It’s matchday three in Betfred Cup Group H as we welcome League One side Airdrieonians to The Tony Macaroni Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Let’s look ahead to tomorrow’s match and take a closer look at our opponents.
What have the Diamonds been up to this summer?
It’s been a turbulent summer for tomorrow’s visitors as off-field events have dominated proceedings.
Having lost out to Alloa on penalties in the play-off semi-finals last season, hopes were high of another tilt at promotion in the coming campaign but their plans were thrown into disarray when majority shareholder Tom Wotherspoon stood down as Chairman on 5th June to be succeeded by his predecessor Jim Ballantyne.
They suffered a further blow when striker Iain Russell announced his retirement on June 14th before Head Coach Mark Wilson left by mutual consent three days later.
As yet, no new manager has been appointed and they have not been able to make any new signings, but last season’s League One top scorer Andy Ryan remains within their ranks which ensures a tough task will lie ahead for the Lions.
How did they get on in their first group match?
In spite of their problems, Airdrie recorded a morale-boosting 3-1 win over nine-man Stranraer at the Excelsior Stadium on Tuesday night. Cammy Russell scored a double on his debut either side of Andy Ryan’s penalty, the award of which saw Blues keeper Cammy Belford sent off. Scott Robertson pulled one back for Stevie Farrell’s side before David Barron received a second yellow card late on.
The result puts Airdrie in third place, level on points with second-placed St Mirren and two behind Group H leaders Livi who followed up their penalty shootout win over Partick Thistle with a 1-0 win at St Mirren on Tuesday night.
What happened last time?
The Diamonds were a familiar foe for Livi last season, the two sides meeting on no fewer than five occasions. The Lions enjoyed complete dominance, winning all five meetings, scoring 16 goals for the loss of just five. They started with a 4-2 away win in August thanks to goals from Danny Mullen, Liam Buchanan, Mikey Miller and Josh Mullin, before knocking the Diamonds out of the Scottish Cup with a 2-1 win through goals from Nicky Cadden and Mullen.
A few weeks later, the two sides met in a top-of-the-table clash at the Tony Macaroni Arena and Livi ran out 2-0 winners to go ten points clear at the top of the League One table. Dale Carrick and Cadden were the goalscorers on this occasion. The Lions then produced one of their finest performances of the season in a 4-0 win at the Excelsior in February – a Sean Crighton wonder strike followed by a Joe Gorman own goal and further strikes from Mullen and Cadden.
They rounded their clean sweep off with a 4-2 home win in March. Early goals from Mullen and Declan Gallagher set the victory up, Mullen adding a second before Cadden rounded off the scoring.
Any team news?
Tuesday night’s matchwinner Dale Carrick is rated doubtful for the match after suffering a suspected dead leg on Tuesday night. A few other players are carrying knocks but are expected to be fit.
It could be a landmark match for two Lions men tomorrow afternoon. Josh Mullin will make his 50th appearance in a Livi shirt while midfield maestro Scott Pittman will rack up a century of games for the Lions if they feature against the Diamonds.
How do the bookies see the match going?
The Lions are strong favourites to continue their impressive form in the competition with Betfred offering just 2/5 for the Lions to make it ten straight wins over the Diamonds. A first Airdrie win since 2012 is available at 6/1. The odds on another penalty shootout are 18/5.
In the five meetings of the two sides last season, Livi won every half. The tournament sponsors offer 2/1 for the Lions to win both halves tomorrow. Another 4-2 win for David Hopkin’s side is 33/1.
What will it cost to get in to the match?
Gate prices have been confirmed as £12 for adults and £6 for concessions. Admission is pay at the gate.