Celtic ace in Parkhead contract limbo as he guides Airdrie to epic play-off comeback


Jon Afolabi admits he poured his heart and soul into his performance during Airdrie’s astonishing Championship play-off semi-final comeback against Montrose – because he feared it would be his final game for the Diamonds.

The Irishman is on loan at New Broomfield from Celtic after a February switch and climbed off the bench to help spark a revival the Diamonds fans will likely never see again.

After losing the first leg 1-0 in Angus, a Cammy F Ballantyne brace had Montrose 3-0 up on aggregate with 52 minutes on the clock.

But Airdrie rallied in dramatic fashion to win the tie 6-4 on the day and 6-5 on aggregate after extra-time.

Afolabi was a 70th minute substitute and set up one of the goals for second half hat-trick hero Callum Smith, before Calum Gallagher’s 87th minute strike forced extra-time at 4-4 on aggregate.

In the 105th minute, outstanding Afolabi got on the scoresheet himself with a composed finish before fellow sub Gabby McGill’s 119th minute strike proved decisive for Ian Murray’s men.

And Afolabi, whose side now play Queen’s Park in the final over two legs next week, revealed: “It could have been my last game for the club so I just wanted to give it my all and whatever happens, happens.

“I’m so delighted I helped turn it around.

Afolabi (L) celebrates scoring in extra time to make it 5-3

“The gaffer said before I went on: Just go and give everything and show what you’re capable of.

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“And that’s what I tried to do on the pitch.

“That’s the reason you play football, for moments like that.

“It was great to fully turn the tie around. To be three goals down and win the way we did is just exceptional.

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“Everyone is all buzzing. It was a great effort from the lads and as soon as we’d made the scoreline equal, we would have been proud of each other no matter what happened.

“To go the whole way is just great.

“Everyone will be full of confidence for the end.

“No matter what team goes out there and plays, everyone is going to be willing each other to go that bit further.”

Airdrie’s Jonathan Afolabi (L) celebrates scoring in extra time to make it 5-3

The 22-year-old forward is out of contract with Celtic at the end of the season, but hopes his efforts will encourage the Hoops to take up the option of a one-year extension to his Parkhead deal.

Afolabi, who made his Diamonds debut in a 4-1 league win over Montrose in February, explained: “Celtic haven’t said anything yet, but they have the option to extend it next season.

“Hopefully moments like this can help that, that’s the only thing I can say at the moment.

“I don’t have a clue what will happen. I haven’t been thinking about next season yet.

“I’m just concentrating on Airdrie and we’ll see where I go after that.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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