February 25, 2022
Airdrieonians vs Clyde
Jon Afolabi opened his Airdrie account in his first start against Peterhead, and the Irish striker wants to keep that form going when Clyde visit the Penny Cars Stadium this weekend.
The Diamonds ground out a win at Balmoor to extend their unbeaten league run to ten matches, with Afolabi netting the only goal of the game.
The Celtic loanee had made a substitute appearance in the 4-1 win over Montrose the previous weekend, but was handed a start at Balmoor and repaid the manager’s decision.
“I was delighted to get my first goal obviously, and it was a great performance at a tough place to go as the lads were saying earlier, so it was just vital to get the victory.
“It was good that the gaffer showed trust in me and faith to play me so early. That’s what I’m here for really, to take the chances that I’m given, so it was a great start.”
With the home side performing well throughout, it needed something special to grab victory for Airdrie and keep the pressure on league leaders Cove Rangers.
Afolabi delivered with his 28th-minute strike, and he was pleased with his first goal in Airdrie colours.
“I don’t really remember it too much, I haven’t watched it back! It was just one that dropped in the box, Rhys played it to me and I only had a second to choose what I was going to do, and I opted to pass it in instead of slashing at it from where I was - so it was a nice composed finish.
“The weight of pass from Rhys helped a lot. It was along the ground so I just opened up and had a second to look at the goal and assess what I was going to do. I was just delighted to get it in the back of the net!”
The 22-year-old will be keen to keep his name on the teamsheet, and he feels there were promising early signs of a potent partnership with fellow striker Calum Gallagher.
“It was very good, it was a good first game to play with a very experienced player.
“He talked to me throughout the whole game, he kept me switched on and let me know where I was supposed to be, so it helped a lot with the first game.”
With ten games remaining in the cinch League 1 campaign, the Diamonds will be hoping to keep their winning run going to increase the stakes in the title race.
Clyde visit the Penny Cars Stadium on Saturday, only a month after the sides last met at Broadwood.
The points were shared on that occasion as Rob Jones and Billy Mortimer replied to goals from Dylan Easton and Jordan Allan.
Airdrie were victorious in October’s home match, Callum Smith and Calum Gallagher grabbing the goals either side of a David Goodwillie penalty.
Jon may not have come up against the Bully Wee yet, but he knows what is required to keep the pressure up.
“I haven’t been around too long to know what other teams are like! We have to be on it, and we can’t really drop off the standards that we’ve set.
“I think we just take it game by game and try to get as many wins as possible.”
Manager Ian Murray says Clyde will be no pushovers as the Diamonds look to keep the pressure on Cove Rangers at the top of the table.
“I think it’s maybe gone under the radar how good a run they’ve been on in general. They had a wee sticky patch towards the start of the season, but I think they’ve went ten games with one defeat.
“They know how to battle and dig in - they’ve got good experience in their squad and they’ve got dangerous players upfront as we saw in the last game at Broadwood.
“We just have to keep going, keep trying to win games, and the boys have been great so far. We continue that on Saturday hopefully, all we can do is control our own performances and see where we are at the end of the season.”
The manager welcomes strikers Callum Smith and Gabby McGill back to the squad after the pair missed the Peterhead trip through illness. Kyle MacDonald remains sidelined alongside Luke Lyons and Salim Kouider-Aïssa.
Referee Calum Scott has been in charge of two cinch League 1 matches involving Airdrie this season - August’s 3-2 win at Peterhead and the 0-0 away draw with Queen’s Park in September.
Match tickets and livestream access are available using the links below.
Saturday February 26, 2022
Penny Cars Stadium, Airdrie
Chris Rae, Graham Chambers