July 14, 2023
Airdrieonians vs Dumbarton
Cammy Ballantyne is ready to take on former club Dumbarton on Saturday as Airdrie’s competitive fixtures get underway.
The Sons visit the Excelsior in the opening fixture of Viaplay Cup Group E after a pre-season where the Diamonds successfully defended the NL Cup before visiting Northern Ireland for a training camp which included a 4-2 victory over Dungannon Swifts.
With the season about to kick-off in earnest, defender Ballantyne is raring to go.
“Always ready for the competitive games to come back, that’s what you do all your work for. The last three or four weeks was just hard graft gearing towards the first game of the season.
“It was good to get away last week for a bit of team bonding and stuff.”
Airdrie begin their Viaplay group with two home fixtures, Premiership new boys Dundee visiting a week after Saturday’s encounter with Dumbarton.
The Diamonds’ home record played a significant part in last season’s promotion to the Championship, and Ballantyne wants to get the campaign off to a good start by continuing that.
“You want to make this the worst place for anyone to come to, for them to dread coming to Airdrie.
“We mainly did that last season, with the big pitch and the way we play football, it suited us great. That’s the exact same plan for this season - into the cup and we’ll take that into the league as well. We won’t be fearing anyone.”
The summer saw a change in captaincy at the club, with midfielder Adam Frizzell taking over the armband from assistant manager Callum Fordyce, while Ballantyne has been named the new vice-captain.
The 26-year-old is delighted to receive the recognition.
“It’s a great honour. In the summer, Dycey and the gaffer must have been speaking and they said Dycey’s going to take more of a back seat and be involved more with the coaching etc.
“Just the fact that my name was in the hat to be involved is a great honour. I’m still going to be the same person on and off the park, just with an added bit of responsibility.”
Fans will be hoping to see more of Ballantyne’s committed defensive displays, beginning with the visit of the Sons on Saturday.
The defender played at The Rock in season 2018-19 before moving to Montrose, and he knows what to expect from his old side.
“Previous Dumbarton teams, and obviously playing against Stevie Farrell’s teams as well, they’re well organised, they work hard and they’ve got a great structure. There’s no passengers in the team, so it’s going to be a hard game no matter what.
“We’ll just do what we do, at home especially, try to use the advantage of the home pitch and play our stuff. Hopefully that’s enough to get the win.
“You want to win every game you play in, so we’ll be looking to win every game, top the group, and get through to the knockout stages.”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe is also familiar with the Sons set-up ahead of Saturday’s fixture.
“I’ve played against Dumbarton enough throughout my career that I know how they play - they’re going to make it difficult for us.
“The games we played here two years ago, they made it difficult and one of the games ended up in a mad last 5-10 minutes, so we know we’re going to be in for a tough game again.
“I don’t know how their pre-season and preparation’s gone in terms of how they’ve assembled their squad, but nothing really changes for me - it’s about us continuing that message and belief that we’ve tried to instill.”
Graham Grainger is the man in the middle for the Diamonds’ first competitive outing of 23/24.
Match tickets are available using the link below. Supporters travelling by car are advised that four-way traffic lights on Carlisle Road are causing significant delays around the stadium, so please plan accordingly.
Saturday July 15, 2023
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Craig Macrae, James McCluskey