April 1, 2023
cinch League 1
Craig Watson 42
Airdrie produced a battling win to leapfrog Alloa into third place in League 1, with Craig Watson bagging a thunderous strike fit to win any match.
Player-manager Rhys McCabe made one change from the side which won at Clyde last Friday night, dropping himself for the returning Aaron Taylor-Sinclair who swapped the sandy beaches of Antigua for the slightly less glamorous Indodrill.
The Diamonds got off to a quick start, and having scored in the second minute against Peterhead and Clyde, Gabby McGill was almost at it again with a looping effort which went just over the bar with Jay Hogarth stranded.
Two minutes later the Airdrie defence had to mop up as Josh Rae slipped while making a clearance, which slammed off skipper Callum Fordyce before being cleared.
The Diamonds’ quick movement in the final third almost paid dividends on 11 minutes, Callum Smith dancing away from two defenders before squaring to Adam Frizzell, who slammed a strike off the Alloa bar.
The home side hit back through Kevin Cawley, who hooked his shot wide a minute later, then on 18 minutes Quinn Coulson had an open goal to hit after intercepting Rae’s kick-out, but his effort spun wide.
Calum Gallagher was unlucky with a 23rd-minute header with McGill volleying wide two minutes later after a Justin Devenny free-kick had been cleared into the Englishman’s path.
A tense midfield battle followed with neither side able to make inroads on goal for almost twenty minutes, but defender Watson popped up three minutes before half-time with a wonder-strike.
Smith and McGill combined well just inside the box, but the latter’s heavy touch allowed Scott Taggart to get a foot in, only for Watson to stride in from the right wing and fizz a first-time effort past Hogarth and into the net.
Airdrie looked capable of increasing their lead early in the second half, Hogarth saving well as McGill span on to Smith’s cross following a dummy from Gallagher.
The keeper got an important touch to Smith’s 50th-minute effort which looked set to nestle in the net, but the Diamonds had to instead settle for a corner.
Two minutes later Gallagher had a shot blocked after a brave header by the industrious Cammy Ballantyne put the striker through.
For all that Alloa were providing the usual tough encounter, Rae didn’t have much to do in the Diamonds goal but showed safe hands when called upon, claiming a 54th-minute corner before tipping a headed effort over the bar four minutes later.
On the hour mark George Stanger’s touch almost ended up in his own net, but it whistled past the post.
A number of changes for both sides changed the dynamic of the match midway through the half, with the Wasps beginning to throw men forward, but it was Airdrie sub Charlie Telfer who had the next sight on goal with Hogarth gathering comfortably.
As the home side threw balls into the box late on, Rae was commanding his area well, and the final whistle saw a huge three points heading back to Airdrie.
With some favourable results elsewhere, the Diamonds can now look forward to a home tie against Montrose as they attempt to consolidate third place in the table.
Stuart Mathie at The Indodrill Stadium.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.