July 21, 2023
Airdrieonians vs Dundee
Dean McMaster says Airdrie have nothing to fear when they face Premiership side Dundee on Saturday - as last season’s Scottish Cup meeting showed.
The sides face off on Saturday having both won their opening Viaplay Cup Group E fixtures - and having both won promotion at the end of last season.
Midfielder McMaster joined the Diamonds on a permanent deal this summer after a season-long loan from St Mirren, and is delighted to officially become an Airdrieonians player.
“Last year I felt settled, even as a loan player. The boys welcomed me straight away, and when I came back it was just the same.
“It’s a good place to play your football, the facilities are great. It’s great here.”
The squad have been put through their paces with a gruelling pre-season schedule, but McMaster feels that the hard work is paying off.
“I feel like the trip to Coleraine was really good with a lot of hard sessions. We got a lot from that.
“The season’s not properly started yet, but these games are still important so we’re keeping on top of the fitness levels and how we want to play. It’s all coming along quite nicely.”
The summer preparations culminated in a 2-0 opening day win over Dumbarton, with late goals from Nikolay Todorov and Lewis McGregor sending the Diamonds to the top of the group after the first round of fixtures.
McMaster played a pivotal role in the centre of the park, and was pleased with his performance.
“I thought I was decent, I was just keeping the ball moving, playing it sharp and keeping the boys ticking. There was obviously a wee bit of rustiness, it was our first competitive game.
“As a team I thought we played some good stuff and there’s a lot of things to work on.”
Saturday’s opponents Dundee also got off to a winning start, beating Bonnyrigg Rose 1-0 at New Dundas Park on Tuesday night.
The Dens Park side are back in the top-flight after taking the Championship title in a storming end to last season, but Airdrie proved to be tricky Scottish Cup opponents for the Dee in November.
Goals from Calum Gallagher and Callum Smith took the tie to extra-time after a thrilling 2-2 draw, but a stoppage-time red card and a number of enforced changes proved too much for the Diamonds to overcome, and Dundee ran out 6-2 winners after extra-time.
Dean believes that performance proves that the Diamonds are capable of a result.
“Last year for 90 minutes, I thought we went toe-to-toe. Half the team was ill as well, so we were short on numbers! We put in a great shift for 90 minutes and then just couldn’t hack the extra-time.
“Dundee are a good side, they’ve been promoted deservedly and have good players this season.
“Obviously we’ll be confident, but every game is tough - especially a team in the division above. It’s going to be a tough challenge.”
Manager Rhys McCabe is also aware that Tony Docherty’s men will go into the match as favourites.
“We’re under no illusion, they’re a good side who were promoted last year. We know that it’s going to be a tough test, as will Tuesday be at Inverness. These are the kind of games that we look to test ourselves on and see where we’re at.
“We got off to a good start and we’ve given ourselves a wee glimmer of hope, so we’ve just got to make sure that we go out with the same mentality that we always do - we look to go and play our style and try to get the victory.”
The Diamonds boss has no injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s match.
Match tickets are available using the link below, and our DTVLive stream is available on a pay-per-view basis for this match, priced at £12.
Saturday July 22, 2023
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Dougie Potter, Paul O'Neill