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Stewart Petrie wary of ‘formidable’ Airdrie in play-off second leg as Montrose boss gives injury update on key pair

A thumbs up from Montrose boss Stewart Petrie during his side's 1-0 play-off win over Airdrie.
A thumbs up from Montrose boss Stewart Petrie during his side's 1-0 play-off win over Airdrie.

Montrose boss Stewart Petrie remains cautiously optimistic ahead of their Championship play-off second leg at Airdrie.

The Gable Endies will travel to North Lanarkshire with a slender 1-0 lead after a battling display at Links Park.

An early Craig Johnston strike, after a defensive mix up, was enough to put the Angus side ahead going in to the deciding clash at the Excelsior Stadium on Saturday.

‘Half-time’ in play-off

“We’re delighted to win the game,” Petrie said. “But it’s only half-time and the game is really tight.

“We’ll try and get the boys recovered now the best we can moving into Saturday which will be a big game for both clubs.

“Ian [Murray] might be going in thinking a draw was about right.

Terry Masson (left) and Craig Johnston celebrate the early goal.
Terry Masson (left) and Craig Johnston celebrate the early goal.

“We’re happy going in 1-0 but it’s a slender lead going to Airdrie who are formidable at home.

“We know exactly how big the task still is.

“It’s a privilege to play in these games when you’re in the right end of the play-offs.

“It has been a long hard season for the boys but we’ve given ourselves a chance.”

Hopes history WON’T repeat itself

Petrie is determined not to see a repeat of their previous two play-off semi finals.

Both in 2019 and 2021, the side went into the second leg with a one-goal advantage.

Early goals in both of those games against Queen of the South and Morton, respectively, undid the hard work put in at Links Park.

A disappointed Stewart Petrie after last season's play-off defeat at Morton.
A disappointed Stewart Petrie after last season’s play-off defeat at Morton.

Hopefully we can learn from that but we are playing against a good side,” the Montrose boss said.

“Sometimes if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But we’ll be prepared.

“We know we’ve made mistakes in these games.

“As long as it’s through really good play then we can accept that.

“We’ll make sure we don’t lose silly goals or make mistakes.”

Injury fears

Meanwhile, Petrie has provided updates to the injuries picked up by keeper Aaron Lennox and Craig Johnston.

The Mo stopper was ruled out before the clash with young keeper Liam McFarlane brought in on an emergency loan from Hearts.

The side could be dealt another blow with goal hero Johnston also pulling up with a calf injury towards the end of the first-leg.

“We were a wee bit unfortunate with Aaron,” Petrie revealed. “He has a tear in his hamstring, so we were rushing about and thanks to Hearts who gave us a young lad.

“He’ll come along again on Saturday but we’ll see how Aaron is.

“Craig has been outstanding in the last eight weeks, I wouldn’t want to play against him if I was a centre-half.

“We’re just hoping he’ll be fine for Saturday because it’s a big pitch and we need him down the channels.”

4 Montrose talking points as Gable Endies go into second-leg with narrow lead ending Airdrie unbeaten run

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