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Stephen Craigan relishing Motherwell-Airdrie tie after Premier Sports Cup draw

Soccer – Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League – Motherwell v Hibernian – Fir Park
(Image credit: Lynne Cameron)

Motherwell fans can look forward to the return of the ‘real’ Lanarkshire derby after drawing Airdrie in the Premier Sports Cup, says former Fir Park skipper Stephen Craigan.

The Steelmen will take on their rivals for the first time in 14 years after being paired together in the group stage.

The derby foes have not met since Richie Foran scored the only goal in a Scottish Cup win at New Broomfield back in 2007.

In the meantime, the Well support have been forced to turn to showdowns against Hamilton to satisfy their thirst for local bragging rights.

Accies have now been relegated to the Championship but Motherwell and traditional foes Airdrie are once again on a collision course after Graham Alexander’s top seeds were pulled out of the hat alongside Ian Murray’s Diamonds, Queen of the South, Annan and Queen’s Park.

And Craigan cannot wait for the powder-keg clash.

“The Motherwell fans will be saying the real Lanarkshire derby is back,” he said.

“There’s no doubt that Hamilton and Motherwell have a rivalry but deep down, the Well fans would see their real rivalry being with Airdrie. It’s more deep-rooted with a little bit more intensity to it.

“I just hope both home and away fans are allowed into the ground at that stage because I think both would turn up in good numbers.

“It’s a long time since they have met in a competitive fixture. I played in that game back in January 2007 at Airdrie.

“I think I only played in one or two of those fixtures as Airdrie were unfortunately in the second or third tier but the Motherwell fans will certainly be looking forward to this one.”

Callum Davidson’s League Cup holders St Johnstone, who made it a double after adding the Scottish Cup to last season’s incredible haul, have been handed a bye to the second round along with new Scottish champions Rangers and fellow European entrants Celtic, Hibernian and Aberdeen.

But last year’s League Cup runners up Livingston will quick off their quest for a Hampden return against Raith Rovers, Alloa, Cowdenbeath and Brechin after being drawn in Group D.

Championship winners Hearts face four tricky ties against northern opposition after ending up in Group A alongside Inverness, Peterhead, Stirling and Cove Rangers.

Kilmarnock are still reeling after being relegated from the Premiership earlier this week but there is some positive news for their cup hopes after Tommy Wright’s team landed a favourable draw in Group G, with Greenock Morton, Clyde, Stranraer and East Kilbride for opposition.

Games will take place over five rounds of matches spread between July 10 and July 25. The final list of fixtures is still to be confirmed.

Premier Sports Cup group stage draw:

Group A – Hearts, Inverness, Peterhead, Cove Rangers, Stirling Albion.

Group B – Dundee Utd, Arbroath, East Fife, Elgin, Kelty Hearts.

Group C – Ross County, Dundee, Forfar, Montrose, Brora Rangers.

Group D – Livingston, Raith Rovers, Alloa, Cowdenbeath, Brechin.

Group E – Hamilton, Ayr United, Falkirk, Albion Rovers, Edinburgh City.

Group F – Motherwell, Queen of the South, Airdrie, Annan, Queen’s Park.

Group G – Kilmarnock, Greenock Morton, Clyde, Stranraer, East Kilbride.

Group H – St Mirren, Dunfermline, Stenhousemuir, Partick Thistle, Dumbarton.