December 2, 2022
Falkirk vs Airdrieonians
Rhys McCabe expects an intriguing match-up at the Falkirk Stadium as the Diamonds and the Bairns come face to face with both on an upturn of form.
After a strong run of results, Falkirk are currently Dunfermline’s closest challenger at the top of the cinch League 1 table, but Airdrie have closed the gap to three points as a tightly-fought campaign nears the halfway point.
The Diamonds were on a four-match unbeaten run themselves ahead of last week’s break for Scottish Cup action, and while John McGlynn’s side were racking up an impressive 6-0 win away to Wick Academy, Airdrie went toe-to-toe with Dundee - the highest ranked side in the competition at that stage.
A stoppage-time red card left the Diamonds up against it, and the Championship side eventually eased to a 6-2 extra-time win, but McCabe was happy with his side’s display over 90 minutes.
“It was a good test for us as I said previously, a good opportunity for us to go and really test ourselves against a good club and a good team. We more than did that.
“First half I thought was a game that both teams cancelled each other out, and obviously in the second half the game to started to open up a bit. I asked the lads to be a little bit more brave in terms of the way that we wanted to play. I think the performance in the second half was excellent.”
Although in previous seasons a home replay would have been on the cards, the cup exit yielded plenty of positives - not least professional debuts for youngsters Alasdair Spalding, Dylan Watt and Dom Kavanagh.
McCabe had no qualms about throwing the academy prospects in at the deep end.
“They’ve been doing really well, I think they’ve won six in a row for the 18s, and they’re up on merit.
“They’ve trained really well - they’re hungry, enthusiastic, willing to listen to information, and they’re all good kids willing to learn.
“Having a thought on the big games coming up, it was a good opportunity to give the lads a bit of recognition and give debuts to a few of them. Hopefully it’s one that sticks in their mind.”
With the focus switching back to the league campaign, the Diamonds make the short journey to Falkirk this Saturday looking to extend their impressive recent record over the Bairns.
Player-boss McCabe is relishing the challenge.
“Since I’ve been at this club it’s always been a fixture I’ve looked forward to, home and away. It always seems to generate good crowds and there’s usually a good atmosphere at the game.
“I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve had a few positive results - last year going there it was four, I think, and obviously the win at the start of this season was great.
“They’ve picked up form, and like I said before the league is never won and lost that early on in the season. They’ve been on a good run and we’re starting to find a little bit of form and hopefully get a few more players back into the squad and we’ll go into the game full of confidence.”
With goalkeeper Josh Rae and midfielder Adam Frizzell still on the comeback trail, Rhys was pleased with the second-half return of Gabby McGill at Dens Park, and gave an update on the current injury situation.
“Gabby came through an intensive week of training and did really well, so he fully merited coming on. He did exactly what you want from a sub, he came on and made an impact - you see that with his assist. The main thing now for Gabby is that he builds on that.
“Josh is coming back from an operation, and from an outside point of view it would be easy to just throw him back into a match scenario, but we’ve got to make sure that we do the correct rehab. He’s ahead of schedule, so he’s not far away.
“Frizz has responded really well, again it’s an awkward one. He’s been working really hard behind the scenes and hopefully he comes through training without any reactions and we can slowly get him introduced back into the squad, because he’s a massive player for us.”
The Diamonds boss also reported that midfielder Justin Devenny and striker Callum Smith have shown no lasting effects from knocks picked up in the Scottish Cup tie.
Referee Mike Roncone is in charge of a match involving Airdrie for the first time this season.
As the match falls outside ‘blocked hours’, Falkirk TV will be streaming domestically as well as overseas. Access, along with updated ticket information, is available using the link below.
Saturday December 3, 2022
The Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk
Michael Banks, Paul McAvinue