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December 15, 2023

Ayr United vs Airdrieonians

Craig Watson’s 100th Airdrie appearance ended in disappointment - but the Diamonds stalwart hopes to make 101 a happy number at Ayr on Saturday.

The versatile defender joined from East Fife in May 2021 after racking up a century of appearances at Bayview, and Saturday’s home defeat to Dunfermline Athletic saw him achieve the same feat with Airdrie.

“I’m delighted to make the 100 appearances - I was saying on the day when it got presented, I couldn’t believe that’s 100 already. It’s flown by.

“I can see how far we’ve come since my first season and the disappointment of that Queen’s Park final, to the highs of last year and the final against Hamilton. We’ve got more than enough belief that we can kick on again.”

Unfortunately the occasion proved to be an unhappy one as goals from Josh Edwards and Matty Todd handed the Pars victory despite Calum Gallagher’s stoppage-time penalty.

Watson says it was a frustrating result, but no cause for panic.

“Ultimately I was disappointed with the result at the weekend, not to overcome our previous poor results against Dunfermline.

“You only need to look at last season, when there was a poor run of form before the Christmas break, and we know how last season ended up!

“You never get too up with a win and never get too down with a loss - the great thing about football is you’ve got a game three or four days away, so with a good weeks training under our belt we’ll be raring to go.”

With another battle looming at Somerset Park on Saturday, Watson is hopeful that the Diamonds can learn from last weekend’s defeat.

“It’s about having a balanced approach, there’s no point in just completely forgetting about the weekend. You’ve got to honestly analyse it and see what we did well - and things we didn’t do so well.

“Ultimately you’ve got to look forward - you can learn from it, but there’s no point in dwelling. It’s a great changing room with a good mix of youth and experience, we’re staying nice and positive.”

The Honest Men have the upper hand so far this season, having won at the Excelsior in October with goals from Logan Chalmers and Anton Dowds meaning that Lewis McGregor’s second-half strike was merely a consolation.

Like Airdrie, Lee Bullen’s side have had mixed fortunes since then, and currently find themselves in eighth place in the cinch Championship table, three points behind the Diamonds in fifth.

Craig says he and his team-mates will give Saturday’s opponents the respect they are due - but, as always, will focus on their own performance first and foremost.

“It’s been years since I’ve played at Somerset, so I’m looking forward to getting back down there and getting onto the pitch.

“They’ve been up and down - they’ve had good results this season, so we know they’re a threat and we’ve got to take it as seriously as we would Dundee United, Raith or whoever. We’ve got to be professional about it. No matter who we’re playing, we want to get the win.

“We know we’ve got good form in the locker, we just need to be expressive and energetic on Saturday.”

Manager Rhys McCabe is looking forward to locking horns with his former Sheffield Wednesday colleague as the Diamonds make their first trip to Somerset Park since 2018.

“It’s a tough place to go, you really have to go and earn the right to play. I know Bully well, so I know how his teams will be set up and I can guarantee that’s the message he’ll be putting on to his players - that they turn their home advantage into a favour for them.

“We’ve got to make sure that we adapt and we tweak things - but also remember that styles and philosophies aside, it’s 11 v 11 and you’ve always got that competitive side that means you must do the basics really well.”

Defender Cammy Ballantyne (groin) and midfielder Murray Aiken (ankle) miss out again for Airdrie, while McCabe (back), Charlie Telfer (calf) and Lewis McGregor (heel) will be assessed in the lead-up to the match.

Peter Stuart referees his first match involving Airdrie this season.

Match tickets are available using the link below. Supporters are advised that there will be no cash gate, all tickets must be purchased online in advance. The bar at Somerset Park is open to home fans only, though the nearby Hawkhill Bowling Club will welcome Airdrie supporters.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide our DTVLive streams for this fixture, but we’ll have full highlights as early as possible on Sunday.


Saturday December 16, 2023




Somerset Park, Ayr



Peter Stuart


Paul O’Neill, Barry Reid

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