September 16, 2023
Michael McKenna 27
Jermaine Hylton 35
Jay Bird 88
Leighton McIntosh 90+1
Ricky Little 🟥
Liam McStravick 🟥
Airdrie slumped to defeat at Gayfield as two late Arbroath goals doubled the misery on a blustery afternoon on which both sides finished with ten men.
Diamonds player-boss made seven changes to the side which defeated University of Stirling in last week’s SPFL Trust Trophy match, Ballantyne, Taylor-Sinclair, Fordyce, McGregor, Calum Gallagher, McMaster and Watson replacing Hancock, Todorov, McStravick, Aiken, McGill, Gavin Gallagher and Cassidy.
Former Airdrie man Scott Stewart started for the hosts, with Leighton McIntosh named among the substitutes.
It was Airdrie who started the match brighter, Cammy Ballantyne and Josh O’Connor linking well down the left on five minutes with a timely Arbroath interception preventing Dean McMaster getting a shot away from Adam Frizzell’s cutback.
A minute later Calum Gallagher had the ball in the net, controlling Frizzell’s pass and firing home from a tight angle, but the striker was denied by an even tighter offside decision.
A quick passing move led to another Gallagher chance on 13 minutes, but this time the effort was blocked and the danger cleared.
Arbroath’s first foray up the park came on 16 minutes, with Jermaine Hylton’s cross-shot easily fielded by Josh Rae.
Good defending by Ricky Little denied O’Connor a minute later as the Hibs loanee raced onto Callum Fordyce’s long ball, and Rae gathered another cross from Hylton midway through the half as the game began to open up.
Ryan Dow did enough to put O’Connor off as the striker tried to control McCabe’s 26th-minute free-kick, with referee Craig Napier awarding a free-kick as keeper Derek Gaston scooped up the loose ball.
A minute later the Red Lichties were in front, Hylton marauding down the left and digging out a cross for the unmarked Michael McKenna, who made no mistake with his close-range header.
It took two Arbroath players to stop Frizzell charging through the middle on 32 minutes, and while David Gold’s poor challenge went unpunished, Little was shown a yellow card for his cynical trip.
From the resultant free-kick, McCabe sent a curling strike just wide of Gaston’s left-hand post.
The sucker-punch came two minutes later as Dick Campbell’s side added a second, the impressive Hylton with a nice touch to take a long ball away from Craig Watson before side-stepping Rae and passing home from the edge of the box.
Airdrie, who had struggled to get back into the match since the opener, were handed a lifeline on 38 minutes as Little was shown a second yellow card for a thigh-high challenge on O’Connor, but the Diamonds’ only chance before the break came from a 45th-minute McCabe cross with Gaston gathered with ease.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, it was Arbroath who took control early in the second half, Craig Slater firing past the top corner on 48 minutes.
Half-time substitute Liam McStravick was bundled over on 51 minutes, and the referee was quick to flash a yellow card at the Northern Irishman as he took Slater down with him.
Just four minutes later the recent signing was shown a second yellow as he challenged Hylton on the break. After two questionable fouls and two incredibly harsh bookings, McStravick headed for an early bath and Airdrie’s advantage was removed.
Lewis McGregor was denied by Thomas O’Brien’s well-timed challenge just before the hour mark, and nine minutes later the home defence stood firm as Watson launched another attack in Airdrie’s best spell of the match.
Substitute Gabby McGill almost got one back for the Diamonds, peeling on to Watson’s pass and lifting the ball over Gaston, but Airdrie’s luck was out as the ball bounced back off the upright into the keeper’s arms.
Ex-Diamond Leighton McIntosh entered the fray on 64 minutes, but was denied by a brave Rae save six minutes later as the home side sought to increase their lead.
The home side didn’t have to wait much longer for their third, Airdrie sub Nikolay Todorov seeing a volley blocked into the path of Jay Bird. Perhaps aware of an earlier booking, McCabe had to pull his challenge on the halfway line and the English striker was left with a clear run on goal, where he calmly rounded Rae and rolled the ball home.
Airdrie’s misery was compounded with the last kick of the ball, McIntosh taking Bird’s through ball and cutting across goal to tap in.
A disappointing day in Angus for the Diamonds, who look to pick themselves up with next week’s home tie against new league leaders Raith Rovers.
Stuart Mathie at Gayfield Park.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.