September 22, 2023
Airdrieonians vs Raith Rovers
Raith Rovers will bring some familiar faces to the Excelsior on Saturday, but Calum Gallagher says there will be no old pals act as the Diamonds look to get back to winning ways.
Former Airdrie manager Ian Murray will take on his old side for the first time since moving to Kirkcaldy in May 2022, and ex-Diamonds Dylan Easton, Scott McGill and Callum Smith could all play a part for the visitors.
Striker Gallagher says that he and his team-mates are still smarting from last weekend’s 4-0 defeat at Arbroath, and aim to right a few wrongs when the league leaders visit.
“I think when you know the ability and ambition in the dressing room, sometimes these feel like missed opportunities.
“We hurt after performances like that, but as the manager says it won’t do you any favours dwelling on it too much. It’s vital that you have a good training week.
“We’ll look to get that out of our system and prepare as best we can for Raith.”
The Diamonds’ return to the Championship has so far consisted of three defeats on the road and two wins at the Excelsior, and Gallagher is keen to keep that perfect home form going.
“We are a football-playing team, we are at our best when the ball is on the deck and we can play.
“It’s just about implementing that in a more competitive league with better quality players. That’s not something that we fear doing.”
Raith’s win over Inverness last weekend took them to the top of the Championship table, and Gallagher has been impressed by the Starks’ Park side’s brand of football.
The 29-year-old believes it points to an entertaining match-up on Saturday.
“I regularly catch up on the highlights - and full respect to them, they’ve always got a long highlight reel! There’s lots of goals and lots of chances. They play a similar style to us where they look to play the right way with the ball on the deck.
“We’re familiar with a lot of the staff and players there and we’re aware of how they like to play. It gives us an insight, but I think ultimately it’s two teams looking to play the right way. By all accounts it’ll be a great game of football.
“It’s the performance that matters - nine times out of ten, you play well, you get points. That’s got to be the manner in which we approach the game.”
And Calum will be hoping to influence the match in the best way he knows how - by scoring goals.
The striker leads the Diamonds’ scoring charts at this early stage, despite having a goal controversially flagged offside at Gayfield.
“From a personal perspective, my mentality hasn’t really changed since the end of last year. Something seemed to click for me in front of goal, and I feel as confident as I ever did.
“I’m desperate to get back in the goal hunt - hopefully it’ll stick this time! It was very tight and I don’t know either way, but I can take solace in making the right run and still finding the net.”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe wants to see his side recover quickly after a disappointing performance in Angus.
“We’ve quickly got to go and get the lads together - the heads and the confidence aren’t going to drop.
“The message stays the same, it’s just about tidying up on a few wee issues and details that we look to do in every game, whether we win, lose or draw, and focusing on the Raith game.”
Liam McStravick misses out through suspension following his second-half red card last Saturday, but new loan signing Kanayo Megwa should be in contention to join the squad.
Midfielder Charlie Telfer has returned to full training following a knee injury, with his chances of inclusion rated as “touch and go”.
Referee Lloyd Wilson is in charge of Saturday’s Excelsior clash, his first Airdrie match this season.
Match tickets and streaming details are available via the link below.
Saturday September 23, 2023
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Graeme Stewart, Craig Macrae