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March 28, 2024

Ayr United vs Airdrieonians

Mason Hancock is determined to prevent Ayr United from completing a clean sweep over Airdrie as the Diamonds head to Somerset Park for the fourth and final meeting of the teams this season.

The Honest Men have managed three wins out of three so far, but face an Airdrie side on a high from last weekend’s SPFL Trust Trophy win over The New Saints.

Defender Hancock was one of the top Diamonds performers at Falkirk on Sunday, and was delighted to get his hands on the cup.

“The feeling was like no other, that’s the stuff you look back on when you finish your career. I’m just at the start, so it always will be the first trophy of mine.

“It’s a great achievement for the team and the gaffer, being such a young squad and showing that we can do that. The belief that we’ve got in the changing room is really great, but we’re back on to the league on Friday night and we’ve got some massive games coming up.

“As much as it is a high feeling right now, we need to steady ourselves and get our heads back on the league.”

Liam McStravick and Nikolay Todorov got the goals as Airdrie came from behind to see off their Welsh opponents, with Hancock playing his part as a strong defensive display snuffed out a late TNS onslaught.

The Londoner showed his usual grit and determination to help see out the 2-1 win, and he insist those qualities must now transfer to the remaining league fixtures to ensure that there is no cup hangover.

“We’re a very focussed group of players, we know what we still need to do. We’ve got games in hand - “must-win” games, you could say - so I don’t think it’ll be tough coming back to reality.

“It’s a massive achievement, but there is something else we need to get our minds on now.”

The first hurdle to that objective is a trip to Somerset Park to take on Ayr United in Friday night’s televised match, and although the Honest Men have had a change of manager, their stranglehold over the fixture remains.

Lee Bullen was in charge for the first two meetings between the sides, with Logan Chalmers and Anton Dowds handing the visitors a win at the Excelsior in October despite Lewis McGregor’s strike.

Dowds was on the scoresheet again as Bullen’s Ayr won 1-0 at Somerset in December, and the former Falkirk man bagged a hat-trick in a 3-2 win at Airdrie last month, with Brown in the dugout as Cammy Ballantyne and Craig Watson netted the Diamonds goals.

Hancock says Airdrie will be doing all they can to get the elusive victory in Friday’s final league meeting.

“They’ve taken maximum points off us so far, and we’ve allowed them to score some quite easy goals. We feel we owe them one at least, anyway! We’ll be up for it like we are up for every game, and we’re looking forward to it.

“They obviously know what they’re doing against us, they’ve tied us down the last three times we’ve played them. I imagine it’ll be a difficult game, quite scrappy, and we’ll need to be on top of second balls. Get that part of the game right and when we can play, we can play.

“We’ll go there gritting our teeth, feeling as if we owe them one, and looking to keep up our winning streak and pick up some more points.”

A win would give Airdrie a four-point cushion in fourth place ahead of Saturday’s fixtures, and provide a platform for the Diamonds to take advantage of another hectic fixture schedule as the end of the season edges closer.

With the turnaround time between Sunday’s final and Friday’s fixture already shorter than usual, Mason is thrilled that the big matches keep coming.

“I think we’re just delighted there’s another game, to keep the momentum we’ve just built.

“We’ve had a good run, so I don’t know what the other boys are like but personally I’d rather have games every week thick and fast!”

Manager Rhys McCabe agrees that the Diamonds have underperformed in their previous meetings with the Honest Men, and is looking for improvement.

“First and foremost we’ll need to defend better than what we have done in the previous games, especially going away from home.

“It’s a difficult place to go, and we understand the threats that they have, so it’s really important that we’re switched on defensively.

“It’s also going to take a team effort and a collective unit all over the pitch to implement our gameplan and try to get the three points.”

Josh Rae (head) and Murray Aiken (ankle) remain sidelined for the Diamonds, and while Liam McStravick was withdrawn from Sunday’s cup final after suffering a knee injury, the extent of the knock is not yet clear.

Referee David Munro is in charge of his first Airdrie match this season.

Match tickets are available using the link below, and as the match is being shown live on BBC Scotland, there will be no DiamondsTV coverage for this fixture.


Friday March 29, 2024




Somerset Park, Ayr



David Munro


Frank Connor, Drew Kirkland

Fourth official

Colin Whyte

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