March 11, 2022
Falkirk vs Airdrieonians
Gabby McGill returned to the Airdrie starting XI last weekend, and the striker wants to put his injury woes well and truly behind him with a win at Falkirk.
The Englishman made a strong start to his Diamonds career, scoring in four of his first six appearances for the club, before a series of unfortunate knocks left him playing catch-up.
The latest of those came against Clyde in December, in a match which was ultimately abandoned due to fog - after McGill had scored twice.
He described the injury which kept him sidelined for the best part of three months.
“When it first happened I thought the worst, I was in a lot of pain. I ended up going for a scan and it turns out I fractured my shin in three places, one of them being quite deep.
“That was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, however you’d rather fracture your shin than do a ligament in terms of time to come back. Within 8-9 weeks I was running again, so it wasn’t too bad.”
Having made a full recovery, McGill was reintroduced from the bench a fortnight ago - and found the net against Clyde yet again.
The 21-year-old was back in the starting line-up for last weekend’s 2-0 win at Alloa, and is delighted to be back in contention.
“It’s been great the past couple of weeks, training every day and getting minutes on the weekend - that’s why you’re a footballer, it’s why you play.
“I was obviously excited to start a game and knowing that I was going to get minutes under my belt - and I felt good, I felt sharp. I maybe did hit a brick wall about the hour-mark, but I was speaking to some of the lads and they reminded me that it was my first start in 11 weeks.
“It’s going to come, and I’ll get fitter and stronger and everything like that.”
With competition for places upfront intensifying at the business end of the season, McGill is happy to fight for the right to pull on the Diamond.
“Big Jon’s come in, Gal, Smithy, Nacho… there’s a whole good bunch of strikers and everyone’s got the ability to score goals.
“It only strengthens the squad and it really makes the people that start fight for their place. I think that’s been proven by the amount of goals and the strikers that have been scoring.”
The form of Airdrie’s frontmen is a good problem for manager Ian Murray to have ahead of another tricky tie at the Falkirk Stadium.
The Bairns were victorious in the season’s first meeting between the clubs, Callumn Morrison and Aidan Keena netting before McGill’s consolation.
Airdrie were triumphant at The Falkirk Stadium in October, with goals from Dylan Easton, Callum Smith and Josh Kerr handing the Diamonds an impressive 3-0 win.
Airdrie also bagged three goals when the fixture returned to the Excelsior in January, Callum Fordyce, Scott McGill and Calum Gallagher on the scoresheet, but this time goals from Brad McKay and Anton Dowds made it a tighter affair.
Gabby says the Westfield side must not be underestimated ahead of Saturday’s clash.
“I think Dycey came out and said a couple of weeks ago that every game’s a cup final for us now.
“We all know the quality that Falkirk do possess and the players that they have - they can just turn it on. They’ve got creative players in that midfield, they’ve got people who can just score goals out of nowhere so we definitely need to stay clued up and make sure we get the job done.
“We’ve done alright against them this year, so hopefully the same again. All the boys are confident - a good week of training under our belt and we’ll go again on Saturday.”
Manager Ian Murray hopes to continue the good form that has seen his side unbeaten in 12 league matches, but he too is aware of the threat that Martin Rennie’s men pose.
“They’re trying to get in those play-offs, and it’s going to be a really hard game.
“We’re going for one thing, they’re going for another. We’ve got ourselves in a position where there’s disappointment if we don’t win games, but Falkirk need to win games - it’s that harsh reality for them.
“We go there full of confidence, full of buzz, energy and workrate, and hopefully we’ll come out on top.”
The Diamonds boss is again without defenders Kyle MacDonald and Luke Lyons alongside striker Salim Kouider-Aïssa, but otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from.
Lloyd Wilson referees his first Airdrie match since the opening day defeat to Montrose.
Match tickets and streaming access are available using the links below. Falkirk have advised that their online ticketing system is undergoing intermittent problems, and have assured fans that cash gates will be in operation for anyone unable to purchase online. Airdrie fans will be situated in the North Stand and should enter via turnstiles 11 and 12.
Saturday March 12, 2022
The Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk
Ralph Gordon, Brian Christie