Ian McCall hopeful Partick Thistle can end first quarter of Scottish Championship season on winning note

The Jags boss knows the competitive nature of the league will ensure it will get even tighter

Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall is determined to end their first quarter of the season on a high as they return to league duty tomorrow night.

The Jags make the short trip to face Hamilton at the Fountain of Youth Stadium, but will remain without injured trio Darren Brownlie, Steven Bell and Harry Stone.

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After dismantling Ayr United 4-0 in their last Championship outing a fortnight ago, Thistle were brought crashing back down to earth as they lost 2-0 against Queen of the South in the SPFL Trust Trophy last Friday.

McCall knows victory over Accies will keep his side on track for a play-off spot but accepts the league is likely to get even tighter, with just four points separating second from fifth.

He said: “We played very well in the game against Ayr but just like the Queen of the South game, it’s done now and we need to look forward.

“It’s a game that looks like it will decide whether Hamilton have had a really poor first quarter and we have had a really good first quarter – or that we have both had an OK one.

“It’s never easy coming down from the Premiership and you’ve got to say that Hamilton did ever so well to stay up there for so long with the crowds that they get and things like that.

“I know (Accies boss) Stuart Taylor as I had him as a player a couple of times. He’s very well thought of in football and he’s been at a couple of big clubs, albeit not as a manager.

“Obviously he wanted to get out on his own and face all the challenges that the rest of us face.”

McCall outlined Hamilton’s win over top-of-the-table Inverness as a prime example of the competitive nature of the Championship.

He believes the absence of a big-hitting side in the second tier will ensure the race to finish among the top-four will continue to intensify as the season progresses.

He stated: “If you examine the league after eight games, if we put two sitters into the net at Inverness and we won that game, it would be tighter and will get even tighter still.

“It’s hard to imagine that Dunfermline will stay like they currently are and I don’t see one team running away with it like a Dundee United or a Hearts.

“I’ve said all along wins are really at a premium and our target is to try and win five games minimum each quarter. If you do that, you’ll end up pretty high in the league.”