May 6, 2023
cinch League 1
Danny Handling 62 pen
Calum Gallagher 15
Gabby McGill 54, 75
Corrie Fellows 68
Airdrie ensured a third-place finish in cinch League 1 with an impressive win against FC Edinburgh, with in-form strikers Calum Gallagher and Gabby McGill joining debutant Corrie Fellows on the scoresheet.
With Tuesday’s home play-off fixture already assured, Diamonds boss Rhys McCabe handed a first start to Academy full-back Fellows, while Cammy Ballantyne, Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, Lewis McGregor, Dean McMaster and Gabby McGill also returned to the line-up.
Ex-Airdrie players Kieran MacDonald and Innes Murray started for the home side, who narrowly missed out on play-off contention after an impressive first season in League 1.
Having netted 14 times in three league matches against the Diamonds, Alan Maybury’s side were first to threaten, Murray’s first-minute cross almost catching Josh Rae out at the near post, but the Airdrie keeper got across to make a one-handed save.
Sam Ramsbottom dealt with a Ballantyne cross on 12 minutes, but the Diamonds made the breakthrough three minutes later.
McMaster pressed well to intercept a pass out of defence and found Gallagher, who sidestepped a challenge and the despairing lunge of Ramsbottom before tucking away his 23rd goal of an impressive season.
The home side responded by launching balls forward, but Rae, Taylor-Sinclair and Lachie Byrd easily dealt with the threat.
McGregor screwed an 18th-minute effort wide of the post before Ballantyne saw an effort deflected wide seven minutes later.
A 29th-minute James Craigen effort flew high over the bar, with Charlie Telfer narrowly missing the top corner at the other end on 36 minutes.
McGill went close with three minutes of the first half remaining, but the Diamonds had to settle for a slender lead at the break.
Airdrie doubled their advantage nine minutes after the restart, and Gallagher turned provider. Taking a pass from McGill, the striker lofted an excellent pass into the path of his partner, who rose high to guide a perfect header into the bottom corner.
Rae beat away John Robertson’s near-post effort a minute later before Ramsbottom saved a long-range Gallagher effort.
FC Edinburgh were handed the chance to mount a fightback after 62 minutes when substitute Elijah Anukam went down under a Fellows challenge in the box. Citizens top scorer Danny Handling netted from the spot for the fourth time in five meetings between the sides this season.
Airdrie sub Callum Smith was denied by a good sliding challenge on 66 minutes, but Airdrie restored their advantage two minutes later.
Fellows made up for his penalty misdemeanour in some style, picking up a pass on the halfway line and striding through a packed Edinburgh defence before shifting the ball onto his right foot and passing beyond Ramsbottom for a fine solo goal.
There was time for an assist for goalkeeper Rae, who launched a free-kick from midway inside his own half. McGill’s intelligent run allowed him to take full advantage of hesistancy in the home defence, beating Ramsbottom to the bounce and nodding home his second of the match.
Adam Frizzell was unlucky not to add to the score after coming off the bench, his 78th-minute effort deflected behind before McGregor was denied by a good block a minute later.
An energetic cameo for Academy midfielder Kyan Gunn topped off an impressive day in the capital, with Airdrie atoning for previous defeats against the League 1 new boys, but it was the impressive Fellows who deservedly took the headlines following an eye-catching debut.
The third-place finish ensures a play-off semi-final against rivals Falkirk, with the first leg on Tuesday evening at the Excelsior.
Photos © John Steven. Click to view full-size.