July 19, 2022
Premier Sports Cup Group E
Justin Devenny 66
Kyan Gunn 90+5
Greg Kiltie 🟥 33
Airdrie continued their unbeaten start under Rhys McCabe, beating Premiership St Mirren 2-0 thanks to goals from Justin Devenny and Kyan Gunn.
Much about the result paralleled last season’s win over Motherwell at the same stage - the July midweek fixture, the sweltering temperature, and the terrific performance and 2-0 scoreline.
Calum Gallagher returned to the Diamonds line-up, having recovered from illness, with academy signing Cole Gibson dropping to the bench. Striker Salim Kouider-Aïssa was named among the substitutes, bringing an 8-month injury nightmare to an end.
Airdrie showed a willingness to move the ball forward from the kick-off, but it was the visitors who were first to get a sight of goal, Greg Kiltie foiled by the offside flag after a quick move down the left.
Euan Deveney was attacking well, and won an eighth-minute corner after running onto McCabe’s diagonal pass before Gallagher had a shot blocked seven minutes later.
Charles Dunne flicked a header wide on 16 minutes, with the Buddies’ weekend goal hero Jonah Ayunga firing straight at Rae shortly after.
Gabby McGill was flagged offside as he ran onto Callum Smith’s 28th-minute through ball, before Kiltie fired wide after controlling well on the turn.
A Deveney shot was blocked as Airdrie countered, but the Airdrie full-back was on the wrong end of a horribly-mistimed challenge on 33 minutes. As the Diamonds man ran in to knock on a high ball, Kiltie launched a high challenge which caught Deveney on the head.
Although the contact was clearly unintentional, the tackle was reckless and left referee Alan Muir no choice but to show a straight red card as Deveney headed up the tunnel with a gaping wound.
Stephen Robinson quickly changed his personnel and shape, and Scott Tanser had a decent effort deflected wide with both teams down to ten men.
Airdrie retaliated through McGill, who lashed an effort just wide of the target before Deveney returned to the field and showed he was suffering no ill effects with a superb run down the left.
Justin Devenny’s 44th-minute corner was headed home by Callum Fordyce, but the linesman’s flag was up signalling the ball had gone out of play.
Airdrie had a golden opportunity to open the scoring in first-half stoppage time as Adam Frizzell combined with Deveney to carve open the St Mirren defence, but the cutback was slightly behind Smith who could only snatch at his shot.
Frizzell went close with a powerful effort three minutes after the restart, before Gallagher was crowded out at the front post from McGill’s 51st-minute cutback.
Josh Rae had to show his agility to get down to a deflected Alex Greive effort three minutes later, with opposite number Peter Urminsky palming a Deveney effort wide on 59 minutes.
Airdrie’s dominance was beginning to show, and it was no surprise when the Diamonds went in front on 66 minutes. McCabe teed Craig Watson up to burst down the right, playing a one-two with McGill and squaring for Smith. The striker’s first-time effort was blocked by Declan Gallagher, but Devenny had made the back-post run and slammed the loose ball beyond Urminsky to give the home side the lead.
As St Mirren made changes in an attempt to find a way back into the game, Airdrie continued to threaten, Frizzell’s 72nd-minute curler just clearing the crossbar.
Ethan Erhahon flicked a header straight at Rae a minute later before substitute Eamoonn Brophy tried his luck from distance, his shot going well over the bar.
Kouider-Aïssa made his long-awaited comeback with ten minutes remaining, with 17-year-olds Gibson and Gunn also getting a taste of first-team action.
McGill’s 86th-minute effort was straight at Urminsky, with the big keeper also saving from Kouider-Aïssa after a slide-rule pass from Gunn.
The visitor’s final chance fell to Erhahon, who watched Rae claw the ball to safety after peeling away from the back post two minutes into stoppage time.
Gunn added the icing on the cake in the 95th minute, tapping home after Watson’s brilliant long throw had sent McGill racing toward goal. Getting the better of substitute Joe Shaughnessy, the striker unselfishly square for Gunn to grab a goal on his Diamonds debut.
A well deserved victory against a side who play their trade two divisions higher, and a result which gives Airdrie the chance to qualify with another positive result against Arbroath on Saturday.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.