October 6, 2020
Airdrieonians vs Alloa Athletic
Sean Crighton says the Diamonds are ready for action as the competitive season gets underway against Alloa Athletic tomorrow - seven months to the day after a ball was last kicked in anger.
Nobody knew at the time that the 1-0 home victory over East Fife in March would be the last action of a curtailed SPFL season, but the club has used the lengthy close-season to bring in a number of exciting new players, and club captain Crighton says the squad are raring to go ahead of the Betfred Cup Group H opener.
“We’re all looking forward to it, and we’re going into it with some momentum from pre-season. That’s massive, no matter who the opposition is.
“We were a hard team to beat last season, so it’s important to keep that going and our preparations have been good. The Betfred Cup games give us a chance to take that energy into what’s going to be a shortened league campaign.”
Crighton was appointed as first-team coach over the summer months, and the 30-year-old defender is revelling in the role.
“I’ve been trying to take it in my stride as much as possible - I’m helping the manager out wherever possible and I’ve been having a lot of discussions with the gaffer and Prunts.
“Obviously the boys can still speak to me as their captain and team-mate as well, so it hasn’t been a massive change that way. I’ve been really enjoying it since we came back.”
Championship side Alloa Athletic are the season’s first visitors to the Penny Cars Stadium, and the side now managed by former Celtic star Peter Grant have thrived since their promotion - which came via a play-off win over the Diamonds.
There are plenty of familiar faces in the Wasps squad, with no fewer than six former Diamonds in the first team, including Neil Parry, Adam Brown and Alan Trouten.
Crighton counts a few of those players among his former team-mates, and he knows that Airdrie face a difficult 90 minutes on Wednesday evening.
“We’re expecting a tough game, but we can take confidence from our performance against Queen of the South - and to be honest Queen’s Park have signed a lot of players who could easily play in the Championship.
“We did well in those games, and we need to take that into tomorrow night’s match. There will be an extra edge because it is competitive and it’s in the cup and there are a lot of ex-Airdrie players.
“Alloa have been a consistently solid side over the years, but if we go about our business properly I don’t see why we can’t get the win. We’ve got a decent squad assembled now, and hopefully we can take our form into tomorrow night.”
Manager Ian Murray is also desperate to get the season underway.
“We’re looking forward to the game. It’s our first competitive match after a long break, but we go into on the back of a hard pre-season schedule.
“Alloa will be a tough test coming from the Championship, but we’re ready for them and we really can’t wait to get going.”
The Diamonds boss has eight new summer signings hopeful of a competitive debut, but loanee Kyle Connell will not be available - the striker doesn’t join up with the squad until after tomorrow’s match. Harlain Mbayo also faces a fitness test ahead of the match, which kicks off at 7:45pm.
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Wednesday October 7, 2020
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Graham McNeillie, Elliott Husband Powton