November 24, 2023
Stranraer vs Airdrieonians
Josh Rae is hungry for more cup glory as the Diamonds prepare to enter the Scottish Cup with a trip to Stranraer, 100 years on from the triumphant season which saw Airdrieonians lift the trophy.
Saturday’s match at Stair Park comes a week after the squad booked their place in the SPFL Trust Trophy semi-final, with Rae the hero thanks to an outstanding performance in the 0-0 draw, and the match-winning save in the penalty shoot-out.
The goalkeeper was happy to get through after a tricky tie at Cappielow.
“It was brilliant, the whole team dug in and managed to get it to penalties, and we did the job!
“First half I thought we were okay, we probably had the better of the chances. Second half we couldn’t get going, but it showed a different side to us - we dug in and we could have won it at the end.”
Of course the 90 minutes ended goalless, resulting in a penalty shoot-out which bore an eerie resemblance to the Diamonds’ play-off triumph in May.
Both sides scored their first five, Cammy Ballantyne netted Airdrie’s sixth, and Josh produced a fine stop to delight the Airdrie faithful once again.
“Hutts said to me before it that I would do it again! It worked out the exact same way that it happened, so it was enjoyable.
“I got close to the second one, it hit my trailing leg and hit the roof of the net, then a couple later I managed to get it. All the boys’ penalties were top class, and it was my job just to try and get one of them.”
With passage in one cup safely secured, attention turns to another as the Diamonds take on Scott Agnew’s Stranraer.
The former player/assistant manager is in charge of a sizeable ex-Airdrie contingent at Stair Park - who will no doubt be looking to claim the scalp of their old club to end a disappointing run of form.
The sides last met in League 1 during season 2019/20, where January’s goalless draw at the Excelsior followed a 2-0 Airdrie win in Stranraer, with Calum Gallagher and Dale Carrick on the scoresheet.
The clubs’ fortunes have been very different since then, with the Dumfries and Galloway side slipping into League 2 while the Diamonds achieved promotion to the Championship.
Airdrie keeper Rae is hoping that he can provide the foundation for his side to claim the win in a potential banana-skin of a tie.
“We go into every game aiming to get a clean sheet, and I’m sure the forward players can get a couple of goals.
“It’ll be difficult going down there, but we’re confident. It’ll be their cup final, they’ll be putting everything into it - but we’ve got to do the same, and I’m sure our quality will come through if we do that.”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe stresses the importance of professionalism ahead of the third round tie, and the Diamonds boss is looking forward to going head-to-head with his former team-mate.
“It’s a tough fixture at a difficult venue, against a team who ultimately have nothing to lose - so we’ve got to go there with the right mentality and professionalism, and go and hopefully get a good result.
“We understand the position that we’re in, being in the higher league. We’ve got to go there and show why that’s the case.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Aggy, we had a really good relationship with him - he was very honest and his coaching sessions were excellent. It’ll be good to see him, but ultimately I’ll be going to get one over on him on Saturday!”
Airdrie are without ankle injury victim Murray Aiken, but Aaron Taylor-Sinclair returns from international duty with Antigua & Barbuda, and fellow defender Mason Hancock has resumed training ahead of schedule following a knee injury.
Referee Grant Irvine has already overseen three matches involving Airdrie this season - the league opener at Dunfermline, October’s home draw with Queen’s Park, and the 2-0 win over Arbroath a fortnight ago.
Admission to the match is on a pay-at-the-gate basis, priced as follows:
ADULT - £15
CONCESSION - £10
YOUTH - £5
Proof of concession may be required. Please note that turnstiles and refreshment kiosks at Stair Park are cash-only.
Unfortunately we are unable to provide a live stream for this fixture, but live updates will be available on Twitter @AirdrieoniansFC as usual, and we’ll have DiamondsTV highlights on Sunday.
Saturday November 25, 2023
Stair Park, Stranraer
Barry Reid, James McCluskey