February 1, 2024
Raith Rovers vs Airdrieonians
Liam McStravick says he and his Diamonds team-mates are ready to take on Raith Rovers for a place in the SPFL Trust Trophy final.
Airdrie travel to Stark’s Park for Friday night’s televised meeting with the Kirkcaldy men, with Falkirk or Welsh side The New Saints awaiting the victors in the final.
Midfielder McStravick has featured in all three of the Diamonds’ ties in the competition so far, getting on the scoresheet with a superb strike against University of Stirling in the third round.
The Northern Irishman is relishing life at the Excelsior since joining from Linfield in August.
“I’m loving it, getting games in the legs and minutes under the belt. It’s obviously going to help my development even more, and I’m loving being in an Airdrie shirt.
“Long may it continue - I’m enjoying it here!“
Currently on a six-match unbeaten run stretching back to December, Airdrie will look to continue that form against Raith Rovers this weekend, having already won twice and drawn once in their meetings with the high-flying Fifers this season.
McStravick says confidence is high in the Diamonds dressing room.
“The boys are doing well, that’s six unbeaten so long may it continue. We’ll keep going, we’re going there on Friday to do that so everyone’s excited for it.
“It’s a big semi-final and we have a good record against Raith. We’re buzzing for it.”
Ex-Airdrie boss Ian Murray is having a tougher time of it at Stark’s Park, with his squad hit by injuries and on a run of four consecutive defeats.
Following their loss at the Excelsior earlier this month, Rovers have also fallen at the hands of Queen’s Park, Livingston, and Inverness.
McStravick warns that form is temporary, as the Championship title challengers have already shown their quality this season.
“They have good players - good individuals, and they’re also a good team. You could say it’s between them and Dundee United for the league, but we’ll just keep doing our work in the background.
“We’re six unbeaten as I say, we’re in the better form going into the game, but obviously it’s a big semi-final and you don’t know what to expect.
“We’re excited for it. We’re buzzing for it, and we’re confident going into the game - a good week of training will lead us up to Friday and we’ll go from there.”
Win or lose at Stark’s, the Diamonds have another big cup tie on the horizon as Hearts visit the Excelsior a week on Sunday.
Liam expects Friday’s match to be just as much of an occasion.
“The Hearts game will be a good experience, but I’m buzzing for Friday. It’s a big semi-final.
“I played in a semi-final last year at The Oval for Linfield, and that was a good experience, but to get this club in a final would be massive.”
Manager Rhys McCabe agrees that the latter stages of any competition brings excitement, and expects a Friday night cup cracker.
“In terms of scale and the league format that we’re used to playing in, the chance to get to a final is a big added bonus. The boys are confident, they’re up for it, and hopefully we can go and put on a good performance and get the result.
“We’ve gone there and arguably put on one of our best away performances, so we can take great confidence from that, but knowing Ian well and knowing a couple of the players, I know they’ll be looking to bounce back from recent results.
“We expect a tough but entertaining game with both teams being competitive and trying to win."
While Murray Aiken (ankle) and Gabby McGill (knee) remain sidelined for the Diamonds, Cammy Ballantyne (groin) and Calum Gallagher (calf) have both resumed light training this week and will be looking to return to first-team action soon.
The referee for the Kirkcaldy clash is Colin Steven, who has officiated one other match involving Airdrie this season - July’s 1-0 Viaplay Cup win over Dundee.
Match tickets are available using the link below, and while the match is being shown live on BBC ALBA, our DiamondsTV video (subscribers outwith the UK & Ireland) and audio (pay-per-match worldwide) will also be available.
Kick-off at Stark’s Park is at 7:40pm.
Friday February 2, 2024
Stark’s Park, Kirkcaldy
Gordon McCabe, Ross Nelson