Hibs winger Brandon Barker wary of fired-up Partick Thistle
Brandon Barker has warned his Hibs team-mates that basement side Partick Thistle are likely to give the Easter Road outfit one of their hardest games as the Glasgow side battle to get away from the bottom of the Premiership table.
Alan Archibald’s players have won just two of their 14 league games so far, Dundee’s victory over Rangers on Friday night dropping the Jags to the bottom of the pile, although they do have a game in hand.
However, on-loan Manchester City winger Barker insisted that will make the Jags highly-dangerous opponents when Hibs travel to Firhill this weekend.
The 21-year-old said: “When you play teams at the bottom, they are normally the hardest games because they are fighting for their lives.
“Partick are a good team with good players and it’s another away match for us which is always difficult.”
Hibs, though, will make the journey along the M8 comforted by the fact that they have yet to lose a Premiership match “on the road” this season, previous trips to Glasgow having seen them beat Rangers and draw with Brendan Rodgers’ invincibles.
Add to those two impressive results wins away to Ross County, Motherwell and Kilmarnock and the fact Neil Lennon’s players have drawn with at Dundee, St Johnstone and, now, Hamilton and it’s easy to see why the Capital outfit today sit third in the table in what is their first season in the top flight following a three year absence.
There is, of course, the feeling that they could be even better placed, the stalemate at the SuperSeal Stadium – Antonio Rojano’s equalising header Hamilton’s only attempt on target in the entire 90 minutes – denying them the opportunity to leapfrog Aberdeen and into second if even for 24 hours, while Lennon is adamant his side should also have taken maximum points at both Dens and McDiarmid Park.
As disappointing as it was to have to settle for a point in a bruising encounter against Accies, Barker was adamant that if he and his team-mates, who defeated Thistle 3-1 on the opening day of the season, produce the same performance as they did at the weekend, then they can have reasonable hope of taking all three points in Maryhill and so maintain their high standing ahead of a demanding December schedule which continues with games against Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen in the space of just six days.
He said: “Hamilton is a hard place to go but I thought we dominated, especially in the first half.
“We should have been three up, if we are being honest with ourselves. They had one chance and scored so it was disappointing. But we put in a good performance and there were lots of positives to take from the game.”
Martin Boyle and Paul Hanlon both saw efforts blocked by the feet of Accies goalkeeper Gary Woods, saves which Barker described as “unbelievable”, adding: “The boys really couldn’t do anything else. We just did not have the luck on the day but, if we play again like we did at the weekend, then hopefuly we can get the three points.”
Barker was one of a number of players who had been hit by a bug in the build-up to the Accies match, striker Anthony Stokes being forced to miss out.
There was little sign, however, of any ill-effects as his blistering pace caused Martin Canning’s side all sorts of problems and led to Simon Murray’s 14th goal of the season, the flame-haired striker flashing a rising shot between Woods and his near post.
Even the obvious attempts of both Darren Lyon and Dougie Imrie, among five Hamilton players booked by referee Don Robertson, to stop him by illegal methods failed to halt a run which took him more than 50 yards from inside his own half in the blink of an eye.
Although his searing speed was on display on the flanks from time to time, Barker had primarily been asked to play in the more unusual role at the tip of the midfield “diamond,” just in behind the front pairing of Murray and he equally fast Martin Boyle.
Having arguably produced his best performance since arriving in Edinburgh on a season-long loan, Barker admitted the greater understanding he’s been building with his new team-mates is beginning to pay off with him now having made 14 appearances in a green-and-white shirt.
Barker said: “I was playing in the ‘hole’, which is different for me but I enjoyed it. The gaffer told me to get the ball and just run and that’s what I did.
“I have a good relationship with Simon and Martin. I saw Simon and played him in and he did the rest.
“It was an unbelievable finish. I got the assist, but it was the finish that made it.”