Battling to avoid drop
Jags boss hails victory over basement boys ‘Gow
Lesmahagow ........ 1 EK Thistle ............. 3
Alan Paterson heaped praise on patched-up East Kilbride Thistle as they earned a vital win in their bid to beat relegation.
The Jags gaffer, who was forced to pull his side out of Saturday’s Central League Cup tie with Glasgow Perthshire due to a lack of players, watched his side sink relegation rivals Lesmahagow on Monday night to keep their survival hopes alive.
Goals from trialists Johnny Diack and James Miller plus a penalty from skipper Dougie Ryan did the damage as Thistle ran out 3-1 winners.
The victory leaves them four points off the relegation places but Forth Wanderers, who currently occupy the last spot in the drop zone, have two games in hand and play Thistle on the final day of the season.
And it makes for a nail-biting 10 days for the Showpark faithful.
The Jags have three games remaining with home clashes against Wishaw tonight and second-bottom Thorniewood on Saturday followed by the trip to Forth on May 26.
Their survival is very much in the balance, but Paterson hailed his squad for coming through the Lesmahagow test and giving themselves a chance to stay afloat.
He said: “I don’t think we played that well, but we scored good goals at good times.
“We battled well on a difficult pitch and you could tell near the end the boys were dead on their feet out there.
“We still have a very depleted squad. James Miller came back into the squad for us as a trialist and scored an important goal.
“I had 14 players to choose from on Monday night and four of them were trialists, so that shows you what we are up against.
“Jonny Diack, James Miller, Ross Meldrum and Anton McGuigan all played a part, so it was vital to get them in.
“We only had three defenders available as well, so that wasn’t ideal but the important thing was we got through the game.
“Some guys are only lasting an hour and needing to come off because they’ve been playing so many games recently.
“They are playing through the pain barrier and you could see the team spirit that’s in this squad when we scored.
“These guys aren’t getting paid to play, but with the celebrations at the goals you could see how much it means to them.”
Thistle’s injury crisis looks set to ease off over the coming days and Paterson is hopeful of having a stronger squad as they face up to two big tests over the next four days.
He added: “I’m hoping we have Scott Hadden and Liam Barclay back for Saturday and we will be a bit stronger by then.
“As for Wednesday, it’s probably going to be the toughest of the last three games.
“But Wishaw have been playing a lot of games after their run [to the semifinals] in the Junior Cup, so hopefully they run out of steam a bit and we can take advantage.
“Two wins from our final three games would be a big help, but we need to go all out for three.
“It could come down to that final game against Forth, so we have to try and get maximum points and hope for the best.”
Tonight’s match with Wishaw is a 7.15pm kick-off at the Showpark and the visit of Thorniewood on Saturday is a 2pm kick-off.
Spot on Thistle skipper Dougie Ryan scored a crucial penalty