July 23, 2021
Queen of the South vs Airdrieonians
Rhys McCabe lit up the Penny Cars Stadium with his setpiece opener against Motherwell, and now the midfielder hopes to help the Diamonds top Group F with a win over his former club Queen of the South.
Airdrie’s victory over their Lanarkshire rivals put them within one win of progression to the Premier Sports Cup knockout rounds, and the Diamonds travel to Palmerston Park on Saturday knowing that claiming the three points in Dumfries will be enough to see them through.
Having played in some big derbies in the past, McCabe was impressed by his first taste of the big Lanarkshire clash.
“It was a good atmosphere. Obviously considering it’s been a long time without fans, to see the fans turn out and to realise what the derby was all about was magic.
“When we came out the atmosphere was great from both sets of supporters, and with that historic background and rivalry adding a little bit of extra spice to the game, it was good to get a win.”
Airdrie showed their attacking intent throughout the meeting with their Premier League opponents, but it took a moment of magic from McCabe to break the deadlock.
With many expecting setpiece specialist Scott Agnew to take the 66th-minute free-kick, 28-year-old McCabe lashed the ball home in some style.
Reflecting on the goal, he said: “Aggy and Dylan have hit one or two already this season, and I said to Aggy that I was confident I could get it up and down over the wall, and with the sun I had a good chance.
“With a good strike, the moment it leaves your foot you have that sense that you’ve caught it well - and I knew when I hit it that I had a chance.”
Following draws with Annan Athletic and Queen’s Park - and a bonus point in the latter courtesy of a penalty shoot-out win, Airdrie have six points on the board. A win would see the Diamonds top the table with nine.
McCabe says the side’s unbeaten form bodes well for the season ahead.
“It’s a good platform to build on, we’ve not lost a game in 90 minutes. If we can take that into the league then you build that momentum and before you know it Christmas time comes and the games come thick and fast - and if you’ve racked up a few points then you’re on the right track.
“We’re on a high coming off a massive result, but it’s important to put that to bed now with Saturday’s fixture in our hands to go through top of the group.”
That fixture is of course an away meeting with Championship side Queen of the South, Rhys’s most recent club before his summer switch to Airdrie.
The former Scotland under-21 star explained his reasons for making the move.
“I loved it there, it’s a good club with loads of good people around the place, but for me I was at a different stage of my career.
“They have a lot of young kids trying to break through, and the massive turnover of players at my stage in my career was a factor in me leaving.
“I felt that Airdrie were in a position that they’re looking to go and challenge for the league - obviously they’re at the right end of the table.”
Manager Ian Murray wants to build on previous results.
“It was a fantastic win going into the last League Cup game, so we go into it full of confidence.
“That’s not just about Wednesday night, against Annan we got a draw - we weren’t brilliant, but we were okay - and at Queen’s Park we put in a really solid performance with a depleted squad.
“It’s been a really good League Cup for us so far, but we need to now progress that and try to get into the next round.”
Unfortunately attendance to the match at Palmerston Park is restricted to home fans only, but you can watch the live stream using the link below. Queen of the South have asked that fans register and purchase the stream in plenty of time to avoid problems.
Saturday July 24, 2021
Palmerston Park, Dumfries
David McGeachie, Colin Drummond