Ross County merit top-six finish, says Jim McIntyre

By Martin DowdenBBC Scotland at Victoria Park

Jim McIntyre insists his Ross County side deserve to be in the Premiership's top six after their win over Partick Thistle ensured a top-half finish.

An early Alex Schalk strike proved decisive with Dundee losing to Hamilton Academical.

That allowed Scottish League Cup winners County to achieve the target they had set at the start of the season.

"It means everything," McIntyre told BBC Scotland.

Interviews: McIntyre and Archibald

"We made it no secret at the start of the season that that was our goal.

"We've been fighting relegation the last couple of seasons. This season's been good progress, obviously the cup win is fantastic but for me I judge myself, I judge my players on the consistency of trying to be a top-six team.

" It's fantastic and we deserve it."

'We always bounce back'

McIntyre's side knew they had to win and hope Dundee failed to beat Hamilton to move above seventh.

"I think from the second week onwards we've been in the top six," McIntyre continued. "Our consistency levels from Christmas onwards haven't been good enough to pull away and secure it.

"The one thing we've continuously done this season is when we've had a poor result or couple of results, we always bounce back and that shows the character in the dressing room.

"I'll always be looking for more consistency in the team and that's the challenge going forward."

Ross County goalkeeper Scott Fox makes a save
Thistle could not find a way past Ross County goalkeeper Scott Fox

Schalk scored the winner in last month's cup final defeat of Hibernian and delivered again for his manager.

"It was summed up typically by Alex Schalk, who was ill this week," explained McIntyre. "I spoke to him this morning and he thought he would struggle to play but I told him he was playing.

"He gave us the winning goal so absolutely thrilled for him and thrilled for the players, they work so hard.

"Planning for next season has been going on for a wee while. Top six certainly helps for your budget. It's fantastic.

"I think anytime you play in high profile games or get recognition for success then it does make the club more attractive."

It was a day of disappointment for Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald, who watched his side narrowly miss out on a top-six finish themselves.

"Bitterly disappointed, it just wasn't to be our day," Archibald said. "There just wasn't enough there in the final third.

"It's hard to get over the disappointment. It was in our own hands today, that's the biggest disappointment. We wanted to do it, had the chance to do it and other results went for us.

"We'll need to pick the lads up, obviously. We've got five games to go.

"We finished eighth last year and we want to go and build on that. That was our goal at the start of the season and we've still got a chance to do that."