November 19, 2021
Airdrieonians vs Cove Rangers
Craig Watson believes there’s more to come from Airdrie as the table-topping Diamonds welcome second-placed Cove Rangers to the Penny Cars Stadium this weekend.
The ground plays host to cinch League 1’s match of the day with only a point separating Ian Murray’s side from their Aberdeenshire visitors ahead of Saturday’s intriguing showdown.
After climbing to the top of the table two weeks ago, Airdrie maintained their position with a 1-0 win at East Fife last Saturday. Defender Watson enjoyed his return to his old stomping ground, having joined the Diamonds from the Fifers in the summer.
“It was good being back, I was speaking to a lot of the staff before the game and after the game and it was good to see a lot of the faces I’ve known for the past three or four seasons.
“We did deserve to win the game. I think for the small part that we had to defend, we were very solid, but for the rest of the game we were quality on the ball.
“It was a great performance all round. Back to front, from Max up to Gal, it was excellent.”
Striker Calum Gallagher scored the only goal of the game at Bayview, though Watson played his part in the build-up as the Diamonds put together a move consisting of 25 passes before applying the killer touch.
The 26-year-old is pleased to be involved in the goals - but would love to get on the scoresheet himself having already set up a few this season.
“I think it was over the course of a few games in a row that I got the assists, and I’d like to continue that on - they’ve dipped down the past few games.
“I’d also like to chip in with a goal, I’ve been disappointed I’ve not had one. It’s good to get an assist, and I’m not expecting to score every week - but I will definitely be looking to get a goal or two before the end of the season!”
With Paul Hartley’s Cove Rangers side coming to town on Saturday, Airdrie will be looking for a reverse of September’s result at the Balmoral Stadium, when an 89th-minute Morgyn Neill header settled the tie in favour of the home side.
While Watson admits it would be nice for Airdrie to get their own back for that result, the Diamonds are focussed on the bigger picture.
“It’s good to have the revenge idea in your head, but you want to get that out your head and be very professional. Over this week I’m sure the gaffer will lay down the gameplan for us and go through it, so we’ll know how we’re going to approach the game.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, be it lower teams in the league or the team that’s one point behind you, you’ve just got to give it 100%, have that gameplan and execute it properly.”
And although Airdrie’s run of results - seven wins out of the last nine - have propelled the Diamonds to the top of the league, Craig says the squad are still striving to improve their performances.
“It’s a great team spirit in there, really professional. Even after the Fife game where we’ve had a pretty convincing win, albeit it was only 1-0, we weren’t happy with everything - constructive criticism was being thrown around by everyone, which is good.
“I’m confident I can speak on behalf of the team by saying we know we can actually play better, even though we’ve been getting the results.”
Manager Ian Murray knows from experience how close the matches have been between the sides since Cove’s promotion from League 2.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, they’re a good side. All the games we’ve played against Cove have been really tight.
“We expect a really, really hard game, but we expect that every week. We know if we play to our capabilities like we did on Saturday, we’re a very difficult team to beat - but we also know if we drop our standards, drop our tempo, urgency and energy with and without the ball, then anything can happen.
“It’s a great game for us all to be involved in.”
The Diamonds boss is confident of having defender Luke Lyons and striker Gabby McGill back in contention for Saturday’s match, but admits that Josh Kerr and Salim Kouider-Aïssa are both still struggling with injury.
Referee Craig Napier is in charge of the top-of-the-table clash, his first Airdrie match of the current season.
Match tickets and livestream access are available using the links below.
Saturday November 20, 2021
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Graham Chambers, Barry Reid