August 5, 2023
Ewan Otoo 30
Paul Allan 65
Rhys Breen 🟥 77
Craig Watson 22
Dunfermline Athletic inflicted opening day defeat on the Diamonds, with substitute Paul Allan’s wonderstrike the difference in a tight match.
Manager midfielders Adam Frizzell and Lewis McGregor returned to the Airdrie starting line-up, with Murray Aiken dropping to the bench and former Pars man Nikolay Todorov injured. Suspended goalkeeper Josh Rae was replaced by emergency loan signing Josh Clarke, who joined from Celtic late on Friday night.
The home side had the first chance of the match after unfurling the League 1 championship flag prior to kick-off, but Clarke was alert to block Ewan Otoo’s shot with his legs.
Diamonds skipper Frizzell was the width of a post away from opening the scoring on six minutes, sending a rasping shot off the upright after good play by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.
Dunfermline continued to threaten, with Cammy Ballantyne defending well to keep early attacks down the right at bay, with Clarke reacting well to push out a 10th-minute deflected effort.
New Pars keeper Harry Sharp produced an excellent save from Charlie Telfer’s 15th-minute effort, with Josh O’Connor firing the loose ball over the bar.
Home captain Kyle Benedictus blocked well from Calum Gallagher four minutes later, but the Diamonds made the breakthrough on 22 minutes.
A fizzing effort from Telfer thundered off the underside of the bar, and Watson was well placed to steer home his header as the ball bounced back out.
Just eight minutes later the score was level again, ex-Diamond Josh Edwards floating in a cross from the left, with Otoo jumping to place a header into the top corner.
Edwards had a go himself ten minutes before the break, but his strike was always curling away from the target.
Sharp gathered Gallagher’s 25-yarder four minutes after the restart, with Andrew Tod firing over at the other end two minutes later.
The Dunfermline striker drew a brave save from Clarke on 52 minutes, and was perhaps lucky to avoid a second yellow for a reckless challenge after being booked in first-half stoppage time.
Ballantyne produced more top defending just before the hour mark, sprinting across to execute a perfectly-timed sliding challenge on Wighton as the striker shaped to shoot.
Telfer’s quick feet got him into a shooting position a minute later, but referee Grant Irvine blew for a handball by the Diamonds midfielder.
Pars substitute Paul Allan put his side in front on 65 minutes, running on to Watson’s clearance and curling home a fine finish from the corner of the box.
Airdrie should have had a spot-kick eight minutes later, a stramash in the penalty box leading to shot which was kept out by the hand of a home defender. With nothing awarded, the ball broke to Gallagher who fired wide.
The home side went down to ten men with 13 minutes remaining when Rhys Breen was shown a second yellow card, but as in the final meeting last season, Dunfermline set up camp in their own half and made it difficult for the Diamonds to find a way through.
McGregor’s goalbound volley was headed over on 78 minutes before Frizzell was taken out on the edge of the box a minute later, but again play was waved on.
Airdrie sub Dean McMaster went close with an 85th-minute effort, with O’Connor curling a cross just wide of the top corner with a minute to play.
Deep into stoppage time another Airdrie penalty claim was denied as Frizzell went over again, but the home side survived the late rally to take the points.
A home match against Partick Thistle is next up for the Diamonds, who will be hoping to be clear of injury and suspensions.
Stuart Mathie at East End Park.
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