January 7, 2022
Airdrieonians vs East Fife
Callum Fordyce believes there’s room for improvement in Airdrie’s performances, despite a perfect points total over the festive period.
The Diamonds made it three wins out of three with home victories over Alloa Athletic and Queen’s Park before securing victory at Dumbarton on Sunday.
Skipper Fordyce is happy that the squad are going into the new year having achieved their Christmas target.
“We knew the games were coming thick and fast, and I think if you set up over the Christmas period even just not to get beaten it would be a good one, but to have nine points out of nine was the objective.
“We knew ourselves, with recent results that we’d had, that we had to bounce back and get a good run of wins going - and luckily enough we’ve done that.”
The third win of that Diamonds run came in the first match of 2022, a 1-0 victory at Dumbarton courtesy of Dylan Easton’s second-half strike.
Coming after two confident home performances - a 3-1 Boxing Day win against Alloa Athletic closely followed by a 1-0 victory over Queen’s Park - defender Fordyce was pleased to dig out a difficult result on the road.
“It was a tough game. If you look at the two performances here at home, I don’t think anybody could argue that we should have won them.
“Sunday showed a different side to our game, which was actually pleasing for a defender to see that we can do the rubbish off the ball and defend well. We’ve always got that bit of quality throughout the team, that if a chance should come we’re going to take it.”
Consecutive 1-0 wins of course also means consecutive clean sheets, which pleased the Diamonds captain.
“It’s something we’ve maybe not had as much as we did last year. Whether it be the way we’re playing this year - it’s very expansive and we are open at times - but from a personal point of view that’s no excuse, we still need to defend better.
“We’ve had a lot of goals that you could say were very avoidable, but we seem like we’re on the right path with two clean sheets so we just need to keep going with that.”
The chance to extend an impressive run comes on Saturday, when East Fife visit the Penny Cars Stadium. The Methil men have had a change in the dug-out since the sides last met, with former Dunfermline Athletic boss Stevie Crawford replacing Darren Young at the helm.
The Fifers sit bottom of the table and have already met with two defeats at the hands of the Diamonds. Calum Gallagher’s double and a fortuitous Scott McGill strike gave Airdrie a 3-0 home win in September, while Gallagher was on the scoresheet again in November, netting the only goal of the game at Bayview.
Fordyce says those results are in the past as the Diamonds aim to continue their momentum against tricky opposition.
“There’s not an easy game in this league. You can’t disrespect any team, but we’ve got to do a job. We’re on a good run.
“East Fife are playing quite well but maybe just not getting the breaks, so it’s going to be a tough game. We’ve got to make sure we turn up and play our game.
“They’re going to come and make it hard for us and they’ll try to play a bit as well, but first and foremost it’s down to us. We can’t get carried away with ourselves, we’re not by any means the finished article, we’ve just got to keep going and always look to improve.”
Manager Ian Murray also sees an upturn in East Fife’s performances, and warns that his side will need to be at their best to get a result.
“They’ve definitely improved in terms of their workrate and the defensive side of it, and I know they’ve struggled to pick up points but they’re a very hard team to break down.
“I expect a really hard game as usual. We’ve done well against East Fife in recent seasons, particularly at our stadium, but I expect a really tough game against a team that is rejuvenated in terms of performances - results maybe haven’t gone their way, but it’ll be a tough game.”
The Diamonds boss is still without defender Luke Lyons and strikers Salim Kouider-Aïssa and Gabby McGill, but was delighted to welcome Josh Kerr back for a brief cameo in Sunday’s win at the moreroom.com Stadium.
Adam Frizzell and Scott McGill are also back in contention following illness, with the latter extending his loan deal at the club earlier this week.
Unfortunately Ian will not be in the dug-out for Saturday’s match, having tested positive for Covid late this week. Scott Agnew and Bryan Prunty will look after first-team affairs in Ian’s absence, and it goes without saying everyone at the club wishes the gaffer all the very best for a swift return.
Referee Graham Grainger officiated the September meeting between the sides, which saw East Fife defender Dan Higgins sent off before the Diamonds recorded a 3-0 victory. The Renfrewshire whistler was also in charge of Airdrie’s 0-0 Premier Sports Cup draw with Queen’s Park in July.
Match attendance information and livestream access are available using the links below.
Saturday January 8, 2022
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Graeme Leslie, David McKniff