January 12, 2024
Dunfermline Athletic vs Airdrieonians
Nikolay Todorov is looking forward to a return to East End Park, but the in-form striker insists he only has one focus - an Airdrie win.
Todorov has been instrumental in the Diamonds’ current three-win streak, grabbing a Hampden winner against Queen’s Park, scoring the opener in the 2-0 win over Inverness, and heading home the only goal of last Saturday’s match against league leaders Raith Rovers.
The big Bulgarian is pleased with his own form, but says that team results are more important than personal glory.
“I’m happy obviously, but I’m more happy that we’ve managed to get out the bad run because we lost three on the bounce.
“It’s good to be in a winning team, because that brings everyone together and the team has been closer than ever. It’s good to be in the changing room now.
“Win, lose or draw, we just focus on the next one and what we can do. I think that mentality has got us through the bad run - we’re now on a good run, but we don’t forget how it feels.”
Todorov’s dramatic stoppage-time goal at Hampden saw Airdrie end 2023 on a high, and ruled out the prospect of a winless December.
With two wins from two already this year, the 27-year-old knows that form is temporary.
“The best advice I’ve ever had in football is don’t get too high and don’t get too low. It changes - even in one game, in a few minutes, it can change really quickly.
“If you’re losing, make sure you’re doing your best, working hard and doing all the right things. Things in football change. We are on a good run, but that doesn’t mean we’re flying sky-high - everyone needs to focus on their own jobs and stick together, whether it’s a good run or a bad run.”
More of that indomitable spirit will be required on Saturday when the Diamonds head to Fife to face James McPake’s Dunfermline Athletic - Todorov’s former club, and a team who Airdrie haven’t beaten in six meetings.
The ex-Pars frontman says his old side will prove difficult opponents despite their current injury crisis.
“They’ve been tough under James. He’s professional at motivating his players, they’re well organised.
“They’ve been struggling with a few injuries lately, but that’s not going to make us underestimate them. They caused us problems here the last time - they deserved to beat us that day because they were just the better team.
“We’re going to go well prepared and try to get the three points. It’s another game for us, it doesn’t matter who it is.”
Dunfermline have been 2-1 victors on both occasions so far this season, Josh Edwards and Matty Todd netting before Calum Gallagher’s consolation spot-kick at Airdrie in December, and Ewan Otoo and Paul Allan turning round Craig Watson’s opener on the first day of the league campaign.
Nikolay missed the August match through injury, but does he expect a warm welcome on his return to East End Park this weekend?
“I hope so - I’ve not done anything wrong to not get a good reception!
“I liked the place and it wasn’t my choice to leave, but we are where we are and I’m really happy where I am at the moment. I can’t wait for the next game, and to perform in an Airdrie kit.”
Player-manager Rhys McCabe says that the Pars’ burgeoning injury list won’t affect his own preparations for Saturday’s match.
“We stress it all the time, it is always about us - but we do our homework in terms of analysing our opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.
“I know they’ve had a couple of injury worries and concerns over the last couple of weeks, but it’s not something I feel sorry for because I’m not in the Dunfermline camp!
“We’ve just got to go about our business as best we can, regardless of what personnel, formation or team they play. The focus is always ultimately on us.”
In Airdrie’s own treatment room, Cammy Ballantyne had successful surgery on a groin problem earlier this week, while Murray Aiken continues to make good progress following an ankle fracture. Player-coach Aaron Taylor-Sinclair should be fit for selection having been rested in recent weeks following a calf injury, but Kanayo Megwa is unavailable having joined parent club Hibernian’s mid-season training camp.
The man in the middle for Saturday’s fixture is Steven McLean, who has refereed two narrow Diamonds defeats this season - August’s 4-3 extra-time loss to Ross County in the Viaplay Cup, and December’s 2-1 reversal at Partick Thistle.
Match tickets are available using the link below. Our DTVLive video (subscribers outwith the UK & Ireland) and audio (worldwide) streams are also available, subject to connectivity.
Saturday January 13, 2024
East End Park, Dunfermline
Dougie Potter, Brian Christie