February 25, 2023
cinch League 1
Calum Gallagher 10
Gary Oliver 44
Kai Kennedy 51, 72
Falkirk came from behind to secure three points against Airdrie with a strong second-half display.
Diamonds manager Rhys McCabe went with the same outfield players who started against Dunfermline Athletic last weekend, with Hibs loanee replacing the suspended Josh Rae in goal.
John McGlynn’s Bairns had two former Airdrie men in their squad, with Jordan Allan listed among the substitutes while Leon McCann started the match.
Adam Frizzell went twice in the early stages, Falkirk’s West Ham loanee goalkeeper Brian Kinnear reacting well to a sixth-minute half volley before the midfielder chipped over the bar three minutes later.
With ten minutes on the clock Airdrie took the lead, and it was a fine finish from Calum Gallagher to break the deadlock. Cammy Ballantyne’s ball out of defence was nodded on by Gabby McGill, and as Kinnear raced to the edge of his box Gallagher had the presence of mind to lob the goalkeeper from outside the area.
Frizzell was unlucky not to benefit from a deflected Charlie Telfer strike three minutes later, Kinnear beating the Airdrie man to the loose ball, and Telfer then smashed into the side netting as the Diamonds threatened to increase their lead.
Ben Stanway was next to have a go for the home side, sending a low shot narrowly wide as play opened up in front of him.
A 21st-minute Euan Deveney cross almost sneaked in under the bar, but the tall figure of Kinnear made the catch before pulling off the save of the match two minutes later with a fine parry from McGill’s powerful effort.
Falkirk were enjoying decent spells of possession, but it took them until the 25-minute mark to have their first real chance on goal, Callum Fordyce blocking well from Aidan Nesbitt.
Johnson then showed safe hands to field a Liam Henderson header before the same player shot wide on the turn.
Kinnear denied McGill again with 30 minutes on the clock, saving bravely at the striker’s feet after an unselfish pass from Gallagher.
Falkirk got their equaliser just before half-time, their high press paying off as Gary Oliver squeezed a near-post header past Johnson to make it 1-1.
A minute later Airdrie had a penalty, Kinnear unable to hold Frizzell’s low cross and McCann upending Ballantyne as he raced onto the ball.
Telfer stepped up to take the kick, but was unable to restore the lead against his former club as Kinnear saved with his feet.
Callum Smith replaced Stanway at half-time and the striker almost had the Diamonds back in front straight away, winning possession in the box before the visiting defence scrambled clear.
Falkirk were looking for a penalty of their own as the ball struck an Airdrie hand in the box on 50 minutes, but referee Greg Aitken indicated that no foul had been committed.
Within a minute the Bairns were in front, Callumn Morrison crossing for Kai Kennedy who hooked the ball beyond Johnson.
McGill almost took advantage of some slack defending by Coll Donaldson on 57 minutes, but was unfortunate to see his shot deflected straight to Kinnear.
The West Ham loanee made a fine double-save seven minutes later, denying Frizzell then Smith as it began to look like the Diamonds’ luck was out.
Falkirk took advantage on 72 minutes, Johnson saving well from Morrison before hesitant defending allowed Kennedy the chance to slam home his second.
Morrison could have got his own name on the scoresheet five minutes later, but his lofted effort drifted wide.
Craig Watson came close to a spectacular 81st-minute strike, arrowing a shot for the top corner and only narrowly missing the target.
As Airdrie struggled to find a way back into the match, Falkirk sub Matthew Wright missed an open goal with four minutes remaining, and with Smith missing Airdrie’s final chance deep into stoppage time, the points went back to Falkirk.
The result sees Airdrie drop out of the play-off positions after three weeks of matches against the top two, and the Diamonds will be aiming to bounce back straight away as they travel to Palmerston Park to face Queen of the South next weekend.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.