March 3, 2023
Queen of the South vs Airdrieonians
Callum Smith says Airdrie’s immediate focus is on fighting their way back into the play-off positions - and Saturday’s match against Queen of the South is shaping up to be a cracker.
The Diamonds dropped out of the top four last weekend after a difficult run of fixtures as they faced league leaders Dunfermline Athletic twice, followed by second-placed Falkirk.
With only one point to show for their efforts in those three games, striker Smith - who was red-carded in the first match against the Pars - says it’s been a frustrating time for the squad.
“It’s been a disappointing few weeks for myself. Obviously getting the red card, it was quite unlucky - I feel I was a wee bit harshly done by.
“It’s done now and I just need to focus on the next game. We’re looking forward to it.”
Smith missed the second meeting with his old side Dunfermline through suspension, a 1-1 draw at East End Park, but returned from the bench against Falkirk last Saturday.
The Grangemouth side ran out 3-1 winners after Calum Gallagher had given Airdrie the lead, with a penalty miss on the stroke of half-time coming back to haunt the Diamonds.
Smith believes the game could have gone either way.
“I thought overall we created chances, we’ve had big moments in the game. If we take one of them it’s a completely different game.
“Credit to Falkirk, they’ve came here and they’ve played well. As I say we just need to move on to the next game and take every game as it comes.”
With the focus shifting to Saturday’s match at Palmerston Park, Airdrie will be looking for a win as they seek an immediate return to the coveted play-off spots.
The sides have drawn both of their meetings this season, Gavin Reilly cancelling out Gallagher’s opener in Dumfries in August.
Gallagher and Callum Fordyce joined Smith on the scoresheet at the Excelsior in October, with Reilly, Josh Todd and Harry Cochrane getting the visitors’ goals in a 3-3 draw.
Queens, who recently appointed Marvin Bartley as manager, currently sit eighth in the cinch League 1 table, but Smith says they’ve proven to be a tough opponent.
“They’re well organised. We know down there it’s a tough game - the conditions are going to be hard, it’s quite a sticky astro so it’s not going to suit our play. We need to adapt and we need to go there full of belief that we can get something from the game.
“The pressure will be on them to pick up results as much as ourselves - it’s a big game at the weekend and we’re really looking forward to it.”
And having already scored in the fixture this season, Callum hopes to return to the starting line-up and find the net once again.
“I said at the start of the season I want to add more goals to my game.
“I’m on nine just now, which is a reasonable record I would say, but I’m definitely looking for more.”
Diamonds boss Rhys McCabe joined the club from Queen of the South in 2021, and is well aware of the quality that the Doonhamers possess.
“We’re under no illusion - they’re a good team. I don’t really look at league positions to determine how good a team they are, and I know first hand that they’ve got good individuals.
“We’re fully expecting a tough game away from home. We’ve got to make sure that we apply ourselves this week, we’re really clear what we’re doing and our message, and we’ll go down there and look to get the three points.”
The Diamonds boss described Ben Stanway as “touch and go” as the midfielder recovers from a knee injury, but otherwise the squad has a clean bill of health.
Referee Duncan Williams takes charge of his first Airdrie match this season.
Match tickets and live stream details are available using the link below.
Saturday March 4, 2023
Palmerston Park, Dumfries
Michael Banks, Abbie Hendry