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August 20, 2022

cinch League 1





Gabby McGill 39
Calum Gallagher 83

Alloa Athletic


Airdrie got back to winning ways and continued to set the early pace in cinch League 1 with a 2-0 home win against Alloa Athletic.

Gabby McGill replaced Calum Gallagher in the only change from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Queen of the South, and with the temperature somewhat cooler the Diamonds got back to their high-tempo passing game.

The first chance of the match fell to defender Euan Deveney, who saw a rare right-footed effort gathered by Jay Hogarth inside the first minute.

Airdrie dominated the opening spell, knocking the ball about well, but chances were at a premium as a typically well-organised Wasps defence kept the Diamonds at bay.

Hogarth got behind an 11th-minute Adam Frizzell strike following player-manager Rhys McCabe's corner kick, and the visitors threatened nine minutes later when Ross MacIver pounced on Callum Fordyce’s headed passback, but Murray Johnson reacted well to block at the striker’s feet.

Callum Smith sent a low shot wide against his old side on 27 minutes, with Gabby McGill unlucky to see Frizzell’s touch take a Cammy Ballantyne cross out of his path when a tap-in looked inevitable four minutes later.

Hogarth, the son of former Diamonds keeper Myles, saved again from Ballantyne just after the half-hour mark.

The impressive Lewis Jamieson showed fast feet to burst into a crowded box a minute later, but his effort came back off a defender.

Smith turned the ball home from a header across goal in Airdrie’s next attack, but the referee’s assistant signalled an offside even though the ball had not appeared to move forward.

The offside flag was beaten in style by McGill on 39 minutes, the striker timing his run perfectly to get on to Craig Watson’s lofted pass, and the Englishman rattled an angled shot across Hogarth and into the net.

Alloa responded immediately with Conor Sammon nodding on a free-kick, but none of the Wasps players queuing at the back post could manage a touch.

Mark Durnan touched behind a Smith cross following a clever pass from McGill, with the former Falkirk defender holding his breath as his header looked like it might sneak inside the post.

Airdrie were left wondering how they didn’t manage to add a second on 43 minutes, Hogarth spilling a powerful Frizzell strike before blocking twice and eventually pouncing on the loose ball as Airdrie’s strikers tried to force it home.

The Diamonds took their narrow lead into the break thanks to an outstanding Johnson save on the stroke of half-time, Sammon’s header dipping toward the top corner before the loanee keeper flung himself across to touch the ball onto the bar.

There were changes for both sides at half-time, with Cameron O’Donnell replacing Murray Miller for the visitors while McGill succumbed to a rib knock and made way for Calum Gallagher.

Airdrie had the first of two penalty claims denied two minutes after the restart, Ballantyne being hauled to the ground after bustling into the box. As play raged on the ball was returned to Justin Devenny, who almost scored an early goal of the season contender but was unfortunate to see his acrobatic overhead kick fly wide of the upright.

Smith put the ball over on 53 minutes after an incisive passing move as the Diamonds continued to apply the pressure.

Hogarth saved from Frizzell five minutes later, with Durnan penalised for a push as he headed the ball home from a 59th-minute corner.

Jamieson continued to look lively upfront, with Hogarth saving a near-post strike on 61 minutes before another penalty shout was turned down as Frizzell was taken out just inside the box.

Gallagher and Jamieson linked well after 74 minutes, with McCabe sending a strike over the bar after his initial effort was blocked.

Another save from Hogarth prevented Smith doubling the Diamonds’ lead on 77 minutes, while Johnson dealt with a low effort from substitute Bradley Rodden three minutes later.

Man of the match Frizzell blasted an 81st-minute shot wide of goal, but there was no denying Gallagher two minutes later. The striker was his usual predatory self after some fancy footwork had allowed Jamieson the space to curl a good strike off the post.

Safe hands from Johnson in stoppage time ensured another clean sheet for Airdrie, who return to the top of the table having only conceded once on league duty. Although it is too early to read anything into league positions, next week’s top-of-the-table tie against Dunfermline Athletic already seems a mouthwatering prospect.

Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.

Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.

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