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Blair Spittal shrugs off abuse from fans as Ross County advance in Betfred Cup

Ross County midfielder Blair Spittal has shrugged off the abuse he received from home fans on his return to Partick Thistle, saying: “I gave it out so I’m big enough to take it as well.”

It proved to be an eventful afternoon for the 23-year-old, who scored a stunning 60th-minute opener for the Staggies before being withdrawn minutes later with a minor knee injury as his side crashed out the Betfred Cup.

Spittal was voted Thistle’s player of the year last season but he is not so popular with his former supporters now.

He was booed throughout the first half before responding by raising his finger to his lips as he scored, but Spittal believes it is just part of the game.

“I’m not disappointed with getting abuse, when I missed the chance they were dishing it out to me so when I scored it was an opportunity to celebrate,” he said.

“It’s just one of those things in football, I enjoyed my time here but it was time to move on. You just have to deal with it, I gave it out so I’m big enough to take it as well.”

Spittal’s goal looked to be the winner at Firhill until Kenny Miller swept home to equalise after 80 minutes to take the game into extra time.

Academy graduate James Penrice then put Thistle ahead after 97 minutes with a superb 25-yard free-kick but County hit back and levelled through substitute Harry Paton.

With the game seemingly destined for penalties, Steven Saunders rose highest to head home Penrice’s corner and secure Thistle’s place in the quarter-finals.

Spittal added: “We didn’t start well in the first half but created a few chances.

“Thistle came out the traps second half but we got the goal against the run of play. We were fairly solid and should have held on for the win and we are disappointed with that.”

Jags forward Alex Jones, a summer signing from Bradford, was named man of the match and he was delighted to show the fans what he can offer.

He said: “I was a little behind fitness wise coming in later so it was important to get over 90 minutes today.

“First and foremost I want to score goals but you need chances to do that. I can hold the ball up, let the team get up the pitch and bring others into the game.

“I want to play well when I have the ball and put in a shift when we don’t have it.”