Manager Alan Archibald believes Partick Thistle’s recent form gives them the confidence needed to retain their Scottish Premiership status.
The Jags face Livingston over two legs in the play-off final for a place in the top flight next season having finished 11th ahead of Ross County.
Thistle have lost only one of their five post-split fixtures, and Archibald says that record can help the Firhill side secure victory.
“It gives us momentum,” he said.
“We asked the players after the split to turn it into a new season. There was so much negativity beforehand and rightly so, but we feel that we had to wipe the slate clean and focus on the five games we had coming up.
“We did that and I think the players feel more confident in their ability and in their performances.
“They trust each other in the way they’re playing now. We’ve seen a definite increase in the performances, it’s been better in the last five games. We’ve not won every game but we’ve been in the game, we’ve created chances, we’ve got a bit of momentum and the lads believe in themselves.”
Livingston booked their place in the play-off final by beating Dundee United 4-3 on aggregate.
Thistle travel to face David Hopkin’s side on Thursday, before hosting the return leg three days later.
Archibald, 40, has never been relegated during his two playing stints and current managerial tenure at Firhill, and remains confident his players can deliver under pressure.
“We’ve got to want it more,” Archibald said. “They’re coming to take our place, it’s us-versus-them and that’s the mentality going into the game.
“There’s massive pressure, I think we all feel it, but it’s certainly been easier going into this game than the ones before because the form has been good.
“If you’d asked me six months ago when we had a lot of injuries and we were all over the place, it was a lot more difficult. But when you’ve got the trust of the players and they’re playing better and trusting each other, you feel more confident going into games.”
Livingston and Thistle met last July in the League Cup group stage, with the Lions defeating their top-flight opponents on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
Archibald is wary of the quality Hopkin’s team possesses, and says suggestions that Livi rely purely on abrasive, bruising football are misplaced.
“They are physical, but I think it sometimes overshadows how good a team they are and how well they can play the game as well,” the Firhill boss said.
“I think a lot is made of it because they’re so good at it, but they’ve got good players. I know they start with that tenacity and energy and they like to play the game like that. I know the manager well and he’s done a wonderful job.”
- ^ beating Dundee United (www.bbc.co.uk)