SHEA GORDON admits that Partick Thistle will be facing a different Dunfermline side to the one that held the Jags to a goalless stalemate at Firhill last month after John Hughes was unveiled as Peter Grant’s successor at East End Park.

The Pars’ Championship campaign got off to a slow start, ultimately costing Grant his job, while ‘Yogi’ was appointed two weeks ago – resulting in an immediate upturn in form for the Fife club.

After failing to record a league victory all season, Hughes’ men now have two in as many games under the former Inverness manager’s watch.

The three meetings between the two sides this season prior to tomorrow night’s Scottish Cup third-round clash in Maryhill (two in the league and one in the Premier Sports Cup group stages) has been decidedly mixed, with each team recording a victory while last month’s encounter finished goalless.

It’s this form led Gordon to admit that Thistle were in for a difficult test no matter who was in the opposition dugout as the second-tier sides begin their cup campaign in earnest, but the Northern Irishman reckons Hughes’ appointment will make life that little bit more difficult for the midfielder and his team-mates.

“It seems like they have changed around a wee bit since he [Hughes] came in,” he explained.

“We all knew at some stage they would turn things around because they’ve got so many good players in the team, so you think that poor run they were on wasn’t going to last forever.

“Even the last time we played them, we knew it would be a tough game, you’re not going to get any easy game. Since he’s come in, they’ve started to pick up again.

“We know Friday night, regardless of who their manager is, would be tough anyway but I think now it’s added a bit more to it – it’s definitely going to be a tough one for us.”

Barring a run to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup in 2019, Gordon hasn’t ever really enjoyed a proper run in the domestic cups during his two-and-a-half years in Glasgow’s west end, and the 23-year-old reckons helping his team to reach the latter stages of the tournament would further enhance the feel-good factor emanating from Firhill of late.

“Yes, [a cup run] would be nice,” he added. “I’ve been here for a couple of years but we haven’t really had a cup run I suppose, but it definitely brings a different buzz about it.

“If you can go on a cup run I think the fans jump even more on that and I think it would be great for everyone around the club. It gives a different kind of feel, so if we can start off on a run this Friday, it would bring a bit more excitement for everyone. As long as we’re still winning games, that’s just as important.”

He continued: “I’m not too sure [what the high and low points have been]. For me, the low probably was more when we played Hearts a couple of seasons ago and we came close against them. On the night, we could’ve had a couple of penalties and we felt we could’ve done a bit better.

“Even against Dundee United last season, we thought we were the better team in the game and we ended up throwing it away in the last few minutes.

“It was still early stages in the competition, but I think if you can get past the first few rounds, you’re not far away.

“When you win your first couple of games then you can look to push on. I think for us we’re just going to worry about the game on Friday.”

Gordon takes heart from the Jags’ newfound resilience at the back – Thistle set a new club record as they recorded a sixth consecutive clean sheet in the league during last weekend’s 1-0 win over Accies – but the midfielder is equally encouraged by performances at the other end of the pitch. And with Thistle currently the Championship’s top scorers and the goals being spread around McCall’s squad, it might just be well-placed.

Gordon said: “When you’re scoring goals like we did, it gives confidence to everyone around the team. Add to that we’re not conceding goals now, so it just shows that when you’re doing both of those things then you’re doing something right.

“For us, we want to keep that going and when your confidence is high like that it’s almost as if you can do no wrong. I think we’ve done so well in every area of the pitch, everyone is playing their part without conceding goals, but now we’re creating chances and scoring goals.

“It’s definitely been a full team performance every week, we’re not just relying on one man anymore, so it’s brilliant.”

Gordon has been a bit-part player this term under McCall, slotting in and out of the starting XI as and when the occasion demands it. He grabbed his first goal of the season against Ayr earlier this month after clambering off the bench for the final few minutes of Thistle’s 4-0 win at Somerset Park, and the natural midfielder has occasionally featured at right-back. Gordon, however, insists he is happy to play wherever he is required if it is to the benefit of the team.

“It’s part of football,” he reasoned. “At the time I wasn’t playing as much so I was more than happy to fill in and do a job for the boys because when you’re not playing regularly you will go on the pitch anywhere.

“For me, I don’t mind where I’m playing as long as I’m on the pitch.

“Coming on a right-back wasn’t too different to where I’ve played before and I felt I did a half-decent job but I know now if I’m needed to play there I can do it again. Hopefully I get another chance like that again soon.

“It was nice coming on [against Ayr], I wasn’t on for long so I didn’t expect to score but I popped up at the back and was able to knock one in.

“So it’s nice because when you’re not playing as much, to come in and contribute to the team. You want to do your bit as well so I was pleased with that.”