March 31, 2023
Alloa Athletic vs Airdrieonians
Josh Rae says confidence is high in the Airdrie camp as the Diamonds prepare to face Alloa in a tie which sees two form sides battling for a play-off place.
The goalkeeper has been watching on as his team-mates have taken care of business at the other end of the park in recent weeks, with the side notching an unbelievable 18 goals in their last three matches.
Victories over Kelty Hearts, Peterhead and Clyde have seen the Diamonds banging in the goals while only conceding twice, and Rae says a good defensive foundation has given the side a strong platform.
“The past few weeks we’ve been solid at the back like were at the start of January.
“Although we’ve been playing teams lower in the league, we still need to do the job - and we’ve been doing it brilliantly.”
The latest of those barnstorming wins came last Friday night as the side registered a 5-1 win over Clyde.
With Aaron Taylor-Sinclair on international duty, player-manager Rhys McCabe returned to a defence which was largely untroubled, but Rae was still unhappy at conceding despite the margin of victory.
“The gaffer came in and did brilliantly. Sinky’s been brilliant as well. It was just a sloppy goal, but we reacted well and got a good result.
“I can’t describe how much I hate losing goals. It’s my only job to keep it out the net, to be fair!
“Regardless if we’re 6-0 up or 1-0 up, I hate conceding goals and I want clean sheets.”
The big goalie will be hoping to keep the back door shut on Saturday when Airdrie visit the Indodrill aiming to leapfrog Alloa Athletic into third place.
Home advantage has paid off so far this season, with Gabby McGill and Calum Gallagher on the scoresheet as the Diamonds won 2-0 at the Excelsior in August.
The Wasps fought back with a 1-0 SPFL Trust Trophy win in September, before securing a 2-0 victory when Airdrie returned on League 1 duty a month later.
As the action returned to Airdrie in January, the Diamonds produced one of their best performances of the season as Callum Fordyce, Gallagher (2) and Charlie Telfer got the goals in a blistering 4-0 win.
Rae wants a repeat of that performance this weekend.
“They’ve got three wins in a row as well, so it’ll be tough going to their place - I think they’ve lost two games this season at home.
“But we’ll be going there looking to do the same thing we did last time we played them. We were brilliant that day, and we just need to keep doing what we’re doing - hopefully we’ll play as well as we did that day and we’ll be completely fine.
“They’re third for a reason, but it shouldn’t make a difference if they’re at home or away - we should be going there with confidence because we’ve been doing really well.”
And with the Diamonds seemingly unable to stop hitting the net in recent weeks, Josh hopes the travelling support will play a big part as they look to continue their impressive run.
“We need them behind us - we’ve got six games left and we just need to look to win every game and take it into the play-offs.
“Momentum is key, you’ve seen that in the past three weeks. We’ve built it slowly, and we just need to keep the momentum building. Everyone’s on a high just now so we just need to keep it positive and keep moving up.”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe says preparation is important as his squad get ready for a different kind of battle against Brian Rice’s side.
“I don’t think many teams go and really take goals off them or put them to the sword, their home form is relatively good, so we know it’s going to be a tough place to go.
“Yes we’re on a good run of form, but we’ve got to go with that mindset that it’s another game. Of course we know the magnitude in terms of positions in the league, it’s a big game for where we want to be come the end of the season.
“So we’ve got to make sure that we keep grounded, train properly, apply ourselves right, do our homework and go and approach the game as best we can on Saturday.”
The Diamonds boss has no injury worries, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair set to return to the squad after featuring twice for Antigua & Barbuda in their CONCACAF Nations League fixtures.
Barry Cook has already refereed two Airdrie matches this season, overseeing November’s 1-1 home draw with Peterhead and the 4-2 win at Montrose a month later.
Ticket information and streaming details are available using the link below.
Saturday April 1, 2023
The Indodrill Stadium, Alloa
Colin Drummond, Colin McAlpine