Hibernian V Partick at Easter Road Stadium : Match Preview

02 May 2014 02:31
Hibernian V Partick - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Balatoni sees a threat from Hibs

Conrad Balatoni will go into Saturday's Scottish Premiership clash with struggling Hibernian at Easter Road fearing that the home side's dreadful form will come to an end against Partick Thistle.

Hibs have lost their last six matches and are without a win in 11 as the scramble to avoid the play-off place enters its final three games.

The Leith side's 2-1 defeat to already-relegated Edinburgh rivals Hearts last week left Terry Butcher's one point ahead of Kilmarnock, who currently occupy 11th place, level on points with Thistle.

"They are playing off the back of a derby defeat," said 23-year-old defender Balatoni.

"They will want to show everyone what they really can do.

"A losing streak always has to come to an end. It is fact. They are due a win.

"As much as they maybe haven't played great, they still have quality and they can still hurt teams.

"The gaffer has drilled it into us, what their weaknesses and strengths are, hopefully we can match their effort and commitment and produce a bit of quality on the day."

Balatoni, who was born in Leeds but who started his career at Hearts, has all but given up trying to predict the post-split results between the bottom six clubs but wants Thistle to take care of their own destiny.

He said: "Anyone in the bottom six can beat anyone. Look at Hearts, they have gone on a ridiculous run of form and are taking points off everyone just now.

"Kilmarnock have beaten teams around them and now they have lost two on the bounce.

"So it is throwing up surprises but hopefully there won't be any surprises on Saturday and we can get the three points.

"It is very tight but we have a bit of momentum, a win and a draw, and let's hope we can continue that to get the vital win.

"A point is not the end of the world but you want to win and pull yourself away from the pack and hopefully guarantee safety in the next couple of games and it could be in our hands on Wednesday if we win on Saturday, depending on other results."

Alan Archibald has three unnamed players struggling for fitness.

Defender Aaron Muirhead (knee) and midfielders Isaac Osbourne (ankle) and Sean Welsh (groin) remain on the sidelines.

However, the Jags boss has another trio of doubts who are rated 50-50 but who will be given every chance.

Hibernian midfielder Scott Robertson still believes the Easter Road side are superior to city rivals Hearts - despite losing four Edinburgh derbies this season.

But the former Scotland midfielder, who made his return to action in last Sunday's 2-1 defeat to the Jambos after almost four months out with a knee injury, claims Hearts have tried harder against the Leith side than the rest of the teams facing them in the Scottish Premiership.

Hibs' latest derby defeat was another humiliation for a side that has triumphed just once from five local encounters this term.

Despite their win, Gary Locke's men are destined for relegation after failing to overturn the 15-point punishment handed to them for going into administration.

But Terry Butcher's team are in free-fall too, with a run of 10 matches without a win leaving them perched just a point above the relegation play-off spot.

And were it not for Hearts' points deduction, Robertson's side would actually sit level with their Gorgie foes.

But the former Dundee United man insists Hibs have been unlucky in their derby clashes so far.

He said: "They say derbies normally take care of themselves. You see it all the time, it seems like underdogs raise their game for those type of games. It's not up to us to say that Hearts have been underdogs, but everybody has put them in that position all season.

"However, if you tell me that they put in that much effort against every other team then I'd say you're lying because obviously they raise their game for the derby. They obviously got the right results but we feel like we've been the better team and not got the right result against them."

Hibs' last derby success was January's 2-1 Easter Road triumph, but instead of taking a confident stride on from that result they stumbled from one nightmare to another.

Only Ross County have been beaten since and the green and white half of the capital are now desperately worried they could be set for the same fate as their maroon rivals.

"We've only won one game since we beat Hearts in January but I can't put a finger on why we haven't kicked on from that win," said Robertson. "It's just obviously not been good enough.

"We haven't scored enough goals and kept enough clean sheets and it's a really bad combination, so we need to focus on keeping a clean sheet. If you don't lose goals you don't lose games so that would be a good start.

"If there was a formula to follow everybody would be successful it's not as easy as that. The manager has been working hard, listening to a lot of what we've had to say, pulling advice from other people who have been in similar situations and trying to find the best solution"

Robertson was a surprise starter last week after Butcher gambled on his fitness less than a fortnight after returning from damaged knee ligaments.

But after a 67-minute run out, the 29-year-old now feels up to speed and is desperate to help his side get back to winning ways against Partick in Edinburgh on Saturday.

He said: "I enjoyed being back on the pitch; it was just a shame we couldn't get the result that everybody craved so much.

"After an hour of the derby my lack of game time was starting to tell a wee bit. I was making a couple of stray passes and my touch was not as good as it should have been and so the manager made the right call to take me off.

"Results have not been great while I was out, but in all honesty the last two weeks in training have been quite buoyant and now we just want to get back out there this weekend."

Hibernian will have to do without suspended defender Jordon Forster. Back-four colleague James McPake is unlikely to feature either as his back struggles linger on.

Definitely unavailable are Paul Heffernan (thigh) and Paul Hanlon (knee), who are both out for the season.

Source: PA