Preview: Airdrieonians vs Dumbarton
February 1, 2019
Chris O’Neil wants home advantage to work for Airdrie when the Diamonds welcome Dumbarton to the Penny Cars Stadium this weekend.
Ian Murray’s side have suffered two away defeats in recent weeks, going down 3-0 at Celtic Park in the Scottish Cup before a disappointing 1-0 loss against Stenhousemuir last Saturday.
A four-match unbeaten streak preceded that, with three wins and a draw for the Diamonds. Having established himself in the new-look defence under Murray, O’Neil has racked up 12 starts in a row and is pleased with his return.
“We’ve been doing alright at the back, we’re not conceding as many stupid goals. I think that’s down to the manager and the change of shape more than the personnel - there are other boys like Pagey and Robbo who could come in and do the same job.
“The three has been working well - apart from last week! We’ve looked more solid at the back and we had been on a decent unbeaten run.”
Airdrie’s woes against Stenhousemuir continued last week, when the bottom side picked up another late victory over the Diamonds.
A well-struck free kick by substitute Thomas Halleran was the difference between the sides, and O’Neil feels it was just one of those days.
“It was a scrappy game - the kind where you feel sorry for the people who have paid in to watch.
“We had a couple of chances and Declan Glass played well in his first start, but in the end it was a good free-kick that decided it for Stenhousemuir.
“I don’t think you can put it down to a cup hangover, because I don’t think we’re like that as a team. We’re not complacent because we don’t really have any right to be - we’re mid-table as it stands. I think we just need to put it down to a bad day at the office.”
Ian Murray left his side in no doubt that improvement was required when Jim Duffy’s Dumbarton side come to visit this weekend, a fact that Chris acknowledges.
“This week we’re working hard in training, we need to play a lot better. We know Dumbarton are a good team with a lot of good players who have played at a high level.
“It’ll be a hard game, but there should be more football played than last week when it was a bit more of a battle. Every game in this league is hard though.
“We need to get back to the way we were playing before, and start another wee run going. We’ve played well at home recently, and we’re confident going into this one.”
Manager Ian Murray wants a ruthless display from his side.
“We got a good victory here in the cup against them, but the league draw down there was a different game.
“Jim Duffy’s teams are always well set-up, and although we’re all surprised at where they are, it’s up to us to show them no mercy and make life even harder for them.”
Former Sons keeper Scott Gallacher is Airdrie’s only absentee, with an otherwise clean bill of health for the squad.
Gallacher will not be the only familiar face at Saturday’s match - Airdrie’s Kieran MacDonald and Grant Gallagher also played for Dumbarton, while the Sons squad includes former Diamonds Grant Adam, Craig Barr, David Ferguson, Kyle Hutton and Iain Russell.
Saturday February 2, 2019
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Refereee: John McKendrick
Assistants: Graham McNeillie, Gary Hanvidge
Click to enlarge infographic
Saturday’s referee John McKendrick also officiated the 1-1 draw between the sides in September, as well as Airdrie’s 3-0 win at Berwick in August and November’s 2-1 victory at Stranraer.