April 29, 2022
Airdrieonians vs Peterhead
The Diamonds enter the cinch Championship play-offs next week, but Justin Devenny insists his focus is on Saturday’s match against Peterhead.
The Blue Toon are the visitors in Airdrie’s last match of the regular league season before the Diamonds face Montrose home and away in the crunch promotion ties.
Kilmarnock loanee Devenny made his first Airdrie start in last weekend’s 5-0 win over Clyde in the Bully Wee’s final match at Broadwood.
Having put in a strong performance in the middle of the park, the central midfielder will be hoping for another starting berth when Jim McInally’s side visit the Excelsior Stadium on Saturday.
Devenny was pleased with his first start in senior football.
“I was delighted to be fair, just getting on the pitch. It’s obviously been a long time since I’ve played 90 minutes so I was buzzing.
“It was a great game to come into, five goals and the team are flying. Personally I would have liked to have got on the ball a wee bit more, but I’m still really happy how it went.
“I do feel as if I have more to give, but at the end of the day we won 5-0 and I was pleased enough with my performance.”
Having arrived on loan from Rugby Park in February, Devenny has had to wait patiently for his first start as consistency of team selection proved key to a winning run which saw the Diamonds push eventual title-winners Cove Rangers all the way.
It hasn’t stopped the 18-year-old enjoying his time at the club - and learning his trade from a winning midfield.
“I feel as if when I’ve played, I’ve done well and I’ve done well in training. Right now it’s hard for a young boy to come into such a good team, so I’m happy - I love it here, to be fair!
“Obviously the captain, Dycey, always keeps me grounded - but even watching people in my positions like Aggy, Easty and Frizz in the middle of the park, cruising and dominating games, it’s good - I can learn a lot from just watching them.”
Peterhead provide the opposition for Saturday’s final league match of the cinch League 1 campaign, and the Diamonds have the chance to beat the club’s unbeaten league record of 19 games.
The Blue Toon have achieved a comfortable mid-table finish, and although Airdrie have come out on top of all three meetings so far, none have been easy.
August’s meeting at Balmoor saw an Airdrie squad blighted by Covid come away with an impressive 3-2 win, Rhys McCabe’s double and Gabby McGill’s goal putting the Diamonds in a commanding position before late goals from Scott Brown and Russell McLean made for a nervy finish.
Ian Murray’s side were three-up again at the Excelsior in November, Dylan Easton, Kerr McInroy and Callum Smith on the scoresheet, but the visitors again grabbed a late goal through Max Currie’s unfortunate OG.
Back in Aberdeenshire in February, Jon Afolabi scored the only goal of the game as the Diamonds brought a hard-earned three points down the road.
With the club’s final league position settled and the play-offs looming, the playing squad could be forgiven for having one eye on next week’s big matches - but Justin says he’s only concentrating on Saturday’s final regular season fixture.
“Right now we’re just focussing on the weekend.
“If I get on, or if I start, I’ll just do my best - and hopefully as a team we can still put in a good performance.”
Having equalled the club’s unbeaten record of 19 league games, Ian Murray would love to go one better on Saturday - but the Diamonds boss won’t take any risks with his players.
“We’d love to go 20 games - it’s the last game of the season and also an opportunity to take 12 points off an opposition team in one season.
“Those are the factors we look at on the positive side, but I’m not going to sacrifice potential injuries or a red card to key players going into the playoffs.
“Peterhead have done remarkably well this season, we’ve found the games against them really tough.
“They’ll come down here full of energy and belief that they can win the game. We have to be cautious of how good they can be on their day.”
Craig Watson, Scott Agnew and Gabby McGill all played some part in training this week following their injuries, and their progress continues to be monitored.
Luke Lyons and Salim Kouider-Aïssa remain sidelined for the Diamonds.
Referee Gavin Duncan has officiated one other Airdrie match this season, the recent 1-1 home draw with Cove Rangers.
Match tickets and livestream access are available using the links below.
Saturday April 30, 2022
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Scott Anderson, John Stewart