March 11, 2023
cinch League 1
Gabby McGill 19, 37, 56
Jack Milne 30 OG
Calum Gallagher 59
Callum Smith 79
Jamie Barjonas 85 pen
The Diamonds hit Kelty Hearts for six on a pleasing afternoon which saw Gabby McGill grab his first career hat-trick and Calum Gallagher stake a claim for Goal of the Season.
It was an emphatic return to form for Rhys McCabe’s side, who have suffered a difficult run in recent weeks, and moves them to within two points of third spot as they aim to finish the season in play-off contention.
There were four changes to the side which started against Queen of the South last weekend, with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Dean McMaster, Craig Watson and Justin Devenny replacing McCabe, Euan Deveney, Lachie Byrd and Charlie Telfer.
Experienced ex-Diamond Joe Cardle lined up in the visitors’ midfield.
The first chance of the match fell to Callum Smith, who had been presented with a framed strip to mark his recent 100th appearance prior to the match. Picking the ball up in the left corner, he danced into the box only to be denied by the knees of Darren Jamieson who closed down well.
A good spell of possession for the visitors followed, Cardle forcing a good save from Josh Rae with an effort which looked destined for the top corner.
The former Airdrie man did well again five minutes later, but this time Cammy Ballantyne got across to block the shot.
The Diamonds then began to take control of the match, a fierce Devenny effort being parried to safety by Jamieson on 19 minutes.
The keeper blocked well a minute later, Taylor-Sinclair’s angled shot drawing another save , but this time McGill was on hand to pick up the scraps, slotting home as the Jamieson scrambled across his goal-line.
Midway through the half the goalkeeper had to be alert to keep out Adam Frizzell’s low strike, but he was beaten again on the half-hour mark.
As Devenny’s free-kick was knocked back across by Gallagher, McGill challenged along with Ross Philp and Jack Milne and the ball was hooked into the net for an own goal.
Eight minutes later it was three, and Gallagher was once again the architect with a lovely reverse pass to pick out McGill, who rifled home his second of the match.
Kelty threatened again before the break, a powerful Alfredo Agyeman strike having to be watched closely by Rae, who saved again from the Ghanaian striker after a nice passing move.
Airdrie were straight on the offensive after half-time, Frizzell doing the right thing by sending a close range header into the ground, but the bounce allowed Jamieson to gather.
The visitors retaliated through Tidser, but his long-range 54th-minute effort didn’t trouble Rae.
A spell of deadly finishing put the result beyond doubt for the Diamonds. The front three combined on 56 minutes as Gallagher touched a long ball on to Smith, who split the defence with a slide rule pass which allowed McGill to touch past Jamieson and slot home from the angle to complete a fine hat-trick.
Two minutes later Airdrie got their fifth, and Calum Gallagher produced a sensational strike to increase his impressive tally for the season.
Winning possession on the halfway line, the striker dashed to the left corner of the box where he performed an outrageous pirouette to nutmeg Milne, and smashed the ball into the top corner. The disbelief on the faces of his team-mates said it all about a goal of wonderful quality.
With the New Central Park side reeling, Frizzell almost got in on the act on 62 minutes, sending a curler from the edge of the box just wide of the top corner. The midfielder found the target again 15 minutes later, only to be denied by a fingertip save from Jamieson.
Callum Fordyce and Gallagher went close with decent strikes as both sides began to make personnel changes.
Substitute Salim Kouider-Aïssa had a powerful effort blocked on 75 minutes, but it was Callum Smith who grabbed the sixth for Airdrie, knocking Telfer’s 78th-minute corner home with his shoulder.
Kelty had time for a consolation, Jamie Barjonas beating Rae from the spot after being bundled over by the otherwise impressive McMaster.
It was too little too late for the Fifers, who were no match for the rampant Diamonds on the day. Results elsewhere keep Airdrie fifth in the table, but now only two points from third place with another home match against Peterhead on the horizon.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.