August 26, 2022
Dunfermline Athletic vs Airdrieonians
Airdrie and Dunfermline are tied at the top of the table after similar early results, and Craig Watson says the Diamonds have every chance of victory at East End Park.
The Pars have had a strong start to their League 1 campaign after dropping down from the Championship following play-off defeat in the summer, but with three wins and a draw apiece Airdrie are currently ahead on goal difference.
Defender Watson insists the Diamonds have nothing to fear as their talented young squad make the journey to East End Park - with the former East Fife man one of the elder statesmen at the grand old age of 27.
“Myself and Gal, outwith the management, are the two oldest in the squad. I’m enjoying it, I like it.
“It’s a young squad we’ve got, but there’s so much talent in it. Young players like Justin, it’s hard to believe they’re 18 the way they act on and off the pitch.”
Having featured primarily at full-back in his first season in the Diamond, Watson has thrived in the centre of defence this year - and explains that the role is different to that in a flat back four.
“Speaking to the now gaffer in the off-season, he spoke to me about how he sees me as a centre-back, but with the style that we play it’s not your traditional centre-back.
“Me and Dycey are splitting, looking to get on the ball - which I love to do - and I do like to still get forward!”
That willingness to join the attack paid off last weekend as Airdrie beat Alloa Athletic 2-0 at the Excelsior, with Watson’s pinpoint pass finding the run of Gabby McGill who lashed home the opening goal.
‘Janny’ was pleased to grab an assist as the Diamonds’ unbeaten run continued.
“A lot of people thought it was a clearance! No, it was good - great movement from Gabby. I saw him going in behind Durnan and thankfully the pass has worked.
“We’ve had so many chances this season going astray, so it was good seeing him being nice and confident in front of goal and burying it.”
So with only four league matches played, the stage is already set for a top-of-the-table clash at East End Park on Saturday.
While James McPake’s side have not grabbed as many goals as Airdrie, the Pars defence has been the meanest in the league with no goals conceded to date.
The Diamonds will have to break that record to take maximum points from the fixture, and Craig believes they can do it.
“It’s a big game - that’s what you look forward to. It’s just down to us to go and play our game and try to play how we want to.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, it’s just another game. Even though they’re in the same form as us, there’s no reason for us not to go there and get a win.”
Manager Rhys McCabe spent two seasons with the Pars earlier in his career, and knows very well that the trip to East End Park will be a typically hard one.
“Every game in this league is tough. A lot of places you go, they’ve got good home records and Dunfermline will be no different.
“I was obviously there for a period myself, and I know what their support is like. It’ll be a difficult game.
“They’ve started really well and they haven’t conceded a goal yet, so that just goes to show that the level of performance they’ve had has been really strong.”
The player-manager was pleased to report that Gabby McGill has suffered no ill effects from a blow to the ribs which saw the striker withdrawn at half-time in the win over Alloa.
Goalkeeper Josh Rae continues to work on his rehab on the shoulder injury which has seen him sidelined for five weeks, and Dean McMaster has resumed full training after being given the all-clear by a specialist.
Grant Irvine referees his first Airdrie tie of the season.
Match tickets and information are available using the link below.
Saturday August 27, 2022
East End Park, Dunfermline
John McCrossan, Tommi Kerr