October 20, 2023
Calum Gallagher 39
Jack Turner 46
Barry Hepburn 🟥
Airdrie moved up to fourth with a 1-1 draw against Queen’s Park at a wintery Excelsior, but both sides were left disappointed at the manner of the goals conceded.
The Diamonds had their first Friday night match of the season due to BBC Scotland’s live coverage, and despite Storm Babet’s best efforts an entertaining encounter was played out.
Manager Rhys McCabe made two changes to the side which lost to Ayr United a fortnight ago, Kanayo Megwa and Liam McStravick replacing Cammy Ballantyne and Gabby McGill in the starting line-up.
Airdrie starting brightly despite the swirling wind and rain, although Lewis McGregor felt hard done by in the early stages, being penalised for a contentious handball as he broke through on the fourth minute before taking a couple of heavy challenges which went unpunished.
Murray Aiken was joining the attack effectively in Airdrie’s dominant opening spell, and was inches away from getting the connection on McStravick’s low cross before Louis Longridge almost took advantage at the other end, forcing a good reaction save from Josh Rae after the ball had skidded through on the wet surface.
Dom Thomas cut in from the left on nine minutes, but his shot across goal went beyond the far post.
Aiken was the furthest man forward again four minutes later when Callum Fordyce’s dink over the top found the Hibernian loanee, but the visiting defence recovered to cut out his attempted cutback.
Queen’s Park’s first half threat was mostly coming down the wings, but Thomas’s 25th-minute cross was an easy catch for Rae, who had to backpedal to keep out a wind-assisted effort five minutes later.
Calum Gallagher had his first clear sight of goal on 37 minutes, getting on the end of a counter-attack move after Megwa had cleared well at the back post, but the striker fired over from outside the box.
The Diamonds top scorer made sure he hit the target two minutes later, McStravick sending him clear after Will Tizzard had been dispossessed. Advancing from halfway, Gallagher had time to measure his strike and lash the ball past Calum Ferrie in the Spiders’ goal.
Airdrie could have had an immediate second, Ferrie performing heroics with a fine double save as white shirts streamed forward, and the Diamonds had to settle for a one-goal advantage at the break.
Within a minute of the restart, Queens were level, an aggressive press forcing an error at the back and allowing Jack Turner to power into the box before rifling in the equaliser.
The Diamonds regrouped quickly, and Adam Frizzell was unlucky with a heavy touch after playing a superb pass into McGregor and finding space for the return ball.
As play raged from end to end, Rae made a top save to prevent Ruari Paton giving his side a 52nd-minute lead before Jack Thomson sent a rushed effort well over the bar.
Airdrie made a double change with Nikolay Todorov and Charlie Telfer replacing Gallagher and Aiken, but it was a Queen’s Park defender who almost gave the Diamonds a 67th-minute lead, heading the ball back for the grateful Ferrie to catch.
The Spiders’ keeper did well to save a Frizzell effort with his legs seconds later, and McGregor saw his cross slip behind after some desperate defending from the visitors.
Frizzell sent a 79th-minute strike over the bar, but it was Ferrie who was the Queen’s Park hero with two tremendous late saves from McStravick and Todorov either side of a Thomson effort at the other end.
Queens substitute Barry Hepburn was on the park for little more than ten minutes before being shown a stoppage-time red card for a retaliatory kick at Mason Hancock, but referee Greg Aitken’s final whistle meant the points were shared.
A trip to Inverness is next up for Airdrie, with the draw lifting the Diamonds into the promotion play-off positions ahead of the final Saturday fixtures of the opening quarter.
Stuart Mathie at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.