Preview: Airdrieonians vs Forfar Athletic
March 22, 2019
Dale Carrick is desperate to win the fitness race and help Airdrie to a season-changing victory over Forfar Athletic.
The Diamonds frontman is on the road to recovery after picking up a leg injury against Montrose three weeks ago.
With League One’s form side Forfar visiting the Penny Cars Stadium on Saturday, Carrick is hopeful he’ll be ready to get back on the goal trail.
“The injury was a frustrating one. It’s really just a dead leg, but it’s in an awkward place between the fibia and the calf, so it’s taking longer than usual for the pain to go away.
“It’s especially annoying after getting back on the scoresheet, I just wanted to keep that momentum going.”
With last weekend’s tie at Dumbarton being postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, Carrick has only missed out on the 1-0 defeat at Raith Rovers after being withdrawn early in the home win against Montrose.
Before that the 25-year-old striker had ended a frustrating goalless run when he bagged the Diamonds’ opener at Arbroath.
“It was a monkey off my back to be fair - it seemed like ages since I’d scored. I’d been working hard and I’d had some good chances, so to finally score seemed like a weight lifted off me.
“Not scoring does affect me - I’m naturally a hard worker, but as a striker I want to get goals. That’s why I came to Airdrie, to score goals.
“It was getting frustrating because we haven’t been getting results, and it’s goals that win games. The longer it went on, the more I was overthinking it and putting more pressure on myself.”
Despite the relief of finally hitting the net, Carrick’s injury was a further source of frustration. The former Hearts and Livingston man hopes to be back in contention for Saturday’s vital home match against Forfar Athletic.
The Loons were Airdrie’s first opponents in League One this season, with late goals from Ryan Conroy, Leighton McIntosh and Joao Victoria giving the Diamonds a 3-1 win after Dale Hilson had opened the scoring at Station Park.
Two victories for Jim Weir’s men followed. An 82nd-minute goal by former Airdrie striker John Baird gave Forfar a 1-0 victory in November before the Loons eased to a 2-0 win back at Station Park last month, with January signings Gary Irvine and Adam Eckersley providing the goals.
That result was part of a strong run which has moved the Angus men up the table, and Carrick is aware of the difficult task that lies ahead for the Diamonds.
“They’re hitting great form and that’s taken them to second in the table. They’re tough opponents, very direct and they like to hit you on the counter-attack.
“We seem to be so inconsistent at the moment, but we’re concentrating on getting up the table. Nobody wants to be dragged down into the relegation dogfight.
“You can’t look too far forward - to coin an old football cliche, we’re taking one game at a time. We’re working towards getting three points on Saturday, then we’ll think about the next one.”
While the form-table suggests that a home win might be something of an upset, Dale knows what is required from Airdrie - and the potential importance of a positive result.
“We’ve got to go out with the right mindset and the right work ethic to get that win. We’re playing against a real in-form team, so it’s going to be very difficult and we all need to pull our weight.
Saturday March 23, 2019
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Refereee: Mike Roncone
Assistants: Chris Phillips, Jonathan Bell
Click to enlarge infographic
“A win would be a massive boost for confidence. The run we’ve been on has been disappointing, but sometimes one good result can change your fortunes.”
Manager Ian Murray wants to see more from his side.
“It’ll be a tough one, but no tougher than the rest of them - everyone is scrapping for every available point.
“I don’t feel we’ve done ourselves justice in the two games against Forfar since I came in, and today gives us another chance to put that right.”
The Airdrie boss doesn’t have his troubles to seek ahead of Saturday’s match. With Scott Gallacher and Grant Gallagher already sidelined, defenders Sean Crighton and Kieran MacDonald have joined Carrick on the ‘doubtful’ list, while Jordan Thompson is on international duty with Scotland.
Referee Mike Roncone was in charge when the Diamonds lost 1-0 to league leaders Arbroath in December, a match which saw the experienced whistler keep his cards in his pocket.