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January 27, 2024

cinch Championship





Craig Watson 37

Partick Thistle

Tomi Adeloye 41


Airdrie continued their unbeaten start to 2024 as the Excelsior Stadium hosted a 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle, courtesy of a first half goal from Craig Watson.

Coming into the third meeting of the sides in this league season, both had recorded 2-1 victories at their respective home grounds as they continued to battle for the play-off positions.

A Diamonds win would have solidified Rhys McCabe’s team in the top four of the league, and closed the gap on the day’s opponents to five points.

The player-manager sought to achieve this by making only one change from the previous weekend’s heroic Scottish Gas Scottish Cup victory against St Johnstone, as Lewis McGregor came in for the injured Gabby McGill.

Kris Doolan also only made a singular change to his Thistle side following their 3-0 dispatching of Ross County, as Tomi Adeloye was preferred to lead the line ahead of Brian Graham.

Referee Lloyd Wilson signalled the start of a match which began in rather uneventful circumstances. The first 25 minutes were ones in which possession mostly belonged to the visitors, but chances were few and far between.

The only real early opportunity for either side was thwarted by Josh Rae in the 14th minute as he rushed out of his goal to smother a quick Thistle break.

As the match began to open up, the Airdrie goalkeeper was met with a poor Robinson challenge from behind as he found himself on the left touchline snuffing out yet another opportunity for the visitors to run at his goal. However, the referee deemed this only worthy of a caution for the Thistle attacker and Rae continued after treatment.

The Diamonds began to gain a foothold following this, as an excellent Mason Hancock cross was played back into the box in the 30th minute, and the resulting Nikolay Todorov header flew narrowly over the top right corner.

The chances then came thick and fast, as a stramash in the Thistle box was somehow cleared away after a low Adam Frizzell cross was narrowly missed by a sliding Todorov.

Airdrie’s dominance was capitalised on in the 37th minute, when a Callum Fordyce header was knocked back by McCabe, positioned on the goalline, for Watson to simply stroke home in a packed penalty area, sending the home faithful into raptures.

The visitors looked for a quick response through Steven Lawless, whose mazy dribble saw him cut onto his favoured left foot and unleash a powerful strike which was well held by Rae.

This mattered not however, as only a minute later, Partick Thistle drew level through marksman Adeloye.

He controlled a high, hopeful ball well within the penalty area before striking a good, low shot which was blocked by Watson, only for the Thistle forward to bury the rebound into the bottom left corner at the second time of asking.

The half time whistle was sounded with the scoreline tied, which was a fair reflection of an even half of football.

Despite the action-packed nature of the tail-end of the first half, the match wasn’t restarted in the same fashion, as two top quality defences cancelled out the attacks facing them.

The two managers looked to their respective benches to give their sides a boost. One former Diamond in Kerr McInroy was replaced by another in Ben Stanway for Thistle, whilst Rhys McCabe swapped Lewis McGregor and Liam McStravick for Josh O’Connor and Arron Lyall.

Apart from a couple of crosses which Todorov just failed to get on the end of, no real goal scoring opportunities presented themselves to either side before the 77th minute, when substitute O’Connor had a close-range volley deflected narrowly wide following a pinpoint Frizzell cross.

This kickstarted a period of sustained Airdrie pressure, as the ball was hooked off the Thistle goalline following a corner before a looping Charlie Telfer effort looked to be heading into the top corner before being saved by the fingertips of Jamie Sneddon.

A triple substitution by Kris Doolan sought to change the trajectory of the game and inspire a final Thistle push, as

Zander MacKenzie, Ricco Diack and Blair Alston replaced Lawless, Aidan Fitzpatrick and Stuart Bannigan.

This very nearly paid off, as in the 87th minute, Alston appeared to be through on goal, but was thwarted by a remarkable Fordyce sliding challenge which was celebrated like a goal by the home crowd.

Following this, no further chances were created, and a hard-fought, combative encounter was brought to an end with each side earning a well-deserved point.

Airdrie will look to carry their momentum forward to Kirkcaldy as an SPFL Trust Trophy semi-final against Raith Rovers beckons on Friday night, before a massive Scottish Gas Scottish Cup 5th Round tie against Heart of Midlothian.

Daniel Sutherland at Excelsior Stadium.

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

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