July 22, 2023
Viaplay Cup Group E
Rhys McCabe 89 pen
An 89th-minute penalty from player-manager Rhys McCabe gave Airdrie the points against Premiership side Dundee and maintained the Diamonds 100% record and place at the top of Viaplay Cup Group E.
Having beaten top-flight teams in the shape of Motherwell and St Mirren over the last two league cup campaigns, Airdrie had every right to be confident going into a home match against the Premiership new boys.
McCabe made two changes to the side which beat Dumbarton last weekend, naming himself and Murray Aiken in the starting line-up in place of Dean McMaster and Charlie Telfer.
Dundee were without injured former Airdrie loanee Charlie Reilly, but had plenty of talent in their ranks as new manager Tony Docherty shapes his team for the Premiership campaign.
The Dark Blues made the early running, Callum Fordyce blocking an on-target Zak Rudden header in the fifth minute.
Airdrie’s first sight of goal came two minutes later, Gabby McGill and Craig Watson combining well on the right before the latter swung in a cross which Calum Gallagher could only head over.
Josh Mulligan sent a ninth-minute effort well over and Joe Shaughnessy had a curling cross well taken by Josh Rae as Dundee enjoyed a spell of possession in the Airdrie half.
Rae had to look lively to touch a 16th-minute cross away as it looked set to creep under the bar, but McGill retaliated with a good touch and shot six minutes later, Lee Ashcroft doing well to block the effort.
Airdrie’s best spell so far came midway through the first-half, and it took a brave close-range save by Jon McCracken to deny Adam Frizzell, who got on the end of McGill’s flicked header and smashed goalward.
McGill got a strong head on the resultant corner, but his effort flew past the top corner.
Shaughnessy joined the attack again just before the half-hour, heading wide from a contentious free-kick on the left flank.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, Dundee almost took advantage as a superb Cammy Ballantyne block broke to Rudden, but the Diamonds defended resolutely to clear the danger.
The Dee should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time, a deflected pass sending Rudden racing through on goal, but the ball flicked off his heel and away just as he looked to be one on one with Rae.
Airdrie started the second half well, and only an unfortunate slip by Lewis McGregor prevented the winger turning on to the loose ball after McGill’s cross had been half-cleared two minutes after the restart.
Luke McCowan was seeing a lot of the ball in the wide areas, and should have done better with a 55th-minute cross which Rae gathered at his near post, before seeing another strike deflected wide six minutes later.
On 62 minutes Dundee were awarded a penalty as a long ball caught the home defence out and Scott Tiffoney beat Rae to the ball. There was a coming together between the striker and the Airdrie keeper, and referee Colin Steven pointed to the spot.
Lyall Cameron stepped up to slam the spot-kick to Rae’s left, but the Diamonds number one produced penalty heroics once again, diving low to tip the ball round the post.
Mulligan sent a powerful effort over the bar three minutes later as the pace of the game stepped up, and Rae saved from substitute Diego Pineda on 66 minutes.
Play raged from end to end without any clear-cut chances for either side, and the frenetic pace was slowed by substitutions from both sides.
With 88 minutes on the clock, Airdrie sub Josh O’Connor was felled by a two-handed shove as McCabe hooked a ball into the box, and this time the referee awarded Airdrie a penalty.
McCabe, the scorer of so many vital spot-kicks since joining Airdrie, stepped up right-footed and calmly send McCracken the wrong way to put the Diamonds in front with a minute remaining.
Six minutes of stoppage time saw bookings for both sides as Dundee chased the game and Airdrie defended their lead, but one goal was enough to win it for McCabe and his side.
A trip to Inverness on Tuesday follows for the unbeaten Diamonds, who round off the group with an away match at Bonnyrigg Rose next Saturday.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.