Airdrieonians vs Stranraer
January 24, 2020
Callum Smith wants to get back on the goal trail against Stranraer - and help fire Airdrie to the top of the league.
The on-loan Dunfermline forward was a stand-out in last week’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie against Hearts, despite a heavy defeat for the Diamonds.
Now as the League One title chase resumes with the visit of bottom side Stranraer, Smith wants to use that result as a catalyst for success.
“Obviously it’s not the result we wanted, but the fans were brilliant and it was a good occasion for the boys.
"I think we’ll see a good reaction. Because of the way we were beaten, we’re determined to come back stronger against Stranraer so it will kick us on.”
Three games into the third quarter of the league season, Airdrie remain two points behind Raith Rovers at the top of the table, albeit slipping to third after a 2-2 draw at East Fife two weeks ago.
Smith believes that it’s time for someone to step up in the title race, and sees no reason why the Diamonds can’t be that team.
“We’re confident that we can at least make the play-offs, but our main objective is to win the league and we believe we can do it.
“We just need to keep plugging away and picking up results. At this point in the season if one team goes on a run they can start slipping away at the top and the gap gets bigger and bigger.”
Stranraer come to the Penny Cars Stadium this weekend, having caused Airdrie plenty of problems on their last visit in September.
Jordan Allan and James Hilton scored the first-half goals to put the Blues 2-0 up, but Smith’s 66th-minute strike sparked a late rally from the Diamonds who secured a draw through Paul McKay’s stoppage-time header and were unlucky not to win it as captain Sean Crighton struck the woodwork.
November’s trip to Stair Park saw a comfortable 2-0 win for Airdrie, with Calum Gallagher and Dale Carrick getting the goals.
Stevie Farrell’s side may be struggling at the foot of the table, but the addition of former Hearts and Ayr United striker Ryan Stevenson could provide a welcome boost in the fight against relegation.
Callum doesn’t expect an easy afternoon, but the 20-year-old hopes to repeat September’s feat of finding the net against the Blues.
“Stranraer are always well organised and hard to break down, but if we get an early goal we’ll be confident of winning the game.
“I haven’t scored since the last game at Forfar, so personally I’d love to get a goal. I thought I played quite well against Hearts in spite of the result, so my confidence is high - I just need a goal to get me going again!
“When you haven’t scored for a wee while it does prey on your mind a wee bit - at the end of the day my job is to score goals so I think I need one soon!”
Manager Ian Murray added “Although we have a good record against Stranraer recently, we must remember that they went 2-0 up in the first game and they’ve had good results against Raith Rovers and others.
“It’s a huge game for us, and we’re delighted to be back to league business.”
Adam Eckersley (calf) is the Diamonds’ only absentee ahead of the match. Andy Ryan returns to the squad after being cup-tied for the trip to Tynecastle.
Referee Barry Cook takes charge of his first Airdrie match this season.
Saturday January 25, 2020
The Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Referee: Barry Cook
Assistants: Stuart Stevenson, Chris Phillips
Issue 15 of matchday magazine Diamonds is available in the Club Shop and around the ground before Saturday’s match. Packed with the usual news, match reports and features, this issue also has a look around the League One grounds after the Scottish Cup weekend. Don't forget to pick up your copy!