Partick Thistle goalkeeper Jamie Sneddon determined to maintain No.1 spot and continue upward trajectory

JAMIE SNEDDON spent his summer analysing the best goalkeepers in the world at the European Championships.

The Partick Thistle No.1 is hopeful that hours of study in front of the television will help elevate his game to a new level as he set his sights on becoming one of the standout shot-stoppers in Scottish football.

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Sneddon became the final member of boss Ian McCall’s League One title-winning side to sign a contract extension in July and is eager to continue his development in the Scottish Championship.

The 23-year-old, who previously spent time on trial with Hibernian and English Championship side Blackburn Rovers, reckons he is starting to reap the benefits of his pre-season prep work.

Early signs have been positive after keeping his first clean sheet of the season against Greenock Morton last month, although results in recent weeks have not been as good by his standards.

Sneddon said: “I’m always looking to improve aspects of my game.

“As a footballer, you’re always watching games and I managed to catch most of the Euros over the summer.

“I set myself a bit of homework and spent some time looking closely at certain keepers. You see a lot of great saves made at these big tournaments.

“Watching these guys, they’ve all got their own style. You look at the way they handle themselves on the pitch and you try to relate that to your own game.

“I know what my strengths and weaknesses are, so any tips I can pick up that I feel can benefit me going forward is something I like to take note of.

“You see the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Danny Ward and Daniel Bachmann that have all had spells in Scotland now playing on the biggest stage.

“It’s quite inspirational and shows you how quickly things can change in football and how fast you can progress. Hopefully I can get to that level one day.”

It has been a whirlwind time for the former Hearts and Cowdenbeath keeper, who battled back from a serious knee injury to equal Thistle’s club record of five consecutive clean sheets and in the process helped them to clinch the League One title.

Now in his fourth season with the Jags, Sneddon’s knows this is arguably the biggest season of his career.

He admitted: “I said to myself that this would be the year I really need to showcase my ability.

“It’s a hugely important season for the club being back in the Championship and we’ve started OK so far.

“I’m wanting to play as many games as I can and prove that I can play at this level. There will always be another keeper fighting for the number one jersey, but it’s a challenge I relish.

“Harry (Stone) is a great, young keeper and is highly-rated by Hearts. Since he’s came in, he has done very well and we drive each other on in training.

“Having that competition helps raise my standards. It is up to me to perform consistently and keep the gloves.

“Physically I feel I’m a lot stronger now after my injury and I’ve been pain free since February, so I’m happy to put that all behind me.

“We’re competing against some really good sides. The league looks to be wide-open. Every game is a battle and teams are taking points off each other.

“The club has a real feel-good factor around it after sealing promotion last season and the gaffer kept the nucleus of this squad together.

“He’s added some young talent as well as a few experienced heads, so I still think we’ll be stronger than last year.

“Recently, I’ve been happy with my performances, but we need to start getting a bit of momentum going.”

Harry Stone has been in and out the team at Partick Thistle. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Sneddon will take his place between the sticks against Ayr United on Saturday and has outlined the importance of ending a run of three straight defeats, including Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Raith Rovers.

He added: “We know that losing those three games is not good enough for where we want to be, but they were really tough games and it’s a good indicator for where we need to improve.

“We can take confidence from the fact we had a lot of good spells in those games. We need to bounce back now.

“You always know you’re in for a tough battle against Ayr. They’re a very hard-working, physical side but we need to focus on our game plan.

“We showed a lot of character at 3-0 down last weekend to keep going and on another day who know what might have happened because we were well on top at the end.”

Winning the SPFL League One title last term is a moment that Sneddon will cherish throughout his career and he admits the transformation of the club since McCall took over from Gary Caldwell has been massive.

He said “The club had been on a downward trajectory for a while. When I signed, the club had just finished top six in the Premiership but then we got relegated in my first year.

“Ian (McCall) brought the whole club together again and there’s now a real spirit and buzz around the place.

“There’s a good atmosphere among the boys and we’re all fighting for each other which was maybe lacking a bit previously.

“I’d never really been part of a winning team before so to be part of that environment last season was amazing.

“The way everything unfolded towards the end of last season with my setback but then coming back into the side and how the last few weeks panned out was pretty special.

“Holding the trophy and having that winners medal round your neck was a surreal feeling and by far the biggest moment of my career to date.”