May 17, 2021
Airdrieonians vs Morton
Sean Crighton believes the Diamonds faithful can inspire Airdrie as the captain prepares to welcome his hometown team Morton to the Penny Cars Stadium for Tuesday’s Championship play-off final.
The Greenock side come to Airdrie for the first leg of the promotion tussle before Friday’s second leg at Cappielow, and the Diamonds will play in front of a crowd for the first time this season with 500 fans in attendance.
Club captain Crighton played a part in the dramatic win that took Airdrie to the final, returning from injury as a half-time substitute as the Diamonds saw off Cove Rangers in extra time last week.
The 31-year-old was pleased to make his comeback.
“It’s been frustrating, but the boys have gone out and produced so I’ve just had to wait for my chance - being captain doesn’t make a difference in that regard, I’ve had to bide my time and help out off the park.
“It was good to get back on against Cove Rangers, it’s just unfortunate for big Josh who has been brilliant since he came back. All the subs made an impact that night, and that’s how it’s been for us recently - everyone has been ready to contribute when called upon.”
The match itself was finely balanced at the point of Crighton’s reintroduction. Following a 1-1 draw at Cove the previous weekend, the sides were still level at half-time with Mitch Megginson and Calum Gallagher exchanging goals.
A stoppage-time Rory McAllister strike looked to have sealed the win for the Aberdeen side, but Jack McKay’s last-gasp equaliser saw the match into extra time, where Gallagher’s second of the evening proved decisive.
Defender Crighton praised the Diamonds for refusing to give up.
“They don’t come much more exciting than that! Cove are a good side, they’ve done really well and consistently been one of the better teams in the league, so we knew they were going to come down and give us a game.
“The late goal was a sucker punch, but there’s a belief within the group that we’re not getting beat and we got our reward. I just threw myself forward, the keeper’s clattered into me and Jack’s done well to put it in. Gal’s then done the business in extra-time and it felt amazing to walk away with the win.”
With Morton also grabbing an extra-time win over Montrose in the other semi-final, a mouthwatering two-legged final awaits.
Crighton has had close ties with the Cappielow side in the past, featuring in playing and coaching roles with his hometown side. He’s relishing the chance to face them with promotion at stake.
“I’m buzzing about it, to be honest. That’s always going to be the case with a play-off final, but on a personal level there’s that wee bit extra in this one for me, being from Greenock.
“A few of my pals are season ticket holders at Morton so I’ve been getting plenty of messages - but my focus is on getting Airdrie back up where they belong. We’ve put so much into it over the years, and we’re so happy to finally have that chance. It’s just about finishing the job now.”
Sean is hopeful that the Diamonds can extend their recent run of outstanding results and once again put a smile on the faces of the Airdrie faithful.
“It’s a final, so form tends to go out the window, but I think the momentum is definitely with us. Morton will be tough to crack, they’ve been playing against good players in the Championship all season.
“We need to approach Tuesday night with confidence and try to get a good result at home. It’s been a long, hard season for the fans watching on streams, and it’s brilliant to have them back in - they can be the 12th man for us and hopefully we can reward their support.”
Diamonds boss Ian Murray is also looking forward to the tie.
“Of course it’s a very hard game for us, but it’s a great occasion for everyone involved.
“We go into the match with nothing to fear - we’re on good form and we look to continue that.”
A number of players will continue to have their condition monitored in the run-up to Tuesday’s match, with the manager only ruling out defender Joshua Burke and strikers Kyle Connell and Patrick Pyott.
David Munro is the referee for Tuesday’s first leg, which kicks off at 7:35pm.
The match will be televised live on BBC Alba, but our DTVLive stream is available for anyone without access.
Tuesday May 18, 2021
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Dougie Potter, Graeme Leslie