Airdrie got their pre-season off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory at Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers.
First team coach Kevin McBride took the opportunity to give all 18 players listed for the pre-season fixture in the Borders a run out.
Ian McMillan’s Airdrie debut came in Gala almost 70 years ago, and his grandson Iain Russell was to follow in the family footsteps with his own first start there.
Adam Brown bagged a couple while Ciaran Reilly also scored and there were chances to have added to that tally.
The home side started on the front foot and threatened on two occasions in the first ten minutes.
Central defender Joe Gorman was alert to a decent through ball in behind the Airdrie back line to reach and clear the danger after seven minutes, while a minute later as the home side made good headway down the left, the cross was cross was overhit and any threat was gone.
Marc Fitzpatrick and Adam Brown were linking well between the defence and front line of Iain Russell and Andy Ryan with good pace in their movement upfield.
With 12 minutes played Russell was marginally offside after a neat picked out pass from his skipper.
Brown went close to opening the scoring on 13 minutes after he drilled a low angled shot from the right just wide of goal, after he controlled 18-year-old Conor Bell’s back post cross.
A measure of Airdrie’s quick thinking came in 17 minutes after Rohan Ferguson plucked a dangerous cross out of the air. The keeper’s throw was immediate and accurate and found Brown down the right touchline. He cut inside then sent a diagonal pass to Russell who was quick but was able to win a corner.
A spell of good possession followed and the visitors took the lead in 23 minutes.
A well placed through ball by Sean McIntosh found Conor McLaughlin just inside the penalty area. He controlled the ball then saw his shot well saved by the Gala keeper, but Brown was quickest to react and sent a low show into the net to open the scoring.
Two minutes later Andy Ryan curled a 25-yard free kick wide to the right of goal, but soon after the lively striker went down with a knock and left the field.
Russell and Fitzpatrick linked well in 35 minutes with the skipper also curling a low shot wide to the right of goal.
In first half stoppage time Ciaran Reilly - who had replaced Ryan - added the second goal.
Fitzpatrick took advantage of hesitation in the home defence before squaring the ball to Reilly who easily found the net.
Four half-time changes led to some adjustments being made, and it took a while for the flow of the match to get going again.
Five minutes after the restart, a fine run down the right saw Robbie Leighton weaving his way into the box, and the home defence were happy to make the clearance for a corner.
Two minutes later trialist James Daly’s threaded pass wide right gave Brown room to have a look at goal and he fired the ball powerfully into the far corner of the net for a 3-0 lead.
The home side were determined to get on the scoresheet. In 53 minutes young keeper Matthew Kerr made a decent save from a netbound volley to give him a decent start.
Gala's Jack Hay then headed a cross from the right for goal but watched as the ball struck the base of the post and was cleared upfield.
Daly had the chance to add a fourth goal in 68 minutes after good work by Brown, but although his shot had power, it sent the ball high over the target.
In 68 minutes Hugo Faria had a 20-yard shot well taken by the home keeper after a defender had blocked to take some of the power from the shot.
15 minutes from time Brown and Daly linked well, then the latter’s clipped shot was pushed away for a corner.
In 76 minutes keeper Kerr made a wonderful save from former Diamond Stuart Noble saving with his foot to turn the volley from ten yards over the crossbar.
With 78 minutes gone Airdrie had the ball in the net again, this time through Leighton who followed in after Scott Thomson's shot was saved, but an offside flag was shown.
Gala’s Aitchison went close with 11 minutes left, sending a 25 yard curling shot against the crossbar.
Determined to keep a clean sheet Kerr made another excellent save from a netbound angled volley, pushing the ball away for a corner in 86 minutes.
From the resulting delivery Michael Allan netted for the home side.
Brown had a late chance to nab a hat-trick in the 90th minute but curled his free kick over the crossbar.
Tougher tests will undoubtedly lie ahead but there was much to be pleased about in the way the players linked up during this match, many of whom were playing together for the first time.
John O'Brien at Netherdale.
Photographs © John Steven. Click to view full-size.