April 15, 2022
Airdrieonians vs Dumbarton
Callum Fordyce insists Airdrie are focussed on maintaining their unbeaten form, and what will be will be elsewhere.
The Diamonds trail leaders Cove Rangers by five points at the top of the cinch League 1 table, with three games remaining of the campaign.
The gap had narrowed to three ahead of last weekend’s fixtures, but while Paul Hartley’s side were winning 2-0 at Falkirk, Airdrie could only manage a 2-2 draw at Montrose.
Strikers Callum Smith and Calum Gallagher had twice replied to Blair Lyons goals at Links Park, but a missed penalty and some inspired goalkeeping denied the Diamonds a win.
Skipper Fordyce thought his side deserved more.
“I think obviously there was disappointment in the changing room, but it’s probably the most chances throughout my career that we’ve actually had at Montrose.
“Their goalie’s pulled off maybe four or five really good saves, especially the last one with Gal right at the death - I think that’s a very good save to get down low when Gal’s as close to him.
“It just wasn’t to be. We’re all disappointed, but the positive is we’ve gone up there and created a lot of chances that on another day would win the game.”
While the title race is not yet over, Cove would now need to drop points in two of their three remaining fixtures to miss out.
Airdrie’s 17-match unbeaten run would usually have Ian Murray’s side in a commanding position, but the Toonsers have been similarly relentless.
Fordyce believes credit is due to the Balmoral side in what has been a thrilling contest, but won’t give up until it’s over.
“We’ve been the two best teams in the league, I think if you ask most players in the league they would say that.
“Fair play to Cove, they’re doing the exact same as us, albeit they won on Saturday so it makes our job a lot more difficult.
“We just need to keep plugging away and keep trying to win games. What happens elsewhere is out of our hands and we just need to concentrate on ourselves.”
With Cove Rangers hosting Alloa Athletic on Saturday, Airdrie welcome Dumbarton to the Excelsior for the final meeting between the sides.
Stevie Farrell’s side have found themselves at the wrong end of the table for the majority of the season, but have provided stern opposition whenever they’ve faced the Diamonds.
The opening meeting ended in a 2-2 draw, the balance swinging on a Sam Wardrop red card after Gabby McGill and Rhys McCabe had scored for Airdrie. Late goals from Ryan McGeever and Andy Geggan squared the tie.
An astonishing return fixture saw Salim Kouider-Aïssa’s 96th-minute winner make the difference in a 3-2 home victory, McCabe and Ross McLean trading first half-goals before Dylan Easton’s last-minute stunner was cancelled out by Paul Paton four minutes into stoppage time with the visitors reduced to eight men.
Easton was on the scoresheet again in January’s meeting at the rock, although two disallowed goals prevented the Diamonds adding more shine to the result.
Callum says the close results are a good indication of the Sons’ quality, despite their lowly league position.
“Dumbarton have got a good side, they probably shouldn’t be where they are but they’ve had a lot of injuries to key players.
“They’ve gave us tough games in the past, they’re hard to beat. We just need to make sure that we’re on song and play.
“The last game here was one of the maddest games I’ve ever played in, and I’m sure most of the boys would say that.”
Manager Ian Murray expects the usual tough test against his old club.
“We’ve found the games against them this season very tight, very competitive - very difficult.
“We’re playing against a team that’s fighting for their lives down in that play-off position. They probably need two wins to get themselves out of that, and they’ll be a hard nut to crack.
“We need to be patient, we need to be energetic and we’ll have to have good quality and good tempo to our play.”
The Diamonds boss reported a knock to midfielder Scott Agnew, with Craig Watson still facing fitness checks following illness. Luke Lyons and Salim Kouider-Aïssa remain sidelined, though Kyle MacDonald may be back in contention for Saturday’s match.
Referee Greg Aitken has officiated one other Airdrie match this season; August’s 2-1 home defeat against Falkirk.
Match tickets and livestream access are available using the links below.
Saturday April 16, 2022
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Sean Carr, Chris Rae