July 15, 2023
Viaplay Cup Group E
Nikolay Todorov 86
Lewis McGregor 89
Airdrie left it late to secure a win in the Viaplay Cup opener against Dumbarton, but Nikolay Todorov and Lewis McGregor produced the goods in the last five minutes to keep the three points at the Excelsior.
There were no starting debuts for any of Airdrie’s summer signings as Rhys McCabe went with the tried and tested for the first Group E match, but some impressive cameos from the bench helped to secure the points.
Stevie Farrell’s Dumbarton featured ex-Diamonds skipper Sean Crighton in defence, with Ryan Wallace another familiar face among the substitutes.
Newly-appointed club captain Adam Frizzell was the first to threaten for Airdrie, picking up a ball on the left and testing Brett Long, but the Sons keeper was equal to the shot.
Dumbarton retaliated through Michael Ruth, but his angled header cleared Josh Rae’s crossbar on three minutes.
The visitors should have taken the lead two minutes later, Ross MacLean finding himself with plenty of space at the far post after a whipped cross from the right, but he got his strike all wrong and missed the target.
Lewis McGregor showed his pace on 14 minutes, sprinting down the right and teeing up Gabby McGill who was denied by a good defensive block before McGregor himself saw an effort saved by Long.
McGregor was becoming the focal point for Airdrie’s attacks, and was unlucky to get his connection wrong after Aaron Taylor-Sinclair had sent him clear a minute later.
MacLean tried his luck from distance on 19 minutes, but Rae watched the striker’s effort sail wide before Long claimed a McGill header at the other end.
Rae was in action eight minutes later, saving at the feet of James Hilton with Long fielding another McGregor effort ten minutes from the break.
Sons skipper Mark Durnan saw his name on lights a minute later as Dean McMaster’s head clearance landed kindly for him, but the defender’s volley was wide of the target.
A moment of controversy came on 42 minutes as players challenged for the ball outside the Dumbarton box. A visiting defender played the ball in to Calum Gallagher, who duly finished only to be denied by the offside flag.
McGill went down in the box after beating his man in first-half injury time, but referee Graham Grainger was unimpressed by the striker’s penalty claims.
The first chance of the second half fell to Ruth, who raced in on goal after a mistake in the middle of the park, but Rae acted quickly to mop up the danger.
Charlie Telfer had a shot on the turn saved by Long just before the hour-mark, with David Wilson heading over two minutes later.
Sons’ sub Ryan Wallace sent a powerful effort over the bar shortly after coming on in the 65th minute, with Ryan Blair also firing over as both sides looked for a winner.
Wallace tested Rae with an 85th-minute header, but the keeper reacted well to hold the ball.
Airdrie’s breakthrough came with four minutes remaining as three substitutes combined, Murray Aiken picking out Justin Devenny in the middle. Long got the slightest touch on the midfielder’s strike to divert it onto the post, but Todorov followed up to slam home from a tight angle.
With what looked like a late winner secured, Airdrie added some gloss to the scoreline through McGregor, who got the goal his performance deserved after latching onto an inch-perfect through ball from Frizzell and spinning on the penalty spot to jab home.
A good result from a game that was scrappy at times, but the Diamonds will be happy with a clean sheet and a home win to begin their campaign.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.