January 2, 2023
cinch League 1
Callum Smith 6, 59
Calum Gallagher 14
Jay Riley 🟥 83
Danny Handling 37 pen, 52 pen
Jack Brydon 45
Ouzy See 73
Callum Crane 90+3
It was not a happy new year for Airdrie as FC Edinburgh capitalised on a catalogue of errors to turn around a two goal deficit.
A fantastic start for the home side ultimately came to nothing as the Citizens continued their good run of results against the Diamonds.
Rhys McCabe named the same starting XI that won handsomely at Montrose just before Christmas, but there were places on the bench for new signings Jay Riley, Ben Stanway and Bright Prince.
2023 couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for the Airdrie fans as they watched their team completely dominate the opening stages.
Early chances for Calum Gallagher and Gabby McGill were well defended by the visitors, but a sublime touch from Callum Smith led to the opening goal after just six minutes.
Adam Frizzell sprayed a pass to the striker from the halfway line, and Smith controlled before knocking the ball through Jack Brydon’s legs and racing through on goal, where Robbie Mutch’s touch wasn’t enough to keep the finish from nestling in the net.
The visitors’ first attack came through wide midfielder Ryan Shanley, who cut in from the right and curled a strike over Dean Lyness’s crossbar.
Airdrie continued their high press and it took an important touch from Brydon to stop a 10th-minute Charlie Telfer cross from landing perfectly for Gallagher.
The Diamonds’ number 9 was once again in the right place at the right time six minutes later, and this time he converted with Cammy Ballantyne the architect. The full-back took possession deep inside his own half before a powerful run took him to the bye-line where he picked out Gallagher unmarked at the far post.
Gallagher almost turned provider on 18 minutes, squaring the ball for McGill at the end of another flowing passage of play, but Liam Fontaine was well positioned to clear behind for a corner.
A rare Edinburgh break came midway through the half, but Kyle Jacobs fluffed his lines after Frizzell’s slip allowed the midfielder a sight of goal.
Strong running from Smith on 27 minutes created a chance for Ballantyne, but Fontaine was again on hand to block.
With ten minutes of the half remaining Ballantyne went down in the Edinburgh box and was deemed unfit to continue, with Northern Irish recruit Jay Riley taking his place.
As the Diamonds reorganised, FC Edinburgh almost found a way through with Lyness touching Shanley’s shot onto the bar after a loose pass had freed the former Hibs youngster.
On 37 minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty as Lyness saved a close-range header from Callum Crane, with Riley adjudged to have handled the Edinburgh man as he stooped to connect. Danny Handling converted with aplomb, and Alan Maybury’s side were back in the game.
Airdrie hit back with a surging run from Euan Deveney, but Telfer’s ball into the box failed to trouble Mutch.
The sucker-punch came right on half-time as another dead-ball led to FC Edinburgh’s equaliser. Riley was booked for a misjudged challenge which led to a free-kick being swung into the box by James Craigen, and McCabe’s defensive touch looped into the path of Brydon who angled a header beyond Lyness to level the score.
Airdrie started the second half pushing to restore their advantage, and Mutch had to race to the edge of his box to beat McGill to a high ball four minutes after the restart.
Three minutes later the visitors had a second penalty kick, Shanley wriggling away from Watson on the touchline and referee Calum Scott pointing to the spot as the defender leaned into the Edinburgh midfielder inside the box.
Handling once again stepped up to show his accuracy from the spot, and the first-footers had the lead for the first time in the match.
Their tails up, Edinburgh could have increased their lead on 56 minutes, substitute Ouzy See combining with former Diamonds loanee Innes Murray to tee up Crane, who clipped the post before McCabe made an outstanding block to deny See.
Airdrie were back on level terms three minutes later, Smith bending his run to stay on side for McCabe’s raking forward pass and smashing in an angled drive which looped over Mutch via a deflection from Brydon.
The game now flowing from end to end, Lyness blocked a 65th-minute Murray effort with his legs before Mutch beat McGill to another long pass from McCabe.
The capital side went back in front eight minutes later, a well-placed corner from the right looping over the crowd of players in the six-yard box and leaving See to pass home at the far post.
Airdrie sub Lewis Jamieson saw a strike deflected back to Mutch on 74 minutes before disaster struck for the Diamonds eight minutes later. Riley’s first touch left him stretching for the ball as Crane raced on, and the referee flashed a second yellow card and subsequent red to make it a bitterly disappointing debut for the youngster.
A number of feisty challenges were met with bookings in the closing stages, but Edinburgh’s numerical advantage made it difficult for Airdrie to create opportunities.
With everyone pushing forward deep into stoppage time, a slip from Frizzell allowed the visitors to break up the park, with Murray squaring for Crane to make it five.
A New Year to forget for the Diamonds, who slip back down to sixth place ahead of a trip to Balmoor to face bottom side Peterhead.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.