December 9, 2023
Calum Gallagher 90+2 pen
Josh Edwards 37
Matty Todd 69
Despite Airdrie having plenty of possession and a number of decent chances, Dunfermline Athletic took all three points back to East End Park with a 2-1 victory at the Excelsior.
Diamonds boss Rhys McCabe made three changes to the side narrowly beaten by Partick Thistle at the Wyre Stadium last weekend - Gavin Gallagher replacing Charlie Telfer in the midfield whilst Mason Hancock’s return bolstered the defence in place of Gabby McGill, and Calum Gallagher made way for former Dunfermline man Nikolay Todorov at the top of the pitch.
James McPake’s Pars side had undergone wholesale changes since their last match against Arbroath as Aaron Comrie, Ben Summers, Michael O’Halloran and Craig Wighton replaced Sam Fisher, Matty Todd, Kane Ritchie-Hosler and Owen Moffat.
The first good chance came the way of the home side in the 19th minute, when Todorov leapt highest to thrash a header off the underside of his former teammate Deniz Mehmet’s crossbar following a corner.
Ten minutes later it was Dunfermline who nearly opened the scoring as a ball played down the left wing was contested by Josh Rae as he came flying out of his box, before he was bypassed. Luckily for the Airdrie goalkeeper, the header from the resulting cross was skewed wide before Kanayo Megwa cleared.
Airdrie failed to return the pressure to the visitors after this, and as a result the first goal went the way of the East End Park side in the 37th minute.
The ball was played to Lewis McCann on the edge of Rae’s box before he pulled back expertly for ex-Diamonds Josh Edwards to sweep home his second goal in as many matches.
This appeared to have a revitalising effect on the home side for the remainder of the first half as they searched for an immediate response, which very nearly came just before the half time whistle as Todorov headed just over after an aerial challenge with Mehmet inside his penalty area.
Don Robertson’s signal drew the first half to a close as the Diamonds headed down the tunnel down but very much still not out.
The second half began in a slightly subdued fashion, however the away side retained possession well.
McCabe introduced Josh O’Connor and Calum Gallagher in the 59th minute in place of Adam Frizzell and Todorov -
whose afternoon ended without a goal against his former side.
Dunfermline also made a double substitution which almost had an immediate impact – Alex Jakubiak forcing Rae into a close-range save, with the rebound skewed well wide by Edwards in a search for his second goal of the afternoon.
His side’s second goal however, did come soon after, as another pull back from Jakubiak on the left of the Diamonds’ box found its way to fellow substitute Todd, who swept home neatly into the bottom corner, sending the travelling supporters into raptures.
Airdrie searched for a quick response, as a superb Calum Gallagher header was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Mehmet only a minute before he produced another incredible stop, this time from a Callum Fordyce volley at point-blank range.
The Pars very nearly caught Airdrie napping after this chance too, as a quick counter-attack forced Rae in the opposite goal into yet another smart save from Jakubiak.
Airdrie efforts went unrewarded until the 92nd minute, when Calum Gallagher was fouled in the box. The striker dispatched the resulting penalty perfectly into the bottom right corner of the Dunfermline goal to restore slight hope of a late turnaround amongst the Diamonds faithful.
This was however to no avail, as Don Robertson’s whistle marked the end of a closely fought match which saw Airdrie
stay in fifth place of the cinch Championship, still only one position behind their opponents on the day.
A four-point gap separates the two sides - a gap which the Diamonds will hope to tighten as they travel to Somerset Park to face Ayr United in a week’s time.
Daniel Sutherland at Excelsior Stadium.
Photos © Redacted Media. Click to view full-size.