Arbroath face toughest test of the football season at Rugby Park

Arbroath are preparing for what manager Dick Campbell believes will be their hardest game this season – playing league leaders Kilmarnock at Kilmarnock.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 4:20pm
Arbroath face toughest test of the football season at Rugby Park
Goalscorer Michael McKenna, right, is congratulated on his equaliser by Joel Nouble, left, and David Gold (picture by Graham Black)

A point-sharing result last weekend against Queen of the South dragged the Lichties back a little to fifth spot in the table – with the manager believing once again Arbroath should have won the game.

He expressed a mixture of positive views and frustration after the 1-1 draw at Gayfield, pleased with the way they played and also with another game unbeaten. But, just like at Hamilton the previous week, he was disappointed for the supporters and the players that they hadn’t won – which would have taken them up last Saturday to joint second.

Campbell said he could virtually guarantee there would be changes in the side which lined up at the BBSP Stadium because of the nature of the test, adding: “I need to use all my experience to get the team right.”

He said: “If we’d won the game last week, we could have been going down to Kilmarnock to beat them to go top of the league.”

One or two niggling injuries – with Dale Hilson among the latest casualties – were hampering the team just now, while Campbell said the third-round encounter in the Scottish Cup against Forfar Athletic, at Gayfield on November 27, would “look after itself”.

He added: “The biggest game this week is Kilmarnock at Kilmarnock. We have got to turn up there and let them know they are in a game. Anybody that beats us will need to work a lot harder than us.”

Kilmarnock opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Championship last weekend after a 2-0 away win over Morton.

At the same time, Arbroath came back against Queen of the South after going down to an Innes Cameron goal in the 55th minute.

Michael McKenna’s 11th goal in 14 games brought them level in the 67th minute as Joel Nouble first had a shot saved, then fed in David Gold. His shot was blocked before falling to McKenna, who blasted home through a forest of players.

Arbroath had 20 shots in the game, noted the club website, but, like the previous week, they were either thwarted by the goalkeeper or wasteful with the chances created.

Campbell noted in a post-match interview that Queens had two great chances on the breakaway in the final 10 minutes, while Arbroath had half a dozen chances around the six-yard box and didn’t take them.

“It was a great game,” he added. “You could see our fans were up for it, because we are trying to win games. That’s the way I play the game.

"We had five strikers on in the last half hour but I thought our shooting boots were off today. We had great chances and, to play like that, as well as we did, and end up fifth in the league as opposed to second – it’s incredible.”

Going behind had been a shock but Arbroath came back very well. “You forget your status as a part-time club and you just get at them,” said Campbell. It would be “a different ball game” at Kilmarnock and he added: “We will go down and have a go at them. You’ve got to be big enough with your shape – your shape has to be strong.”

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