July 2, 2023
NL Cup final
Cammy Ballantyne 6
Gabby McGill 12 pen, 39
Nikolay Todorov 59, 77
Airdrie took home the NL Cup for the second successive year after putting five past an Albion Rovers side made up largely of trialists.
There were doubles for strikers Gabby McGill and Nikolay Todorov, with Cammy Ballantyne playing a captain’s role by opening the scoring early in the match.
Only Ballantyne and Callum Fordyce survived from the starting XI which beat Motherwell 4-0 yesterday, with manager Rhys McCabe naming himself as one of the nine changes.
A bright start for Rovers saw one of their nine starting trialists head wide from a second-minute corner, but it was the Diamonds who took the lead four minutes later, Ballantyne pouncing on a slack pass and striding forward before sliding a low shot beyond keeper Ross Connelly.
Todorov saw his first shot on goal deflected back to Connelly after some impressive work by new signing Elliot Dunlop on nine minutes, but three minutes later Airdrie had a penalty after Ballantyne had been brought down in the box. Up stepped Gabby McGill to double the Diamonds’ lead.
Justin Devenny had the next chance for Airdrie, but his view of the cross was obscured and he snatched at his volley, sending it well over the bar.
McGill got his second six minutes before half-time, gathering a lofted pass from Fordyce and turning well before cleverly reversing his shot across Connelly, who was helpless as the effort found the net.
Todorov was unlucky again two minutes later, Connelly reacting well to scoop out the striker’s header.
The visitors had a chance to pull one back on the stroke of half-time as a handball was missed by the referee, but the error went unpunished as a heavy touch allowed David Hutton to gather.
Devenny found Todorov with a low cross nine minutes into the second half, but on this occasion the Bulgarian forward missed the target.
Three minutes later Connelly was on hand to deny McGill a hat-trick, saving well from the Diamonds striker.
Just before the hour mark Todorov got his first Airdrie goal, racing to the back post to meet McGill’s cross and head home from close range.
A number of changes from both sides interrupted the flow of play, but Airdrie never looked like conceding control of the match and it was no surprise when Todorov got his second, reacting to power home the loose ball after Connelly had saved well from Diamonds sub Alasdair Spalding.
Chances for both sides came in the last five minutes as one of the many Rovers trialists wasted a good opportunity before the Coatbridge side’s substitute keeper saved well from Dom Kavanagh.
The final whistle brought an end to a good weekend for the Diamonds, who hit nine goals without reply across their two matches and celebrated with the trophy for a second time.
Stuart Mathie at Broadwood Stadium
Photos © Stuart Dalzell. Click to view full-size.