February 18, 2023
cinch League 1
Nikolay Todorov 72
Ben Stanway 38
Josh Rae 🟥 82
Airdrie left East End Park with a point despite going down to ten men and facing a penalty kick for the second time in successive matches against Dunfermline.
Player-manager Rhys McCabe made two changes following last weekend’s late defeat to the league leaders, Craig Watson and Ben Stanway replacing Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and the suspended Callum Smith.
The Diamonds made a bright start, with Calum Gallagher’s pass almost finding Gabby McGill in the clear with five minutes on the clock.
Dunfermline were awarded a cheap free-kick six minutes later when Gallagher challenged for a header in the box, Deniz Mehmet smashing into the striker who was adjudged have pushed the goalkeeper.
As play began to open up, Adam Frizzell’s 13th-minute cross was just behind the unmarked McGill before the home side retaliated and Craig Wighton fired narrowly wide of the post.
McGill headed wide on 18 minutes and, as play raged from end to end, Josh Rae was out to make a smart save at the feet of Matty Todd.
Airdrie thought they had opened the scoring on 27 minutes, captain Callum Fordyce rising to smash a header against the junction of post and bar, but although the rebound seemed to cross the line referee Ross Hardie waved play on.
Stanway was finding good positions as the Diamonds continued to attack, and the midfielder forced a good diving save from Mehmet just after the half-hour mark before Frizzell and ex-Airdrie defender Josh Edward traded strikes.
It was Stanway who opened the scoring on 38 minutes. Gallagher won the ball to allow Charlie Telfer and Cammy Ballantyne to combine down the right, the latter playing a low square pass which Stanway steered home from six yards to grab his first senior goal.
Mehmet gathered a McGill shot on the stroke of half-time, and the Diamonds took their lead into the break.
Rae was in action early in the second half, the keeper looking confident as he claimed a cross from Kane Ritchie-Hosler before doing well to parry a powerful effort on 52 minutes.
Euan Deveney had to stretch to turn the ball behind seven minutes later as the home side intercepted a Diamonds corner and broke in numbers, with Airdrie replying through Frizzell who could only volley wide after McGill had nodded Deveney’s cross into his path.
Telfer almost netted a cheeky free-kick on 65 minutes, squeezing the ball in to the near post with players lining up at the back, but Mehmet did well to read it.
Dunfermline introduced the scorer of the winning goal last time out, Nikolay Todorov, and the striker’s physicality became a focal point for the Pars.
Within minutes the Bulgarian striker had the home fans on their feet as he powered a header off the inside of the post, but the celebrations were cut short as Rae smothered the loose ball on the line.
The big forward did find the net on 72 minutes, glancing a header beyond Rae as a short corner was worked into the box. With Rae tangled in the net with the ball in his hands a melee broke out in the goalmouth, leading to bookings for Dunfermline substitute Lewis McCann alongside Rae and Watson.
The caution soon led to disaster for Rae, who was adjudged to have deliberately tripped Wighton on 82 minutes, the referee pointing to the spot and flashing a second yellow and subsequent red card in the Airdrie keeper’s direction.
Scorer Stanway made way for veteran keeper David Hutton, and his first involvement had the visiting fans on their feet as he brilliantly saved Kyle Benedictus’s penalty.
The former Pars man performed further heroics two minutes later, clutching a goalbound Todorov volley.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Airdrie continued to push for a winner and McGill was unlucky not to get on the end of an 87th-minute Gallagher cross.
A late red card for Dunfermline assistant Dave McKay ended another day of controversial refereeing, and the final minutes were played out with neither team able to make the breakthrough.
A good point on the road for the Diamonds, who welcome Falkirk to the Excelsior next weekend as they attempt to consolidate third spot and make up some ground on the top two.
Stuart Mathie at East End Park.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.