Preview: Stranraer vs Airdrieonians
November 15, 2019
Calum Gallagher is ready for a battle at Stranraer as the striker aims to take his goal tally into double figures and fire Airdrie to the top of League One.
The Diamonds’ top scorer was the hero of the hour with a stoppage-time winner in last weekend’s thrilling 2-1 victory at the Falkirk Stadium, but is quick to point out that the result - which takes Airdrie within a point of the top of the table - was a team effort.
“Right from the start, the boys were excellent. We showed a lot of desire, we were brave when we had to be, and we tried to take the game to Falkirk. Our mindset now is that if we want to compete for the title, we need to keep doing that.
“On a personal note, getting the late winner in front of the fans was a bit of a magical moment - that’s me up to nine for the season now, so hopefully I can get another one on Saturday and get into double figures as early as possible!”
Current top two Raith Rovers and East Fife are not in league action this weekend due to their Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Cup involvement, so a win at Stranraer would send the Diamonds clear at the top of the table.
Gallagher believes that would bring a different kind of pressure.
“It makes you the team everybody wants to beat, but at the same time it gives you something to hold on to.
“If we get there we need to be aggressive and possessive in staying there. That might bring out an uglier, better side of us - which may be what’s needed.”
Standing between the Diamonds and the summit is a tricky tie at Stair Park. Stranraer currently occupy ninth place in the League One table, but the Blues took a two-goal lead at the Penny Cars Stadium back in September. Only second-half goals from Callum Smith and Paul McKay rescued a point for Airdrie, with a controversial red card for Stranraer’s David Dangana later being overturned.
Calum knows that Airdrie are in for a difficult afternoon.
“It’ll be a tough game. When we played up here, I thought Stranraer were excellent for long spells in the game. Based on that performance, their league position at the moment is probably a bit misleading.
“We need to be prepared for the battle and earn the right to play. The chance to go top is a big incentive for us, but we need to do exactly what we did last week and take the game to Stranraer.”
Manager Ian Murray agrees that Stevie Farrell’s side have already proven how tough an opponent they can be.
“When they came here it took a 91st-minute goal to get us a point, and although we could possibly have nicked it after that, they gave us a very hard game.
“We expect the same down there - we’ve got a good record against them in recent seasons, but we know we’ll have to go there and perform to the levels that we have been showing in the last month or so.”
The Diamonds boss is still without Scott Gallacher (knee), Adam Eckersley (rib) and Craig Thomson (arm).
Referee Grant Irvine is in charge of his second Airdrie match this season, having officiated the opening Betfred Cup fixture at Partick Thistle.
Stranraer have advised that both the ‘Fitba’ Bar in the town centre (approximately one mile from Stair Park) will be open to fans, as will the Pavilion Bar at the ground from 12:15pm.