May 6, 2022
Airdrieonians vs Montrose
Dylan Easton says confidence is high in the Airdrie camp as the Diamonds attempt to turn around a 1-0 deficit in Saturday’s promotion play-off semi-final second leg.
Montrose secured the win after Craig Johnston capitalised on an early defensive error, but Airdrie worked hard to keep the tie alive ahead of this weekend’s return fixture at the Excelsior.
Easton went into the match after a successful weekend in which he won both the club’s Player of the Year award and the PFA Scotland League 1 Player of the Year trophy.
The 28-year-old midfielder says Tuesday’s disappointment is in the past, and the Diamonds are fully focussed on Saturday’s match.
“I think we started very slow. It’s not like us, I think all season we’ve shown in games that we like to get off to a flyer, we like to put teams right under pressure from the start.
“It was the other way round, to be fair - Montrose started a lot better than us, they came out the traps and we never really got to grips with it towards the start.
“15-20 minutes in we started getting to grips with the game and we started to create a bit more. It’s only half-time and we’re looking forward to Saturday now.”
Airdrie did manage to create a number of chances after that early blow, but an equaliser remained out of reach on the night.
Despite an unfavourable result in the first leg, Easton is confident that the Diamonds can rise to the occasion at the weekend.
“We’re calm, we’re fully confident. Regardless of the result up at Montrose we’d have had to come back here and win the game.
“On Tuesday I didn’t think we got that rhythm or got that click, but come Saturday I’m sure the boys will be ready - and it’ll be a different Airdrie, that’s for sure.”
As well as being confident that he and his team-mates will be back to their best on Saturday, Dylan also appreciates that a large home support can play its part.
“They’ve been unbelievable all season, travelling up to Peterhead and Cove and they’ve been behind us. It’s been an incredible season and we need them all there on Saturday for that final push.
“They came up in their numbers on Tuesday, I know it was a disappointing result but as I say, it’s only half-time. The more they get behind us on Saturday, it’ll push us on. It’s like a 12th man.
“Any other season, you go 20 games unbeaten, you win a league title. Full credit to Cove, we wish them all the best, but we’ll be fully ready come Saturday and hopefully they get behind us and we can put on a show.”
Manager Ian Murray expects his side to get back to the performance levels that put them 13 points clear in second place at the end of the league season.
“The good thing is we’re well in the tie and we’re back down to our pitch, and we have a good record here.
“We have to trust the players - they’ve been excellent all season, they’ve been tremendous at home all season, they’ve shown high energy all season - and we ask them now to give us one more.
“We know this game’s all about win or bust, we understand that we have to win the game - it’s black and white which is actually a good thing, because it can be even more nervy when you’re maybe 0-0 or 1-1 and it can go either way - but we know what we’ve got to do and the players will be doing absolutely everything to do that.”
Kyle MacDonald faces a late fitness check following an ankle knock in Tuesday’s match, but aside from long-term injury victims Luke Lyons and Salim Kouider-Aïssa, the Diamonds boss has a full squad to choose from.
Referee Alan Newlands has taken charge of one other Airdrie match this season, November’s 1-0 win at East Fife.
Admission and streaming prices have been reduced for Saturday’s fixture. You can purchase match tickets and livestream access using the links below - remember that season tickets are not valid for this fixture.
Saturday May 7, 2022
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Graeme Stewart, Gary Hilland