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May 6, 2024

Airdrieonians vs Partick Thistle

Cammy Ballantyne says Airdrie’s familiarity with the promotion play-offs can help the Diamonds as they prepare to face Partick Thistle in the race for the Premiership.

Tuesday night’s tie sees the Jags visit the Excelsior for the first leg of the quarter-final, with a semi-final meeting with Raith Rovers the reward for the winners after Friday’s second leg.

Whoever proceeds after a gruelling knockout schedule will face the 11th-placed team from the Premiership - currently St Johnstone - for a place in the top flight.

Defender Ballantyne made his Airdrie comeback at the national stadium in last Friday’s final league match, having been rested for two weeks following a niggling calf strain.

“It was good to be back in. Obviously I’d picked up a wee injury against Dunfermline and didn’t want to rush back, making sure everything was okay with the play-offs coming up.

“It was good to get back out there and get a run-out for 60 minutes at Hampden.”

The result was ultimately meaningless for the Diamonds, who had secured their play-off participation a fortnight previously, and Queen’s Park got the win they needed to avoid the relegation trapdoor.

Ruari Paton and Liam McLeish were the Spiders scorers in a 2-0 victory, but Ballantyne says Airdrie achieved everything they had set out to.

“Obviously you’ve got your pride and you want to win every game that you play in, but the main objective was to get a run-out for certain boys that need minutes, and everyone to come out of the game injury-free.

“We played some alright stuff - the goals weren’t the best, but the plan to happen all happened on Friday.”

The Hampden outing brought an end to a fantastic league campaign for Airdrie, with Rhys McCabe’s men earning a top-four finish in their first season back in the Championship after a decade in League 1.

The Diamonds have picked up many admirers along the way, and vice-captain Ballantyne says the play-offs are just-reward for a team on the up.

“We’ve earned the right to be in them, it’s not as if we got here by a fluke. We’ve played well all season. It’s our first season up, but we’ve played with confidence.

“Coming in to the games, people wrote us off and didn’t think we would be up here challenging, so you’d say it’s a free hit - but we know we’ve played Partick four times this season and there’s not much between the teams.

“We’ll be just as confident as every other game. We’ll take each leg as it comes, but we’re obviously quietly confident going into the games.”

Kris Doolan’s Thistle provide the first hurdle as Airdrie look to add to their successes in a season which has also seen the Diamonds lift silverware with March’s SPFL Trust Trophy win.

There was little to separate the sides over the league campaign, with just three points between their third and fourth place finishes after 36 games.

The Diamonds registered a win and a draw in the meetings at the Excelsior, while Partick held on to all six points at Firhill.

With the Jags slightly edging it over the season, Ballantyne knows that Airdrie face a stern test - and will have to be at their best to progress.

“It’s going to be a tough game, very tough. They’re a top side with really good players, especially in the front end.

“As I’ve said before, we know our qualities as well, so we just need to play our game and try to nullify their attacks. We’re expecting a tough, tight game over the two legs.”

The sides meet a year after experiencing differing fortunes in last season’s play-offs. While the Diamonds won promotion to the Championship with a penalty shoot-out win over Hamilton, Partick narrowly missed out on a spot in the Premiership after losing to Ross County in the same manner.

Cammy, who netted Airdrie’s sixth penalty before Josh Rae’s save secured promotion last May, knows that both sides could benefit from their past involvements.

“You play on your experiences from before. Airdrie have been in play-offs for the last four or five years, so we know what it takes.

“Last year we managed to get it done and get through. Partick will be looking for redemption after last year, they really should have gone up - so they’ll have their experiences from it as well.

“It’s two teams that have been there and done it, so it’ll be a tight game between us.”

Player-manager Rhys McCabe is looking forward to the play-off challenge.

“It’s a slightly different format to the one that we had real success in, but it’s more the occasion and the intense atmosphere - the pressure that you put amongst yourselves as a group.

“We’ve had a bit of positive success with that, so we’ve harnessed that for the last three or four weeks. It’s important as a group that we manage expectations and manage the occasion.

“Nothing’s going to be won or lost in the first 30-45 minutes, or likewise the first game. Anything can happen in football, but we’ve got a good chance over the course of two legs.”

McCabe rates his own chance of involvement in the first leg as ‘unlikely’ as he continues to recover from a calf injury. Goalkeeper Josh Rae and midfielder Liam McStravick also miss out.

Referee Grant Irvine has been appointed for his seventh Airdrie game of the season. The whistler previously took charge of the opening day defeat at Dunfermline, October’s home draw with Queen’s Park, victories over Arbroath and Stranraer in November, February’s 2-0 win at Dundee United, and last month’s 2-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic.

Match tickets are available using the link below, and our DiamondsTV video (subscribers outwith the UK & Ireland) and audio (pay-per-match worldwide) streams are also available.

Please be aware that behaviour deemed unacceptable will result in ejection from the stadium. Issues arising during the match can be reported anonymously - see the posters around the stadium for more information. Our unacceptable conduct policy can be viewed using the link below.


Tuesday May 7, 2024




Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie



Grant Irvine


Chris Rae, John Stewart

Fourth Official

Gavin Duncan

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