January 5, 2024
Airdrieonians vs Raith Rovers
Gavin Gallagher believes Airdrie have performed well against Raith Rovers by sticking to their principles, and the midfielder says more of the same could be key to victory on Saturday.
The Diamonds welcome the league leaders and their ex-Airdrie contingent to the Excelsior on Saturday after two good wins either side of New Year’s Day.
Although Gallagher was an unused substitute at Hampden, he contributed to Tuesday’s home win over Inverness CT with a solid performance in the middle of the park.
The 19-year-old is pleased with the side’s form.
“It was obviously a good win against Inverness, reflecting against Queen’s Park as well and carrying that on. The late winner showed good character from the team - we just had to carry that into the Inverness game, and we did that.
“It was good for me to start and play well, so hopefully we can continue that into the Raith Rovers game as well.”
A good afternoon for Gallagher could have been even better if he hadn’t been denied a goal following an infringement by Kanayo Megwa, with the midfielder providing a good finish after the whistle had sounded.
“I’ve been practicing it in training. I think Kenny’s robbed me there - I’ve been giving him a bit in the changing room!
“I don’t really care about goals getting called offside or free-kicks, as long as the team wins and gets the three points.”
Three points will be the aim when Ian Murray’s side visit on Saturday, and with four points out of six from the meetings so far this season, the Diamonds have every reason to believe a positive result is achievable.
Calum Gallagher provided the finish touch to a patient 25-pass build-up as Airdrie won 1-0 at the Excelsior in September, and another top quality performance came at Stark’s Park in November, Nikolay Todorov cancelling out the opener from former Diamond Callum Smith to earn a 1-1 draw in a match where a superb Kevin Dąbrowski display denied the visitors a win.
Gavin says those performances mean the Diamonds have every right to be confident despite the Kirkcaldy side’s impressive form.
“We’ve played them twice - they’re a good side but we’ve won and drawn, so it’s not as if we can’t go out there and beat them.
“Obviously they’re top of the table for a reason, but we just have to go and implement our style of play.
“It’s our home pitch, we like to play here with good, expansive football. Hopefully we can get the win.”
And Gallagher will be hoping to be involved again after Tuesday’s performance.
The youngster is enjoying his role in a competitive area of the Diamonds squad, and says his more experienced team-mates have proved to be good mentors.
“They’re all very, very good, but I just need to try to learn and pick up - I’m still young. Even Deano, he’s young but I can learn from him, the gaffer, Chas, Frizz - it’s just in training trying to pick up little things to carry on into the games if I get a chance.
“Every day at training they’re all coming up to me and giving me pointers on what I can get better at. I just need to take all of that in and hopefully play more!”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe is looking forward to another intriguing match-up with his former boss.
“I know Nid well and he knows us, he knows the way that we’re going to play. I don’t change, and he won’t change. There’ll be tweaks here and there, but one thing that the games have had this season is that they’ve been entertaining.
“They’re league leaders, but we can go and compete and we’ve done more than that so far. We’ve showed that we’re in the same category in terms of class and ability, it’s just about doing it on a consistent basis.”
Defender Cammy Ballantyne (groin) and midfielder Murray Aiken (ankle) continue to miss out, but the squad is in good health otherwise.
Referee Dan McFarlane has officiated one other Airdrie match this season, August’s 2-1 home victory against Inverness.
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Saturday January 6, 2024
Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie
Daniel McFarlane, John Stewart