February 18, 2022
Peterhead vs Airdrieonians
Craig Watson insists Airdrie can’t afford to let their standards slip as the Diamonds prepare to face Peterhead on Saturday.
Defender Watson was in the thick of the action at the other end of the pitch when Airdrie registered an impressive 4-1 win over Montrose last weekend, grabbing his first goal for the club in style after coming off the bench at half-time.
It was a highlight of a big week for the 27-year-old, who had gone through dental surgery days before the match - and celebrated his birthday the day after it.
The former East Fife man was understandably pleased with his strike - and the result.
“I was delighted first and foremost that the team got a win against third-place - it was important to try and distance ourselves from them, and I was able to contribute so I was delighted!
“Brody’s done excellent down the left-hand side and cut it back. I believe it was Frizz who was about to step onto it, and I’ve screamed as loudly as I can ‘LEAVE IT!’, so he’s pulled his foot away at the last minute and it’s just sat up perfectly for me.”
Last week wasn’t just a busy one for Watson, manager Ian Murray was also hard at work as he filled the remaining loan spaces in the Diamonds squad.
Midfielder Justin Devenny and striker Jon Afolabi both made cameos against Montrose after joining the club on Friday, and with Kyle MacDonald and Brody Paterson also coming in during the winter window, Watson was glad to see the squad strengthened.
“The squad’s grown in the window, the gaffer’s brought in a few new players. It’s good, it’s healthy for everyone - no-one can be complacent.
“Everyone’s now got competition in every single position, so it’s only good for the squad coming into the business end of the season.”
With Saturday’s victory bringing Airdrie within five points of leaders Cove Rangers, the cinch League 1 campaign continues this weekend with a tricky tie at Peterhead.
The Balmoor side have slipped to ninth in the table, but have games in hand over those around them.
Watson knows the Diamonds will need to keep up their high performance levels in order to get a result.
“It’s an excellent grass pitch up there, but it’s a tough a place to go. That was the game I missed earlier in the season with Covid, so it’ll be good getting back up there, it’s a lovely place to play.
“They’re just another team that we’ve got to beat, it’s as simple as that.
“On their day every team is capable of getting a result in this league against anyone, so we’ve got to make sure that we’re bringing our A-game and everyone is at minimum applying 100% effort. Then hopefully the football will take care of itself.”
Although the trip to Aberdeenshire is the longest that Airdrie face this season, the players have been impressed by the terrific vocal backing from the support both home and away.
Craig believes the Diamonds faithful can roar the team to success.
“We’ve just got to try and stay positive and be patient. There has been games where we’ve been drawing and we’ve had to fight late into the games and get the goals towards the final third or final quarter of the game.
“The support is massive, and hopefully they can keep it going into the final bit of the season.”
Diamonds boss Ian Murray got a close look at Saturday’s opponents when their Scottish Cup match against Dundee was televised earlier this week.
“They’re a decent side, it’s never an easy place to go. I felt 3-0 flattered Dundee, and I think Peterhead can hold their heads up high. They were very well set up and very aggressive as usual.
“We go into it in a different set of circumstances - people are probably expecting Airdrie to win on Saturday, so we have to handle that. I’ve got no doubt the boys will, they’re in a really good place at the moment and they’re playing really well.”
The manager also reported that Kyle MacDonald is likely to join Luke Lyons and Salim Kouider-Aïssa on the sidelines after picking up an ankle knock against Montrose. With a number of other players struggling with illness this week, there will be late checks made on the squad.
It’s another refereeing first for the Diamonds, with whistler Stewart Luke taking charge of his first Airdrie match.
For those unable to make the trip north, hosts Peterhead are streaming the match on their PPV service. Access is available using the link below.
Saturday February 19, 2022
Balmoor Stadium, Peterhead
Steven Traynor, Robert Bowie