Friday 24th January, 2020 at 1:43pm
It may have been but a consolation in the end but Stuart Bannigan’s late spot kick against Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup matched his best single-season goal tally as a Jag at four. He previously bagged four in the 2012/13 season but as Thistle’s penalty taker has this season managed to equal that with two coming this month. That’s not all the midfielder has done in January though as Bannigan put pen to paper on a new contract which will keep him in Maryhill until at least 2022. Since agreeing that new deal, Ian McCall has made five additions to his squad as the Jags look to climb the Ladbrokes Championship table and all of those new faces could make their league debuts at this weekend’s game against Arbroath with a massive three points on the line. Banzo spoke to ptfc.co.uk ahead of the match:
“They’re probably one of the better sides we’ve come up against this year. I’ve been really impressed with the way that they’ve adapted to life in the Championship so this will be a really tough game but we have to go up there with confidence looking to get a result.”
With the plethora of new signings that have arrived in the last two weeks, Bannigan thinks the team that takes the field at Gayfield Park this week could be unrecognisable from the one that the Red Lichties faced earlier in the season.
“I reckon it’ll be a completely different team. There’ll be a bit of the unknown about how we’re going to approach the game and hopefully that’ll help us get the win but we need the new guys to bed in quickly of course.
“We’ve tried to make them feel as comfortable as possible since each of them got here. Obviously, a couple were in last week and then a few more this week but we just want them to feel comfortable and from there you hope it clicks on the pitch.”
The manager has made moves to improve the defence, midfield and attack in the transfer window and Stuart says he’s been impressed by the moves the club has made.
“The gaffer’s done good business. The guys coming in are either proven at this level or, with the younger guys, have pedigree and a point to prove so I definitely feel we’re improving the strength of the squad as a whole.”
The away trip to Arbroath is never an easy one and with the stadium right on the seafront, silky football isn’t always on the menu and Bannigan says the team know it’s going to be a battle at times against Dick Campbell’s side.
“We’re going to have to fight for everything. We were actually quite lucky with the weather last time but in January you expect the wind certainly and maybe some rain so it’ll be a test, for sure. So it’s down to us to be ready for that battle because we know they will be.”
Arbroath lost in midweek to Alloa which only tightened the bottom half of the table further with just four points now separating fifth from last place but Stuart reckons that could play into Thistle’s hands going forward.
“That result in midweek really bunched things up and now all teams outside the top four could end up fifth if they win a couple of games in a row. That’s got to be our aim in the short term; get a win this weekend and then look to string a few more together after that.”
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