Partick Thistle now targeting Hearts and fifth place, says Kris Doolan

Kris Doolan says Partick Thistle have adjusted their target to catching fifth-top Hearts after clinching a top-six Scottish Premiership finish.

Thistle's 1-0 win over Motherwell on Saturday means they will be in the top half of the table when it splits in two after this weekend's games.

"We see this as a chance not only to finish sixth but catch those teams above us," said striker Doolan.

"And, with the kind of form we're in, there's no reason why we can't."

Thistle's run of eight league games unbeaten ensured their first top-six finish since the league split was introduced and their highest finish since 1981.

"It's been unbelievable," said Doolan, whose side are only three points behind Hearts and eight adrift of St Johnstone with six games remaining.

Partick Thistle's Christie Elliott and Kris Doolan celebrate
Kris Doolan (right) has scored seven goals in his last nine appearances

"It has been a great season so far and to have the top six wrapped up with a game to spare is even better.

"Now we've made the top six, if we can catch Hearts then that's a massive achievement, but we need to try to keep that consistency now."

Doolan had competed with Ade Azeez for a regular starting place in the first two thirds of the season, but the Scot has been a starter since two goals as a second-half substitute against Hamilton Academical in February.

The 30-year-old has gone on to score five more to take his season's total to 13 and his personal tally since joining the club from juniors Auchinleck Talbot in 2009 to 102.

However, rather than link the recent run with his own place in the team, Doolan points to a change in tactics by manager Alan Archibald.

"We were playing a lot of high crosses into the box, which didn't really suit us and, as a small striker, it's not really the kind of ball I would want to be on the end of," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald
Shrewsbury Town failed to prise Alan Archibald away from Thistle in October

"But, since the turn of the year, we've practiced a lot on working the ball into the box in different ways and trying to cut teams open instead of getting the ball wide for crosses."

Thistle were a point below Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the foot of the table in December.

"Yes, we were in a terrible position at that point, but within the club, within the dressing-room, we knew we had the quality to get us out that situation," said Doolan.

An approach for Archibald from Shrewsbury Town failed in October and Doolan believes the players took inspiration from the manager's loyalty.

"The manager leads by example at times, especially when it comes to contracts," added the striker.

"When he commits his future to the club, sometimes that encourages players to follow suit and I think that had a big bearing on the stability of the club.

"Off the pitch, we are very stable and, on the pitch, we are improving year upon year and the manger's got a lot to do with that."

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