Airdrieonians v Rangers preview
23rd August 2013
New Broomfield will be packed to the rafters on Friday night as Airdrieonians prepare to face Rangers.
A sell-out crowd and a live TV audience, on the new BT Sport channel, will watch the Diamonds take on the Light Blues for the first time in almost 13 years.
All four stands at the stadium will be utilised with the Airdrie faithful hoping Jimmy Boyle and his players can pull off a shock result and ambush the SPFL League One leaders.
Weeks of planning have gone into organising tonight's match – with supporters advised to arrive early and be patient as the area around New Broomfield is expected to be exceptionally busy.
On the pitch, the focus for Boyle and his players is strictly football with a large number of changes anticipated following the 2-0 defeat to Queen of the South in the second round of the Ramsdens Challenge Cup.
The Diamonds chief will evaluate the fitness of midfielders Nathan Blockley (thigh) and Martin Hardie (calf) before naming the team he will send into battle. He is missing long-term absentee John Boyle.
It's been a busy week for the Airdrie players – but motivation is not likely to be a problem this evening when Ally McCoist's men come calling.
"The players will have been in four nights this week once it's all over," the manager said.
"Training was on Monday and Thursday with games on Tuesday and Friday.
"It's a tough ask for a lot of them as they have families or are working but they know how important this week is for the club.
"We won't have done much on Thursday night. We'll have worked on some shape, set-pieces and let them get a sweat up. We will speak to them about how we want to play.
"This group of players are a professional bunch and I'm sure they will be fine."
Airdrie fielded a largely reserve side against the Doonhamers but Boyle saw signs of encouragement and says those who didn't feature grafted in training the night before the tie.
He added: "There were a lot of positives from the Queens game even though we lost 2-0. We gave them a few scares and created a few chances.
"The first-team players who weren't involved on Tuesday night came in on Monday and were given a hard session."
One aspect of having the Ramsdens Cup tie earlier this week is the fact that the build-up to the Rangers match will be fairly low key – something which suits Boyle down to the ground.
He said: "I'm really happy there is not going to be much of all that as it means we can just get into it and concentrate on the game."