

It wasn’t until four minutes from time that Thistle’s second win in three matches was confirmed - substitute Conor Sammon putting a couple of missed chances behind him to score a fine late clincher on the counter attack. Thistle stay in the drop zone but Alan Archibald now has three points of badly-needed breathing space as his squad re-charge their batteries and hopefully get some of their injured bodies back as they spend a chunk of the winter break out in Spain.

These two teams were clustered around the league's mid-section last season – Thistle finished sixth, while Ross County, in seventh, ended with more points – but they have fallen upon hard times. Only Thistle’s inferior goal difference saw them worst of the lot as the match began.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their current predicaments, both teams opted for 3-5-2 shapes, the ten men scrabbling around for possession in the midfield areas not usually the best omen for neutrals seeking a spectacle. The first slip which might have defined the day came when Marcus Fraser lost his footing, allowing Miles Storey to test Scott Fox with a low shot. Instead, it was Davies who was the fall guy, and he must have been feeling bad enough about that without spurning his shot at redemption straight away, sending a free header from a Gardyne corner wide of the post. Liam Kelly also had an earlier effort disallowed for offside after Davies again had caused havoc in the opposing penalty area.

The goal encouraged Partick to get the ball down and pass and the eager Sammon – on as a substitute for the injured Storey early on – went close twice, after neat play from Blair Spittal and then substitute Andrew McCarthy. Jamie Lindsay had a header saved at one end before McCarthy released Sammon one last time and the big striker cut in cleverly before finding the bottom corner. "There wasn't a lot in the first half and it took a silly mistake to get us in front," said Alan Archibald. "But we wanted to get off the bottom and it's important now we regroup after the break. We have six players missing and we've had assurances that at least two or three of them will be back for the game against Queen of the South."