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September 2, 2023

cinch Championship

Dundee United




Mathew Anim Cudjoe 4
Kai Fotheringham 90+4



The Diamonds fell to an unlucky 2-0 defeat as they made the trip north-east for a bumper early season clash with cinch Championship favourites Dundee United at Tannadice.

Rhys McCabe set out to prove his newly-promoted side could compete with cinch Premiership regulars by naming two changes to the XI which battled to dispatch Inverness Caledonian Thistle at the Excelsior Stadium the previous weekend.

Mason Hancock made his first Airdrie start as he replaced Craig Watson in defence and new signing Liam McStravick slotted into Adam Frizzell’s midfield spot following the captain’s sending off against Inverness, and the approval of his own international clearance.

Jim Goodwin sought to continue his team’s unbeaten start to the new cinch Championship campaign by naming only one change to the team that had breezed past Ayr United to reach second in the table, as Liam Grimshaw was drafted into the midfield.

Referee Chris Graham’s whistle was followed immediately by a period of early home pressure, which paid off with a goal after a mere four minutes of play, exactly the start Airdrie hoped not to make.

Some clever attacking play found the ball laid off to Mathew Anim Cudjoe just inside the penalty area, who bent a thunderous shot into the back of the net, curling beyond the diving Josh Rae.

Things went from bad to worse for the away side as a collision with the advertising boards in the build-up to the goal found August Player of the Month Dean McMaster unable to continue, being replaced by young debutant Gavin Gallagher.

The goal did not mellow United even slightly, and the early onslaught continued as Lewis Moult fired a header off the post from a tight angle, and a Glenn Middleton cross was screwed narrowly wide.

Airdrie then began to grow into the game, finding themselves with considerably more possession than they had had in the first ten minutes, and this was realised as the in-form Calum Gallagher narrowly missed an audacious lob following an inch-perfect lofted through-ball from McStravick.

Shortly after, however, the match was paused by the referee in the 15th minute for a considerable period of time, due to a medical emergency amongst the home supporters.

Play got back underway in the 26th minute, and almost immediately the home side were inches away from doubling their lead as Moult cushioned a header off the upright, and Cudjoe missed the ball on the rebound.

Despite a close-range Cammy Ballantyne block on a Declan Glass shot, no true clear-cut chances were created for either side until inside the 13 minutes of additional play at the end of the first half.

A curling Lewis McGregor effort from outside the box was caught and held by Walton in the top right corner of his goal at the beginning of stoppage time as Airdrie pressed for an equaliser.

The half drew to a close as Gabby McGill was scythed down on the edge of the box during a quick Airdrie break, with the
resulting free kick being bent narrowly wide by Hancock.

Rhys McCabe made his way down the Tannadice tunnel with his side down but certainly not out, a goal down and continuing to play well, while Jim Goodwin would hope to capitalise on the numerous chances his United team had created.

The second half was a considerably quieter affair than the first, despite the fact that it began with a third Dundee United shot missing the net by inches, as Kevin Holt smashed a header off the post following a corner.

Play continued without major incident until the 68th minute, when Airdrie had their best chance to equalise. The ball had rolled to Callum Fordyce just outside the six-yard box after a goalmouth scramble, and his low shot was destined for the net were it not for the sliding Declan Gallagher who hooked it off the line.

Both sides had long phases of play spent in the opposition half, without creating any true chances. A last throw of the dice was made by McCabe in the 85th minute as Nikolay Todorov replaced the impressive McStravick.

Stoppage time ticked way, and with the majority of the team in the United penalty area attempting to find the equaliser, the ball found its way back to Josh Rae, whose slack pass to Hancock allowed substitute Kai Fotheringham to roll home into an empty net, doubling his side’s lead with the last kick of the match.

Despite defeat, Airdrie can take pride in their display looking forward to next week’s SPFL Trust Trophy clash with University of Stirling, and fans will be encouraged by the performance of some new Diamonds debutants.

Daniel Sutherland at Tannadice Park.

Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.

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