The following article is from our dedicated Partick Thistle newsletter, which is released every Wednesday at 6 pm. You can receive it directly to your inbox for FREE two days early - just sign up here. 

Partick Thistle returned to the kingdom of Fife for the second time in a week as they looked to extend their four-game unbeaten run against title-chasing Raith Rovers. The Rovers had taken their foot off the gas in recent weeks and had allowed table toppers Dundee United to pull away at the summit, however, the Jags were well aware they would have to be on their A-game to leave Kirkcaldy with a result - having failed to win at Stark’s Park since March 2011.

The Maryhill outfit would have to do so without the services of Steven Lawless - the diminutive winger rupturing his Achilles at East End Park ruling him out until 2025 at the earliest. A monumental blow to Thistle’s play-off plans losing their most creative outlet at the business end of the season. Without a ‘like for like’ replacement, Jags fans spent the week surmising possible tweaks to the starting XI that would utilise the playing squad to the best of its ability.

Concern grew stronger as Thistle were dealt a further blow with March Player of the Month Scott Robinson picking up a knock in training - the attacking midfielder joining the ever-expanding list of absentees in the process.

Kris Doolan decided to stick to his guns and persevere with his preferred formation as 18-year-old Zander Mackenzie was given the nod to cover the Lawless-shaped hole on the right-hand side of the Thistle midfield. The Lochgilphead native making his first start in the side since September last year when his performances as the Jags ‘utility man’ - deputising for the injured Jack McMillan - earned the youngster international recognition at under-19s level.

The game itself transpired to be a cagey affair indicative of two sides aware that any slip-up at this stage of the campaign could prove costly to their ultimate goal of reaching the top flight. The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock after only a quarter of an hour when former Jags hitman Zak Rudden towered above the defence to meet Josh Mullin’s cross, the Jags support behind the goal held their breath in anticipation of the net bulging - only for the striker to be denied by a point-blank stop from David Mitchell in the Thistle goal.

With the clock ticking towards 90, the Jags knew that with results elsewhere going in their favour - a victory against Raith would be enough to secure a playoff spot for the Firhill side. As Doolan’s men went in search of a winner, Kerr McInroy was brought down on the edge of the area presenting Thistle with a tantalizing opportunity to snatch all three points deep into injury time. The Jags boss moved swiftly to bring Blair Alston onto the park with the sole responsibility of having a strike at goal from the aforementioned set-piece. The accomplished technician drew breath, and took two paces towards the ball before crashing a knuckleball effort off Kevin Dabrowski’s crossbar. An almost inch-perfect introduction for the experienced midfielder who very nearly sealed Thistle’s playoff berth with his only touch of the game.

Despite the stalemate, Thistle will take plenty of positives from the hard-earned point in Kirkcaldy, with the Jags looking a shadow of their former selves that leaked goals at an alarming rate. Vice Captain Aaron Muirhead marked his 150th appearance for the club by picking up his third cleansheet in his past four outings as his partnership with Luke McBeth looks to be growing stronger with each passing week as they continue to build a strong rapport with goalkeeper Mitchell.

The Jags now only require one point from their three remaining league fixtures in order to secure their Premiership playoff spot for the third consecutive season. Thistle will be looking to get matters wrapped up at the soonest eventuality and what better way to do it than against fellow promotions rivals Airdrieonians as the Jags aim to beat the Diamonds past the post in their race for third place.