November 19, 2022

cinch League 1

Airdrieonians

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1-0

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Calum Gallagher 70

Kelty Hearts

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A poacher’s finish from Calum Gallagher was enough to secure a home win over Kelty Hearts as Airdrie made it four unbeaten ahead of their Scottish Cup break.

With player-manager Rhys McCabe missing out through illness, Dean McMaster came into the midfield for the Diamonds, while former Airdrie man Joe Cardle started for the visitors who named Scott McGill among the substitutes.

Having struggled to find width in the first meeting at New Central Park, Airdrie looked to use the bigger pitch to their advantage as they attacked down both wings in the early stages, Charlie Telfer’s fourth-minute cross just evading Gallagher before Justin Devenny picked out Craig Watson, who headed over, three minutes later.

Devenny saw a stinging effort deflected behind in the 18th minute, with Kelty keeper Darren Jamieson gathering a Cammy Ballantyne effort on 21 minutes.

Dean Lyness’s first involvement came just before the half-hour mark, but Agyeman’s close range header was easy for the big goalkeeper.

Callum Smith’s pace was causing problems for the visitors’ defence, and the striker tore past Jordon Forster on 31 minutes only to see his cutback booted clear. When the ball was returned to the box the Kelty defender was extremely fortunate to see his defensive header bullet just past his own post.

Lewis Jamieson fired over two minutes later, with Ballantyne then going close again after Gallagher’s shot had been well blocked.

Darren Jamieson gathered a curling Smith effort as Airdrie looked to increase the pressure, but Kelty should have gone ahead when they found themselves flooding the box on 40 minutes, a shot flying wide when a simple pass would have been the better option.

Having stood up to Airdrie’s pressure throughout the first half, John Potter’s side started the second period brightly and forced Lyness to come out and gather a dangerous cross a minute after the restart.

Jamieson drew a routine save from his Jamieson on 55 minutes before glancing a header away from goal after a thrusting run by Euan Deveney.

Lyness did well to save a powerful low strike from Agyeman after 59 minutes, with Darren Lyon scooping a shot well over the bar a minute later.

Agyeman did well to keep possession on the bye-line just after the hour mark, and though his angled shot was well blocked the ball sat up kindly for Cardle, who didn’t do much wrong but was denied by an excellent point-blank save by Lyness.

Smith saw a 66th-minute cross hacked away as the Diamonds tried to regain control of the match, and a nice move brought the only goal of the game four minutes later.

Ballantyne and Jamieson combined to pick out the overlapping run of Watson, who played the ball in to Telfer to lay off to Jamieson who had continued his run. The in-form striker’s curling shot was blocked by his namesake, but the keeper couldn’t hold on and Gallagher was once again in the right place to turn home with his left foot.

Airdrie should have added a second after a superb passing move involving McMaster, Telfer and Jamieson on 78 minutes, but Smith was twice denied by last-ditch blocks.

With ten minutes remaining Agyeman fired over from the corner of the box, and six minutes later Jamieson forced another good save from the Kelty number one as he drove in from the left flank.

Substitute McGill’s cross was just too high for Jamie Barjonas with two minutes to play, and a routine Lyness save in stoppage time ended Kelty’s hopes of an equaliser.

A good three points for the Diamonds who remain in sixth place but are now only three points from second as the League 1 congestion continues.

A break from league duty lies ahead for Rhys McCabe’s men as they travel to face Dundee in the Scottish Cup third round next weekend.

Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.

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