July 23, 2022
Premier Sports Cup Group E
Michael McKenna 12
Kieran Shanks 48
Jason Thomson 60
Airdrie failed to qualify from Premier Sports Cup Group E after a disappointing performance at Arbroath which saw the Championship side maintain their 100% record to go through.
The Diamonds were brought back to earth with a bump after Tuesday’s heroics against St Mirren, with the Gayfield men winning 3-0 in the final group fixture.
David Hutton made his first start since returning to the club in the summer, with Josh Rae only deemed fit enough for the bench. Cole Gibson replaced the suspended Cammy Ballantyne in Rhys McCabe’s only other change.
Former Diamond Scott Stewart lined up for Dick Campbell’s side, who have retained much of the squad which saw them win promotion to the Championship three years ago.
A bright start by the Diamonds saw the big frame of Derek Gaston blocking Callum Smith’s shot after the striker had raced on to an eighth-minute ball over the top, with David Gold sending a header wide of the Airdrie goal a minute later.
On twelve minutes the home side were in front as a long diagonal ball caught the Airdrie defence flat-footed. As Hutton raced out to the corner of the box, he was beaten to the ball by former team-mate Stewart, who clipped in a low cross for Michael McKenna to turn home.
A spell of Arbroath pressure followed, but it was Airdrie who were next to threaten as Adam Frizzell raced inside and crossed from a tight angle, with Gaston catching at his near post.
McCabe’s 28th-minute free-kick cleared the bar as Airdrie began to find their way back into the match, with Gabby McGill chipping Gaston but failing to keep his shot on target from Frizzell’s through-ball a minute later.
Another one-on-one opportunity came the Diamonds’ way on 34 minutes, Smith pouncing on some careless defending and firing in a shot which went behind off Gaston’s arm as the goalkeeper stood strong. The former Albion Rovers man held Craig Watson’s curling effort from the resultant corner.
Calum Gallagher sent a powerful effort over the bar with six minutes of the half remaining, Hutton saving Gold’s header a minute later.
As half-time approached Smith was harshly adjudged to have committed a foul as some nice footwork took him towards the box, and Bobby Linn saw his low drive saved by Hutton.
Although a goal behind, the Diamonds may have felt they had the better of the first half - but the roles were reversed after the break with Arbroath launching an early assault on Hutton’s goal.
Two minutes after the restart Kieran Shanks doubled his side’s lead, tapping home after Hutton had parried Gold’s volley from point-blank range.
Their tails up, the home side sought to kill the game off, with Nicky Low forcing a good block from Watson on 52 minutes before Hutton saved well a minute later.
Arbroath somehow kept out Frizzell’s 54th-minute effort as keeper and defenders combined to turn the ball round the post, with Hutton saving from Linn as play moved from end to end.
Hutton twice denied Low as the hour-mark approached, saving two long-range efforts without too much trouble.
The veteran keeper was beaten on 60 minutes, however, denying Low once again but this time only able to palm the ball into the path of skipper Thomas O’Brien, who nodded home from close range.
Colin Hamilton saw an ambitious effort saved before Airdrie had strong penalty claims turned down, Smith’s flick taking Gaston out of the game with a defender wrestling the Airdrie man to the floor as he attempted to turn the ball home.
Four substitutions for the home side disrupted the flow of the match, but a slick passing move down the Airdrie left ended with Frizzell firing over after 73 minutes.
Home sub Daniel Fosu was denied by McCabe’s sliding tackle with 13 minutes remaining, and seven minutes later Gaston got lucky with a ricochet off a defender taking Airdrie sub Salim Kouider-Aïssa’s volley into his grasp.
Kouider-Aïssa saw another angled effort fly over the bar with two minutes to play, and there were no further chances for either side as the final whistle brought an end to Airdrie’s Premier Sports Cup involvement.
Stuart Mathie at Gayfield Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.