BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
CONRAD BALATONI completed a memorable Edinburgh double when he inspired Ayr United to a stunning win over Hibs.
Now the former Hearts kid is determined to inflict further pain on his old foes.
The 25-year-old, who spent four years years on the books of the Jambos as a youngster, powered home a superb header at Easter Road in September to level the scores before Brian Gilmour struck to secure a famous win.
It remains Hibs’ only Championship defeat of the season ahead of the return fixture at Somerset Park this afternoon.
Balatoni’s goal in Leith came less than a year after he rescued a point for Kilmarnock with a poignant effort against Hearts – his boyhood heroes as well as former club – at Tynecastle.
He said: “It is always a special moment to get a goal – and that one at Easter Road means I have now scored against Hearts and Hibs in Edinburgh.
“After coming through as a player in the city, it feels like I’ve scored against my two ‘home’ clubs.
“It was a nice moment and was an important goal to help the team so I’d love to repeat that on Saturday.
“Hibs had a man sent off and that changed the game, but we want to take the confidence from that result and performance back to Somerset Park and put on a good show.
“We know the quality we have and, if we play to our strengths, believe we can match anyone in the league.”
Ayr are seeking to bounce back from a 2-1 reverse against in-form Morton in their last outing – a rare disappointment in a run of just two defeats in 10 matches for Ian McCall’s men.
And Balatoni, who crossed the Ayshire divide after being frozen out at Killie, insists he is relishing life with the Honest Men as they continue to confound expectations on their return to the Championship.
He added: “I played a lot of games last season but at the beginning of this season I didn’t, so it is just a nice feeling to be playing regular football and feel wanted somewhere.
”I’m really enjoying it here and long may that continue – but the main thing is that, as a team, we get back to winning ways this weekend.”