August 26, 2023
Cameron Harper 1 OG
Calum Gallagher 32
Adam Frizzell 🟥 50
Nathan Shaw 70
The Diamonds dug deep to record their second successive cinch Championship victory in a closely fought encounter with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Rhys McCabe named the same side which had been narrowly beaten by Ross County in the Viaplay Cup the previous weekend, with the aim of replicating that high level of performance.
His opposite number Billy Dodds had made two changes to the side beaten by Ayr United, with Wallace Duffy replacing Zak Delaney and Austin Samuels taking the place of Luis Longstaff, hoping to put together the first points of the Jags’ 23/24 campaign.
Referee Dan McFarlane’s whistle sounded and almost immediately, following a breakdown in play, a sumptuous Calum Gallagher overhead through ball was retrieved by the lightning-fast Lewis McGregor, who was able to cross along the ground and allow Gabby McGill to cause huge confusion in the penalty area - resulting in Cameron Harper poking the ball beyond his own goalkeeper and an Airdrie lead within 36 seconds.
Inverness set out to make amends for their early setback, however, as a mere two minutes later, Duffy fashioned a decent chance for himself by cutting in on his right foot, only for him to fire high and wide.
Airdrie’s next chance to double their lead came in the 12th minute, when Murray Aiken did fantastically well to wriggle his way through two visiting defenders before seemingly being tripped in the box, however both players’ and fans’ appeals alike were waved away by the referee.
Inverness controlled most of the ball for the majority of the first half without doing much to trouble Josh Rae or the Airdrie backline, whilst being able to withstand any home pressure which came their way until the 33rd minute.
As McGregor hounded the Inverness defence, a slack backpass was pounced upon by Gallagher, who made no mistake as he dinked beyond Mark Ridgers to notch his fourth goal in his last three games, and to double the Diamonds’ lead.
Rae was given his first real scare five minutes later, however, when Aaron Taylor-Sinclair stretched himself superbly to block a Samuels strike onto the post from point blank range.
Despite this, the Airdrie team made their way to the changing room in a significantly better position than their Highland counterparts.
Inverness began the second half on the front foot, as only five minutes after the start of the half, they had a big shout for a goal and saw the Diamonds go down to ten men.
Only seconds after the ball was squeezed across goal and Rae gathered at his post - despite loud Inverness claims that the ball had gone over the line - Airdrie captain Adam Frizzell had been shown his second yellow card of the match for a late challenge, prompting nerves to gather amongst the home faithful.
Airdrie attempted to combat this by making two attack-minded substitutions, with Josh O’Connor and Nikolay Todorov replacing Gabby McGill and Calum Gallagher respectively.
Inverness cranked up the pressure, but the depleted Diamonds team did well to soak it up, and very nearly grabbed a goal for themselves in the 69th minute when a dazzling McGregor solo run was thwarted at the very end as he dragged his shot just wide.
It was only a minute later that the visitors pulled a goal back, as Nathan Shaw tapped home after a Longstaff shot rebounded off the post straight into his path.
More pressure was soaked up and Airdrie continued playing the quick passing football that they have become known for, even in such a tense situation.
The match was seen out expertly by the home side, who were forced to dig deep in order to see out the victory. The players enjoyed full-time celebrations with the crowd, showcasing the tight-knit spirit of the club.
The Diamonds will be hoping to replicate their recent results and performances in perhaps their toughest test yet next weekend, when they face league favourites Dundee United at Tannadice, whilst Billy Dodds’ side will host last season’s cinch League One winners Dunfermline at Caledonian Stadium.
Daniel Sutherland at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.