May 7, 2021
Cove Rangers vs Airdrieonians
Diamonds defender Callum Fordyce is proud of Airdrie’s achievement ahead of an exciting play-off meeting with Cove.
Last season’s Player of the Year has shown typical rock-steady form at the heart of the defence as a phenomenal run of results saw Airdrie finish as League One runners-up, just two points behind champions Partick Thistle.
The 28-year-old is delighted with the way the Diamonds have reversed their fortunes.
“Obviously we’ve been on a good run of form and it was nice to finish with a win - I think that’s the club’s highest league position since 2007 so it’s a massive achievement for the boys. Five weeks ago we were in seventh place, so the turnaround has been massive.
“A lot of credit has to go the gaffer as well as the players. We were getting written off and getting dogs abuse, and the manager has brought the right players in and changed the shape and it’s worked for us.”
Airdrie’s second-place finish was confirmed on Tuesday evening with a 2-0 win over Falkirk. The Diamonds left it late, with Craig Thomson opening the score in the 88th minute before Kyle Turner added a stoppage time second.
Fordyce believes it was the right result.
“If you look at the stats, we totally deserved the win. We didn’t start too brightly, but overall Max hasn’t had a save to make.
“The fact you’re already in the play-offs is in the back of your mind, but you still want to go and win every game and in my eyes there was only one team that was going to win on Tuesday.”
Former Livingston and Dunfermline man Fordyce has captained the side to three wins and two clean sheets in the absence of the injured Sean Crighton, but insists that it doesn’t affect his performance.
“I’ve learned a lot playing beside big Sean as the captain, but my role in the team doesn’t change just because I’m wearing the armband.
“I’ve been captain at other clubs, and I do enjoy it, but it doesn’t change who I am on the pitch.”
Diamonds fans will be hoping that the defence will be as mean tomorrow afternoon when the first leg of the play-off semi-final kicks off at Balmoral Park.
Tuesday’s win saw Airdrie pip Cove Rangers to second place after Paul Hartley’s side had held the runners-up spot for a number of weeks.
It’s a familiar trip for the Diamonds, who were victorious in Aberdeen just one week ago. Calum Gallagher and Dean Ritchie got the second half goals to ensure a 2-0 win on that occasion, but Dycey is expecting a different proposition this time round.
“Looking at the last game, Cove changed shape and the intensity of the game wasn’t great - they had already played three games that week so were maybe a bit flat.
“You know how football works, it can change in a matter of seconds - but both teams know what’s at stake so it should be a really entertaining game. Both teams want to play football and get the ball forward, so it’ll be fast-paced and exciting.”
“The run that we’re on gives you the confidence you need when you step on the park. What we’ve achieved since the restart just shows how far we’ve come as a team and as a squad, so we’ve every right to be confident going into these games.”
Manager Ian Murray doesn’t believe there’s much between the sides, as the final league table suggests.
“It’s going to be a very tough match between two evenly matched teams.
“The boys are full of confidence after a tremendous run of results, so we go there in good form. As always, we want to keep that run going by winning the next game.”
There was good news for the Diamonds boss at training this week with Sean Crighton, Euan O’Reilly and Dean Ritchie all taking part after picking up knocks in recent weeks.
Harlain Mbayo and Patrick Pyott will miss out.
Referee David Dickinson takes charge of the crunch tie, his first Airdrie fixture of the season.
You can watch the match live on Cove Rangers’ CRFC TV streaming platform using the link below.
Saturday May 8, 2021
Balmoral Stadium, Aberdeen
Andrew McWilliam, Gordon Crawford